Moab Dirt Biking: Metal Masher and Fins & Things
For many years, we at Off-Road.com have attended the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. The old uranium mine trails that surround Moab are perfect for off-road exploration. There are a number of get-togethers at this scenic and beautiful destination in southeast Utah, and the Easter Jeep Safari has gathered off-roaders for decades and is one of the largest and most well-known off-road gatherings in the country.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Easter Jeep Safari is that itís just for Jeepers. While Jeepiní in actual Jeeps was the genesis of the event nearly 50 years ago, trucks, SUVs and rigs of all shapes and sizes now participate in the event every year. After attending a number of Easter Jeep Safari events over the years, we eventually started to consider exploring some of these trails on a totally different vehicle than we had in the past Ė a dirt bike. We dreamt of losing the larger organized groups and enjoying the freedom to explore the slickrock sections on two wheels instead of four, and a few years back, we finally did just that and brought out dirt bikes along with our Jeep. We took a few rides to explore the area on bikes with the aid of off-road guide Jim Ryan, who showed us a popular dirt bike trail that also draws mountain bikers as well called Sovereign Trail.
Our trip a few years back but great, but our curiosity wasnít fully satisfied. We returned the following year with no bikes, and we spent a few moments on that trip longing to hit the trails again on two wheels. This year, the bikes came with us again, and this time we decided to explore some well known four-wheel trails on bikes. And just like before, we had a blast.
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Jeep Trails on Bikes?
If youíve done any four wheeliní in Moab, you know what the area has to offer in terms of red rock beauty, slickrock trails and scenic vistas. There are a number of trails that are great to explore on dirt bikes, even if youíve never considered doing so. Last time when we rode the Sovereign Trail, we stayed to its tight, single-track trails where four-wheelers would never be; this time, we wanted to explore some of the trails we have seen from the driver or passenger seat of four-wheeler.
We headed just outside of town on the 191 and stopped at the Gemini Bridges Trailhead. This area provides access to a number of trails, as Gemini Bridges Road travels up along the side of the mountain overlooking 191 and then turns into away from the highway and meets up with trails such as Golden Spike, Metal Masher and more. For dirt bikers and ATV/UTV riders looking for a staging area to access trails, this is the perfect spot. The parking lot is on private land and parking fees are paid on the honor system, but it offers plenty of room for parking vehicles Ė even if youíre pulling a trailer.
Since we were heading out to explore trails and we werenít exactly sure how long it would take, we made sure to top off our fuel tanks, fill up our CamelPaks with water, and we packed a small took kit, snacks and a cell phone. Itís possible youíll see other travelers throughout the day, but itís also possible you donít run into anyone for hours. The arid climate makes water a necessity, so be sure to have plenty on hand.
Only a few miles into the ride, Gemini Bridges Road provides cool scenery as the road increases in elevation and overlooks the 191 highway hundreds of feet below. It then turns the corner and heads toward a number of trails. We followed the road over to the Gemini Bridge landmark, parked our bikes and walked the few hundred yards to the scenic spot. Gemini Bridge isnít accessible by vehicle, but itís worth the walk if youíre in the area.
We headed a little further down the trail and made our way to the back entrance for Metal Masher. We were fortunate that no guided groups were on our section of the trail and were able to explore at our leisure.
Metal Masher is a pretty cool trail overall, which offers smooth, sandy turn sections, rocky slopes and ledges, wide-open speed sections and more, but best of all, most of the obstacles have a bypass. While the trail wouldnít be ideal for beginners, intermediate riders would be just fine on it.
After a few hours of riding we did eventually catch up to a few organized Jeep groups tackling the trails. As is the case with any trail, courtesy is important when heading through tight sections or obstacles. We waited for the first group to pass before getting back on our way. Once we hit the slickrock sections, it was even easier to bypass the small groups of Jeepers on the trail, most of which gave is nods and waved hello as we traveled through Metal Masher.
There are a number of potential offshoots and connecting trails in the area. In one section of Metal Masher, thereís an optional trail to head over to Widow Maker, a gnarly obstacle that only the serious wheelers will try to tackle. Golden Spike and Poison Spider trail can be accessed from Gemini Road as well, and if youíre on a dual sport you ride on Gemini Road until it ends and then hop on the 313. Itís important to map out your route ahead of time by familiarizing trail names, buying or printing out a trail map, and of course, planning ahead with extra water and snacks. Although cell reception is limited in some remote areas of Moab, we did have service in some sections on the trail, so bringing a cell phone is a good idea.
Fins & Bikes?
After finishing our ride at Metal Masher, we rode back to the staging area and headed back into town for lunch. We spent most of the morning on the trail, though we could have stretched it into a full day of riding. We wanted to make sure we hit some other trails well, though, so we ventured over to the Grand County Sand Flats Recreation area, which provides access to notable trails such as Hellís Revenge, Fins & Things and access to the Kokopelli Trail. Overnight camping is available in the park, and both motorized recreation for four wheeling or powersports, mountain biking and hiking are all allowed in the park.
Once inside the park, we headed over near Fins & Things to unload. Weíve been on a number of trail rides on this famous and fun Moab trail, and we even took a short spin on it a few years back. The trail is such a blast on bikes we wanted to hit it again Ė in fact, we did a few laps around the trail, cutting out some of the slickrock sections just because a few large organized trail runs were taking place. Itís not a trail for beginners, as there steep downhill slopes to traverse and slickrock sections that feature drop offs on each side. Intermediate riders will be fine, however, as the trail can be explored at a slow pace if need be.
Moab is a playground for the adventurer, offering a massive variety of outdoor recreation thatís set in a beautiful and scenic landscape. While we only tackled a few trails during this past trip to Moab, it left us wishing we had more time to explore the area on bikes. Many would argue that a trip to Moab for Easter Jeep Safari, Cruise Moab or any of the other large four-wheel events should be on the off-roaderís bucket-list. We agree itís certainly near the top of the four-wheelers wish list, but weíd argue it also should be on the list of great dirt bike destinations as well. Then again, weíre happy not everyone knows how great Moab is as a dirt bike destination Ė leaves the trails a little less crowded the next time we hit the dirt on two wheels.