UPS and LPS Trails
The main reason I went to Moab this time was to ride the Whole Enchilada, a 30+ mile path on the edge of the Porcupine Rim comprised of 6 different trails.
I had been to Moab before, but that was with the entire family. I had only been able to do 2 rides that trip… Klondike Bluffs (it was right next to our campground) and the Slickrock Trail (supposedly the best ride in the area).
Family vacations require family activities… and since no one in my family was into mountain biking… that meant group hikes, visitor centers, national parks (which allow no mountain biking), and shopping.
Length: 23.7 miles
Since that trip I had read several publications rating the Whole Enchilada as one of the top ten rides in the nation … so I knew I must return. I planned the trip for spring break, since we had the week off from teaching school, and the temperatures would be moderate in southeastern Utah.
We (Cindy, Kayley, and I) drove all day Saturday and rolled into Moab at around midnight, with the wind whipping and heavy rain coming in bunches. We had not planned on arriving so late but we were delayed a few hours, as the I-15 freeway was shut down due to a protest staged against the BLM regarding cattle grazing rights.
We ate dinner at the only place open at the witching hour (the Denny’s on the east side of town), drove straight to our KOA “Kamper Kabin” (on the extreme west side of town), and hit the sack.
After eating brunch the next morning, the first thing we did was go to the Chile Pepper Bike Shop and ask about the Whole Enchilada.
The young woman at the sales counter said some of the shuttles would be running up the Porcupine Rim, but due to the new snow in the LaSals (the mountains which lay just to the east of Moab) they would not be able to drop riders off for the Whole Enchilada. To ride the Whole Enchilada one starts in the LaSals (Geyser Pass), and rides 5 other trails before picking up the Porcupine Rim Trail. The trails in order (from top to bottom) are:
- Burro Pass Trail*
- Hazzard County Trail*
- Kokopelli Trail*
- UPS Trail
- LPS Trail
- And Porcupine Trail
*Trails Not Open
So, since we had to start at the UPS Trail due to the snow on Sand Flats Road… I am calling the rest of this entry the “Part” Enchilada Ride.
- Click the Rectangular Box for Map Information.
- Click on the blue “P” for Driving Directions to the Trailhead.
Have you done the Whole Enchilada? Part Enchilada? What did you think of them? How about sharing your thoughts on our Visitor Stories page?
Since we were going to be in Moab for the week I decided I would wait until my last day of riding (Thursday) and hope the snow had melted down so I could start further up into the mountains.
I called Coyote Shuttle (recommended by Chile Pepper) Wednesday and chose the 10:30 shuttle for Thursday morning, knowing there was no way I could get two women up and out the door for the 8:30 trip.
The shuttle cost me $25 and was well worth it. Cindy and Kayley could have driven me up to the drop but the road was quite rough and the trip took close to an hour. Shuttling me would have cost them 2 hours of hiking in Arches National Park… just not worth it.
The old Volkswagen bus sounded like it was going to come apart as it strained to get 12 riders and 13 bikes up the hills on the Sand Flats Road (why there were 13 bikes and 12 riders I still don’t know, maybe someone was going to ride 2 bikes). I had sat next to a middle-aged guy named Ron, who sat near the door immediately after they got his fat-bike loaded onto the roof. His button-up paisley dress shirt with plaid shorts, and the way he spoke to the shuttle driver gave me the impression he was a local… or maybe he just came with the bus.
On the way up Ron told me about the Whole Enchilada so much that I finally had to ask him if he lived in Moab. He said he lived in Tahoe but tried to spend 30 days in Moab each Fall and Spring. We also discussed some of the Tahoe rides we had each done and some other possible rides in Moab.
The old bus stopped at a widening of the Sand Flats Road and the driver yelled out, “This is high as we can go!” I was the first one out of the bus and immediately saw why we went no higher… for 100 feet above me the road was covered with snow. As I was looking at the road I was almost run over by another shuttle van with at least 15 bikes attached to the roof.
After our bikes were unloaded we each paid the driver $25 cash… except I am not sure if Ron did. As I was getting on my bike Ron was hassling the driver… wanting to know why the shuttle was $25 when we only made it partially to the top. Not wanting to hear any more arguing (and not wanting to get stuck behind a whole bunch of slow riders) I left, not knowing whether Ron had had to pay full price. I didn’t know it at the time, but that would be the last time I would see Ron again. Later I figured maybe he rode farther up the road to do the “Whole” Enchilada (since fat-bikes are supposed to perform well in the snow) or he just didn’t ride at the pace I had.
The fire road from Sand Flats Road to the trail was extremely steep, chewed-up, and muddy. I managed to ride the whole thing but thought about walking a couple of times.
At about the one-mile point I came upon a sign and found out where I was… at the top of the UPS Trail.
It took me about one minute and around 100 yards to come up behind the foreigners.
The woman didn’t realize I was behind her and kept riding. I was astounded to see her get off her bike and walk over a rock about the size of a standard speed bump. She then spotted me and stood off to the side of the trail. Was she planning on doing the entire trail?
This little instance made me glad I had left the shuttle bus right away, but I kind of wished I had stayed to see who was going to ride two bikes at the same time (there were 13 bikes and only 12 riders!)
The UPS and LPS were both singletrack trails that traveled along the cliffs… sometimes weaving through trees and over boulders… then emerging onto sheets of cap rock. Many times the trails ran parallel to the edge of the cap rock, sure death just a few feet away. I occasionally stopped to take photos of fellow riders out on a precipice, with miles of empty space as the backdrop.
A little later a guy wanted to take my photo. I gave him my standard line, “My website is intended to highlight the people and places I encounter,” but he insisted… so I finally obliged.
I took the right turn that led to the Castle Valley Overlook and met two guys that were staying at the campground. They were in an awesome campsite, able to see a thousand feet down and 20 miles to the north, right from their picnic table. One of the guys had a cast on his arm so I asked him if he got it mountain biking. He said, “No, I broke it when I punched this guy (pointing to the other man) in the face a couple of weeks ago.” I said, “What … you punched your buddy, and now you are out here camping with him?”
The other guy said, “Oh, we just had a disagreement … we got it settled.” As he spoke I looked closely at his face, then commented, “I don’t see any black eye or swollen jaw!” He responded with, “Nope, that’s gone away.” Then the guy with the cast chimed in, “I am shuttling him to his rides now that I can’t bike!” We all had a good laugh, and then I told them goodbye and headed down the road.
At one point I had stopped to take a photo when a man and his young son rode past me. I watched as they passed… impressed with the skills of the young rider. I turned on my Contour (video camera), hopped on my bike, and got behind him.
Below you will find the video of Sager (7 years old) riding on the mighty Porcupine Rim in Moab, Utah. To watch the video on a full screen click the icon in the lower right corner just to the right of the YouTube emblem.
To view all videos on Mountain Bike Diaries go to our YouTube channel at MountainBikeDiaries.
After a short time the kid realized I was behind him and pulled over to let me pass. I told him I was filming him and asked if he would continue. He nodded his head and started pedaling… so I got some good footage of (Sager) in action.
Riding over rocks and through thick trees I suddenly came upon 3 guys huddled around a sign for “The Notch.” Earlier I had seen the Notch listed on a map and figured I would avoid it by staying on the LPS trail. But somehow I must have missed the sign. Imagine that… me missing a sign!
The Notch was the perfect description. The “trail” dropped drastically between some huge boulders for about 20 feet, then made an abrupt right turn and at the same time plunged a good 3 feet more onto another rock below. I reached down to grab my phone for a photo and found my brand new Samsung Galaxy S5 that had been mounted on my belt was gone!
After the panic subsided a little I turned and started walking back up the trail… looking right and left as well as in the center of the trail.
I had walked only about 100 yards when I met a very attractive young woman bombing down the trail. I stopped her and asked if she had seen my phone. I was kind of shocked when she immediately said, “Yes. My friend Nicole has it, and she should be right behind me!” Just then, another striking young lady arrived and handed me my phone. I hit a button and the screen lit up, causing me to gush, “Thank you so much … you are my hero! Can I take a picture of you?” She said yes, and gave me a great pose. Then all three of us turned and rode down to the Notch.
When we arrived at the Notch I noticed the three guys who had been sitting by the sign were now down studying the Notch, trying to find a riding line. I turned to Nicole and said, “Those guys are not planning on riding down there are they?” She responded with, “Oh ya, they will do it. You should have seen what we were riding yesterday,” at which time I realized the guys were her riding partners. I told her I wanted to get some footage of this and promptly parked my bike.
Below you will find the video taken of someone trying to ride “The Notch.”. To watch the video on a full screen click the icon in the lower right corner just to the right of the YouTube emblem.
To view all videos on Mountain Bike Diaries go to our YouTube channel at MountainBikeDiaries.
The guys discussed how to best do the drop, each one trying it twice, but finally gave up. The first guy made it to the bottom but just couldn’t figure out how to do that right turn/3-foot drop.
The second guy stopped before that point. I told both guys I admired their attempts as I would not even dream of attempting it myself. After we all hiked our bikes to the bottom we took a steep single track section that tied back into the LPS trail less than a mile later.
The LPS trail ends on a huge, flat rock on the edge of the cliff. I found this rock covered with people eating snacks and conversing.
I only recognized a few of the riders as being my shuttle-mates, so I figured many must have been the slower riders from the 8:30 shuttles or ones from a different shuttle.
I quickly ate my protein bar, looked to see if anyone seemed to be eating an enchilada (I noticed none), and hurried down the trail… not wanting to get stuck behind a bunch of slow riders.
Coasting down 50 feet from the lunch slab I saw the sign showing the Porcupine Rim “Trail” to the right. As soon as I looked to the right I realized the word “Trail” really meant Jeep Road.
I needn’t have worried about getting stuck behind anyone, as the road was plenty wide for easy passing.
*Note: Since doing this “Part” Enchilada I have met several riders who told me not to feel too bad about being denied the Whole Enchilada. They said the part of Enchilada I did do was definately the best portion of the entire ride.
To see the next leg of the “Part” Enchilada please click: Porcupine Rim Trail.