The Whole Enchilada, Moab, Utah
Distance: 32.6 miles
Technical Difficulty: Advanced
Endurance: 9 out of 10
This has to be the finest mountain bike ride anywhere, connecting four classic Moab trails—Burro Pass, Hazzard County, Kokopelli Trail, and Porcupine—in a journey from the high alpine of the La Sal Mountains down below the red rock cliffs on the Colorado River. Starting 11,150 feet, you drop over 8,000 feet, powering first through cool evergreen forests, past Warner Lake (a nice spot for nap) and onto rolling Gamble oak-covered slopes, down high-speed dirt roads built out with gaps and berms, and then onto two track over Moab’s world-famous slick rock. It’s almost all downhill, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, as stream crossings, slick roots, rock drops, and countless features demand focus all the way to the river.
Logistics: A few masochists choose to ride this as a loop, a 62-mile odyssey with as much climbing as descending, but most will opt for a shuttle service from Moab Cyclery, Poison Spider Bicycles, or a handful of other local providers.
The Hangover, Sedona, Arizona
Distance: 3.7 miles
Technical Difficulty: Skull and Crossbones
Endurance: 4 out of 10
What this trail lacks in length, it makes up for in character and commitment. On blocky, red, slick rock, the Hangover climbs up to a smooth saddle and then proceeds to loop the massive butte. If you’re anxious about the waterslide-like entry to the backside, it’s likely a good time to turn around, as the trail soon narrows and traverses a pathway etched into the cliff side that’s occasionally barely handlebar wide. The exit down the other side is the most trying section, with waist-high step-downs and roll-offs that feel as if a mistake could send you tumbling to eternity. It’s heady—and rewarding—stuff, but only for the skilled and confident.
Logistics: Most people ride up Schnebly Hill from town, which turns this into a 10-miles round trip. Grab a map and local advice at Over The Edge Sedona.