Moab, UT is considered one of the world’s premier mountain biking destinations offering a variety of options set against an amazing backdrop. The Amasa Back area is home to six trails, and a total of 14 miles, all sure to test your fitness and bike skills while simultaneously offering out-of-this-world scenery—with views of Kane Creek, Canyonlands National Park, Colorado River, and Behind the Rocks Wilderness Area—and tremendous amounts of fun.
All the trails at Amasa are considered intermediate to extremely difficult, with routes that traverse challenging desert slickrock. They are ideal if you are in great shape and have excellent bike handling skills. Know your ability and walk the bike when necessary. Before you start your ride at Amasa, be sure you have a map. While all trails and junctions are marked with signs, the inherent nature of trails over hard rock can make route-finding a challenge. You can find detailed trail maps at any number of bike shops in Moab.
The area’s most popular and accessible classic ride is the 9.1-mile out-and-back route Amasa Back/Cliffhanger Trail. This ride has the optional 1.8-mile intermediate extension of the Pothole Arch Trail, and the expert 1.6 miles of the Rockstacker Trail for those wishing to add to the fun.
The Amasa Back/Cliffhanger Trail is a ledgy 4x4 trail that gradually climbs several hundred feet
over the course of its 4.8 miles to the top of the formation. The trail is characterized by lots of little steps and obstacles, with some bigger steps for advanced riders to tackle and less experienced riders to walk over. For this reason, it makes a good introduction to Moab’s more technical trails. From the four-mile mark the Pothole Arch Trail (closed to motor vehicles) branches off the Amasa Back 4x4 Trail. The Pothole Arch Trail is an intermediate, two-mile section of sandstone riding, that takes you to an arch set on top of a dirt mesa.
Reversing your path on Pothole, the preferred route is to return the way you climbed. Guaranteed you’ll get a fresh perspective on the landscape unfolding before you. You will encounter expert options in Rockstacker and Jackson’s Trail on your left (all junctions are marked). These return routes are a significant step up in difficulty from Amasa Back. Rockstacker is a 1.6-mile expert level trail that takes you over smooth and bumpy sandstone before reconnecting with Amasa Back/Cliffhanger, which you may follow back to the parking area. Because of extreme cliff exposure and technical and demanding riding, it is not recommended that you take the 2.4-mile double black diamond Jackson’s Trail.
More Amasa-Area Trails
The newer additions of the Hymasa and Captain Ahab trails are also worthy objectives. Hymasa is a technical singletrack trail that climbs 600 feet in 2.7 miles to the beginning of the one-way (down only) Captain Ahab, a fun technical trail that winds its way back to the parking area.
Begin just beyond the Amasa Back 4x4 trail. Follow the singletrack down to Kane Creek where you will join Amasa Back to cross Kane Creek. Look for the sign showing where Hymasa splits from Amasa. The trail climbs through several switchbacks on its way up to the junction with Captain Ahab.
Soon after joining the Captain Ahab Trail, you will be treated to a gorgeous vista over Canyonlands National Park. This place makes for an awesome spot to stop for a snack. Captain Ahab is another expert trail that will have you climbing 1,000 feet in order to descend 1,600 feet. It requires expert technical riding over and through rocky shelves and along wildly-exposed cliff edges, so be sure you are up for the challenge.
Spend a day or two exploring the trail networks of the Amasa Back area and be rewarded with the technical challenges known to desert riding as well as amazing panoramic views of the beautiful Utah landscape. If you have endurance along with expert bike handling skills, you will find this area very pleasing.
Trailhead parking for the Amasa Back is five miles west of Highway 191 on Kane Creek Road. Head west on Kane Creek off Main Street in Moab. A large dirt parking area will be on your right. From the parking area ride your bike for an additional half-mile down Kane Creek before arriving at the Amasa Back 4x4 Trail turn-off. Riding occurs year round, but spring and fall are the most popular. Summers can be hot, and during winter the trails maybe wet and/or snow and ice covered.
GPS Coordinates: 38.529722, -109.637778