6 or 8 mile round trip of paved trail along the Colorado River paralleling River Road, route 128 designated the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway. Cycle through breath taking gorge formed by Sandstone walls.
Most of Moab’s activities have an off the chart gnarr factor. Paved trails, until recently were few and far between and cyclists on the roads, with other rubbernecking tourists can be dangerous. This trail is a gem of a run. Route 128, known as River Road follows the Colorado River as it weaves and winds through a gorge of Sandstone walls. The paved trail is between the road and the Colorado River. For most of it, it is separated from the road, except a short section towards the end that has room for cyclists on the shoulder.
What Makes It Great
This road, the 16 miles between Route 191 and the Richardson’s Amphitheatre (wide valley) where Castle Valley and Fisher Towers are was started in 1897 and finally completed in 1899 after much controversy. The pack trail that preceded “King’s Toll Road” was called the Heavenly Stairway for it’s dramatic 1000-foot descent. On the north side of the Colorado River is Arches National Park and on the south side is where the infamous Slickrock Mountain Biking trail is.
This trail is part of a designated “Watchable Wildlife Area", so be on the lookout for wildlife during your ride. Desert Bighorn Sheep have settled into this valley from their release into Arches National Park, they tend to be in the cliff bands above the river as are Peregrine Falcon. The thick vegetation along the river provides homes for otters and beavers, blue heron. Keep an eye out for Bald Eagles nesting in the Cottonwood trees in the winter.
If you want to expand your ride, you can start in town, keeping one more car off the road and add a mile each way, you will still be on a paved path away from cars. To add more mileage, cross the Colorado River from the Lion’s Park Trail Hub Parking lot at the junction of Routes 191 and 128 and continue north to route 313, the turn off for Canyonlands National Park, and DeadHorse Point State Park 8 miles north passing Arches National Park. For extra mileage, you can ride all the way to Dead Horse Point State Park 34 miles from parking lot (see Dead Horse Point State Park under Road Cycling.)
Who is Going to Love It
Road cyclist will love all these options outlined in the paragraph above. As all of these rides are out and back, you can chose to do a 6-mile ride from the Lions Park Trail Hub Parking lot at the junction of route 191 and River Road (route 128) a mile north of town. You can add 2 miles by riding the paved pathway from the edge of town or you can add up to 16 mile by riding north on the Moab Canyon Paved Path from the Lion’s Park Trail Hub Parking. (see Moab Canyon Paved Path article.) River Road is flat a flat ride, if you chose to run the 16 mile paralleling route 191, you will have 500+ vertical foot elevation gain. If you go all the way to Dead Horse Point State Park you will some good climbs.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The start described above is the Lion’s Park Trail Hub Parking Lot which is a mile north of town on Route 191 on the south side of the Colorado River at the junction of route 128.
There is also access to this trail starting your ride from town. There are bathrooms at the parking lot and parking and use are free.