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. Road running 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 running on the roads, while 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 runners on the shoulder.
What Makes It Great
This road is 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.
Be on the look out for wildlife on your run. This trail is part of a designated “Watchable Wildlife area.” 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 run, 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 junction of route 191 and 128 and continue 8 miles to route 313, the turnoff for Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park 8 miles north passing Arches National Park.
Who is Going to Love It
Road runners will love all these options outlined in the paragraph above. As all of these runs are out and back,you can chose to do a 6-mile run 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 running the paved pathway from the edge of town or you can add up to 16 mile by running north on the Moab Canyon Paved Path from the Lion’s Park Trail Hub Parking. River Road is flat a flat run, if you chose to run the 16 mile paralleling route 191, you will have 500+ vertical foot elevation gain.
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 run from town. There are bathrooms at the parking lot and parking and use are free.