Canyonlands and Arches National Parks fill up fast, so it’s nice to go someplace less crowded than the most touristy trails.
After visiting Moab for ten years, usually four times per year, we avoid the parks unless we are hosting out-of-the-country visitors, enjoying the seclusion and solitude of lesser-known, but no less spectacular treks. Here, I share with you a few of my favorite out-of-the-parks trails.
Moonflower Canyon – It’s not a full-on backpacking excursion, but it’s a nice two-hour hike where you can enjoy some leave-no-trace camping under the vivid stars of the Milky Way just off Cane Creek Road, about 12 miles out of town.
This canyon does get quite as crowded during the height of the season, but early March is a good time to visit if you are the adventure seeker who wants to dip your toe into backpacking.
The Bar “M” Trails – Located about ten miles north of town on Highway 191, the Bar Trails offer a good degree of wide-open expanses of mostly smooth terrain stretching all the way to the arches which can be seen in the far distance. Take your bike and take your dogs. Just make sure to clean up after them.
Seven Mile Trail – It’s a one-size-fits-all that leads to small pools cut out of the sandstone, and eventually to the wide and welcoming Courthouse Wash, which offers spectacular views. Take water and plenty of poop bags for your dogs. Pack out your dog poop!
The Slick Rock Bike Trails
Whether you are taking your bike or walking with your dogs, the slickrock trails are fantastic and are just a stone’s throw from town. This terrain is much more heavily buckled than the Bar Trails and a bit more technically challenging.
On a weekday, you will enjoy few people (in early to mid March) and spectacular scenery leading up to the edge of Abyss and Echo Canyons. The trail offers a big loop for those who are ambitious and tough.
We completed the entire six-mile loop and we had a blast going up and down the undulating sandstone. One certainly feels like they have blasted off to Mars on this terrain, and there is plenty of parking around the trailhead.
Other out-of-the-parks trails I recommend include Gemini Bridges and Poison Spider trails (if you don’t mind sharing them with Jeeps).
For the more adventurous, Horseshoe Canyon and Great Gallery are some of the most incredible, most remote places in Utah. If you don’t want to fret over all the preparations for these spectacular canyons, we can highly recommend booking a trip through the experts at Navtec Adventures.