In addition to our outstanding hike to Delicate Arch during our camping weekend in Moab earlier this month, my husband and I took my 8- and 10-year-old kids on their first real mountain-bike ride. Sure, we’ve brought them off road a bit around our Colorado home, but the four of us have never together experienced riding in the “mountain biking Mecca” of Moab.
To find the appropriate trail for our young first-timers and this cautious mountain-biking Mom (I much prefer my skinny-tire road bike), we stopped by the downtown Moab Information Center. The friendly folks behind the counter here are always so helpful in recommending attractions and trails, and this time was no different. We picked up the “Moab Area Mountain Bike Trails” pamphlet and a nice staffer suggested the Bar M trail, described as a “mellow family ride on a dirt road with rocky sections.” An eight-mile loop sounded quite doable to us so we headed to the trailhead eight miles north of town.
Let’s just say that Moab’s definition of a “mellow family ride” and my definition of what we experienced are not one and the same.
Once the loop veered off the gravel road it was tough — we encountered uphill climbs, gnarly rocky spots and steep descents down Moab’s world-famous slickrock. The kids and I got off our bikes and walked parts of it (husband is a rock star). But we also surprised ourselves a bit, too.
In fact, I most marveled at the way my 10-year-old daughter handled her bike, changing gears like a pro and flying down hills to gain enough speed to pedal up the steeps. She managed to stay upright through deep sand, and she smiled through most of the trek that took us a total of about two hours.
While my son took a couple of falls, he, too, kept up with the pack, and when he was feeling comfortable on flat-ish surfaces he’d try to pull up his front tire to do some tough-guy wheelies. Toward the end, he was tired — asking why we didn’t take the short cut to make the loop just four miles — but I know he was so proud of himself when all was said and done. In fact, I think since that afternoon Moab bike ride, he’s shown a renewed interest in his mountain bike here at home — which is great as school’s coming to an end and we’ll be looking for all sorts of ways to keep active this summer.
If your kids are more advanced mountain bikers, the Bar M loop also provides access to the Circle O, Rockin’ A and Killer B trails (get it — together they spell M-O-A-B). And of course there’s also the popular Slickrock Bike Trail, among the most difficult mountain-biking trails in Moab (I could barely make it through the practice loop, when I attempted the route more than a decade ago).
No matter where you ride with your kids in the Moab area, you’ll enjoy drop-dead gorgeous landscapes of sandstone rock formations and the snow-capped La Sal Mountains — truly some of the most amazing scenery I’ve seen in the United States. And to celebrate a successful ride — head on over to Eddie McStiff’s microbrewery; an ice-cold beer for Mom and Dad, and root beer for the kids, are welcome post-bike treats!