Horsethief Campground Trails
Wrangler and Rowdy Loops, and a bit of the Chisholm Trail
The Horsethief Campground lies just off Highway 313 (the route to Dead
Horse Point) around 11 miles from US 191. Along the southern border of
the camping area are two short and easy mountain bike loops, Wrangler and
Rowdy. Also passing near the
campground and connecting to these loops is the Chisholm
Trail -- which connects across Highway 313 to the
Mustang Loop and the other Horsethief
Area trails and to Big Lonely of the
Navajo Rocks Loop in the north -- and the Rodeo
Handlebar view on the easy campground
loops. Photos and trail review by Bruce
on October 28, 2015. Updated May 2017.
These trails are great for beginners. On
Wrangler in particular, the trail is firm, flat and smooth with plenty of
clearance. This loop is the superb for small kids. At an altitude of around 5800 feet, the riding season is
April through November.
Looking east on the southern limb of
the easier Wrangler Loop.
There are three access points to the loop trails from the
campground, but these should be reserved for campers. Riders who are
coming in for the day should start from small Chisholm trailhead parking
spot (on your left shortly after turning off the highway toward the
campground) and take Chisholm south then west to the campground trials.
You can also use the Highway 313 (Chisholm)
trailhead and ride one mile to the loops.
On the far east side of the Rowdy
loop, we're riding north (toward the campground) on slickrock. To continue
the loop, we'll fork left at the sign.
Access for non-campers via the Chisholm Trail
The Chisholm Trail passes by Horsethief Campground,
with an alternate path that goes through the campground. The West
Horsethief (Chisholm) trailhead is on the road to the campground, on the
1/10th mile after turning off 313.
From the trailhead parking, pedal south
(away from the gravel road) 0.1 mile. When you reach the trail sign on
slickrock, turn right (west) downhill and follow the green stripes another
0.1 mile to the Rowdy/Rodeo fork.
Starting southbound on Chisholm from
the mountain bike parking lot.
If you're staying in the campground, there are spurs from
the camping loops to Rowdy and Wrangler. (You can also get on northbound Chisholm by
pedaling out the main campground entry road and straight across to
singletrack. This connector trail joins Chisholm in around 100 feet. See the Chisholm Trail page
for details on other rides using Chisholm.)
In the campground, Rowdy starts at the
far southeastern corner of the east camping loop
If you're starting from the main Chisholm (Horsethief Area) trailhead
on the east side of Highway 313, you'll ride 1.1 miles to reach the loops.
Start by crossing the road heading west.
We're in the north end of the parking area of the trailhead
on Highway 313, looking east. To get to the campground trails, we'll turn
around and cross the road.
The trail has a barely perceptible downslope as it winds
toward the campground. The track will alternate between dirt and slickrock. In slickrock areas, the trail is marked with pale green
stripes on the rock.
You'll reach a fork after 0.9 miles, with a trail sign bolted to
slickrock. Here the campground spur veers left downhill (easy to ride
past, because once you reach the sign you've gone 20 feet past the trail
fork). After another 1/10th mile, you'll reach the Rowdy Loop.
On slickrock areas, the trail is
marked with pale green stripes.
The Wrangler Loop is the easiest trail in the area, suitable for true
beginners and kids. It's 0.7 miles around the loop with virtually no
There are two spurs that connect Wrangler to the campground
roads. One is at the far west end of the western camping loop -- and at
the far west end of Wrangler. The other is at the far northern edge of the
Wrangler Loop, connecting to southwestern corner of the east camping loop.
View south where the spur to Wrangler
leaves the far end of the western camping loop.
The riding surface is mostly hardpacked dirt. The trees are juniper with an occasional pinion pine. Shrubs
are sage, Brigham Tea, and bitterbrush.
Riding east (clockwise) on the northern half of
the Wrangler loop. The trail goes past the rock outcrop, not over it.
On the slickrock spots, the trail is marked with pale blue
paint stripes. The slickrock
areas are smooth and flat. There's nothing tricky here.
Looking west on the southern side of
the loop as the trail crosses a slickrock area.
At the eastern end of the Wrangler loop, a spur takes you
through a metal gate to the Rowdy Loop.
The trail passes through a gentle
slope on the southern side of the loop.
The Rowdy Loop has a couple of ledges and a bit of gentle rolling dirt
path, so it's a tiny bit more difficult than Wrangler. But it's still a
very easy 0.5 miles.
Looking south (toward the Rowdy Loop
from the eastern end of the Wrangler loop) as we pass through the gate
between the two trail loops.
The southern side of the Rowdy Loop is the easiest. There
are two sets of ledges on the northern side -- easy for experienced
intermediates, but enough to make kids and beginners nervous. Riding the
loop counterclockwise puts these ledges on the downhill.
Westbound (riding counterclockwise) on
the northern side of Rowdy, we're approaching a one-foot drop.
The riding surface alternates between slickrock and hardpack
dirt. There's plenty of room for newbies to bobble around.
View west on the southern side of the
Rowdy Loop as we pass over slickrock. The trail is marked with
The eastern loop connects to the campground roads only
through Wrangler or via the Chisholm trail spur. (The eastern side of Rowdy shares 100 feet of trail
with the spur from Chisholm.) Chisholm would be
your connector from the campground to Rodeo, Mustang
Area trails, or to Navajo Rocks via
We're heading clockwise on northern
Rowdy. This is one of two spots that make me recommend you go
counterclockwise. This short bumpy climb is very do-able by intermediates but will
make beginners get off the bike to walk. Going counterclockwise puts it on
At the far east end of Rowdy, the southern side of the loop connects to
Chisholm and Rodeo at
a 4-way intersection. If you're going counterclockwise, fork right to
continue the loop. Then after 100 feet, fork right again for Rowdy north,
or keep straight to continue to the campground.
Rolling east (counterclockwise) on the
southern side of Rowdy.
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Ride from Highway 313 (Chisholm):
0.0 Left from parking, cross road
N38 34.859 W109 47.868
1.0 Keep R (L = Rowdy return)
N38 35.014 W109 48.518
100 feet, then L (R = to CG, E
N38 35.023 W109 48.567
1.2 R through gate N38 34.969 W109 48.739
20 feet, then keep R on
1.3 Keep L (R = to CG, SW E loop)
N38 35.017 W109 48.811
1.6 Keep L (R = to CG, W loop)
N38 34.939 W109 49.026
2.0 Finish Wrangler, fork R
N38 34.975 W109 48.743
through gate to Rowdy, keep R
2.3 R on Chisholm
N38 35.014 W109 48.518
3.2 Back at highway parking
From I-70 and Crescent Junction, drive south on US-191 for 20 miles (about
9 miles north of the Colorado River if you're driving out from Moab) to
Highway 313. Drive uphill 11 miles. Horsethief Campground Road Trailhead: Turn left on gravel
road at the campground sign 11.8 miles from Highway
191. After 0.1 miles, turn left into the fenced parking area. Pedal south
on Chisholm 0.1 miles, then fork right and go another 0.1 miles to Rowdy. From the Campground: Use the campground connectors ONLY if you're camping.
The CG entry is 0.3 miles down the gravel road, on the left. From your camp spot, pedal around either
campground loop. You'll find a marked trail entry at the far end of either the
eastern or western camping loops, and at the southwest corner of the
eastern loop. Highway 313 Horsethief Area (Chisholm) Trailhead: At mile 12.5, spot the
trailhead kiosk on the left side of the road. Turn into parking. Start the
ride to the campground loops by taking the Chisholm singletrack westbound
across the road.