Bruce heads toward the La Sal Mountains early on Above Abyss. Photos and review May 29, 2019 by Bruce.
The Above Abyss trail is an official alternate route at the
trail. The trail is 2.3 miles long, joining the main outgoing Slickrock
trail to the northeast corner of the Slickrock Loop. The ride offers some
nice views, with somewhat easier riding than the main trail.
Above Abyss can be done as a longer version of the
trail, bypassing one mile of the main trail that includes the main loop fork. Or, you can do
Above Abyss as your destination ride, turning back once you hit Slickrock. If you do the practice
loop then Above Abyss before heading back on the main route, it makes a nice lariat ride of
8.1 miles and 2000 vertical feet of climbing.
Some of the riding resembles the easier stretches of Slickrock, while other spots are unique.
Here's what you'll see to your right. The trail goes down and across Hell's Revenge. But keep pedaling straight and you'll find Above Abyss.
At this time (2019), the hardest thing about riding Above Abyss is finding it. So pay attention
to the following instructions!
On the outgoing Slickrock trail, you'll get briefly entangled with the Hell's Revenge 4x4 trail
at mile 1.7. As you get away from the 4x4 route, you'll do 3 steep climbs. At the ridge after
the third climb, you'll see the trail turn 90 degrees to the right and drop very steeply down
and across the 4x4 path. But don't turn downhill!
You're now almost exactly one mile past the second practice loop fork, or mile 1.8 from the
trailhead if you came via the main trail. Ignore the descending trail to your right and instead
pedal straight ahead on top of the fin of rock. After about 30 feet, you'll notice the first
paint dot on the rock. Follow the dots. In about 1/10th mile, you'll hit the first little trail
sign confirming that you're on the trail.
Cruising an easier stretch.
The trail is marked pretty well, but the markings begin quite a distance away from other trails and 4x4 routes.
The trail is fairly easy to follow once you find it. If you lose the paint dots while riding
fast and eyeballing the scenery, backtrack a bit to see where you lost the riding line.
At mile 0.9 of Above Abyss, the trail gets close to the Hell's Revenge 4x4 route. Keep to the
right at anything that looks like a connecting route. I didn't find anything confusing here.
As mentioned, the riding is significantly easier than many areas of the Slickrock trail. Climbs
are short, with nothing near as steep as the slopes you struggled up before entering Above
Abyss. There are a couple of wheel-trap dips as you first start the trail, but otherwise it's
a very non-tricky ride.
A bit of unsettled weather approaches the La Sal Mountains.
Approaching a viewpoint with 270 degrees of canyon views at the northeast corner of Above Abyss.
You'll have frequent views into the canyon and of the La Sals. At mile 1.4, there's a nice
viewpoint as the trail turns from northbound to westbound on the edge of the canyon. It's worth
a stop here.
At mile 1.6 Above Abyss crosses the Hell's Revenge 4x4 path. As you hit the blackened 4x4 route,
keep straight and head onto the rock on the other side. (Have faith. You won't see any sign
of the continuing trail until you've gone about 50 feet.)
One stretch of Above Abyss gets into the upper layers of Navajo, when the climate was changing and the ocean was encroaching on the desert dunes. This zone is whiter, gnarled, and shows signs of ancient debris.
Riding past the head of Icebox Canyon, with a bit of Colorado River visible.
Above Abyss will now skirt the head of Icebox Canyon at around mile 1.9. The views here are
awesome. At the far side of the canyon, watch for a painted trail fork on the rock. To the
right is a 200-foot spur to overlook the canyon. Left is the way out.
About 100 yards after the trail fork for the overlook spur, there's a second trail fork painted
onto the rock. (The circle designates a fork, with the dots outside the circle showing the
possible riding directions.) Straight and right is a short 1/10th mile connector to the main
Slickrock trail. Use this if you're planning to finish the main Slickrock loop counterclockwise.
Pedaling away from Icebox.
Handlebar view on the left fork, as we head toward the main Slickrock loop.
The left fork goes 0.2 miles to the Slickrock trail, and would be your preferred path if you're
heading back to the trailhead. This route is also prettier and more fun. As you reach the main
Slickrock trail, fork left. After one mile, you'll hit the main loop fork. Go left to head
If you're riding the main loop clockwise, finding the Icebox Canyon connector is a bit harder
because of a lack of landmarks. Starting about 1/2 mile after Shrimp Rock, watch carefully
on your left for paint spots on the rock. You have two chances to find a trail. Or use GPS
(tracks downloadable below).
Nice trail. Not too difficult compared to Slickrock overall. Makes a nice alternative ride
if you're bored with the main trail, or extra miles if you're one of those superhumans who
aren't challenged enough by the main ride.
At the Icebox Canyon viewpoint.
The Slickrock Trail begins
on the Sand
Flats Road just east of town, reached by turning left off Moab's main drag onto 300 South, then right when
the road ends, then second left. From the entry gate (where you pay your fee), drive about
0.6 mile. You'll see a large parking lot on the left, with bathrooms (but no water.)