The Athena trail lies just southeast of the city of Green River. This 5.5 mile loop
is for experienced intermediate to advanced riders. The usual riding
season will be March through November. Aerobically, it's a fairly easy
ride. There's a bit of
up-and-down as the trail twists through badland canyons, adding up to 600
vertical feet per lap. But there are no prolonged climbs.
Looking west as Bruce navigates the badlands along
the Green River. Photos and review March 19, 2018.
It's hard to describe the "character" of this ride.
It's like a bunch of rides tossed into a blender. In a fun way.
There's a lot of up-and-down, a bit of slope-hugging, a bit of open
slickrock, a bit of crank-across-the-desert.
The trail passes through an unusual colorful badland area. Eye candy in
the Morrison Formation from the late Jurassic. You'll ride through slopes
of bright white, deep purple, orange, brown, and even green. And there are
views of the
Book Cliffs, the San Rafael Reef, and the Green River.
Zipping down through some chunky stuff as clay gives
way to sandstone.
The Athena trail was opened in March 2018. At the time of
this review -- two days after the trail was opened -- it rides nicely. But
there's the typical "new trail stuff" of loose dirt and rough
spots. It will be awesome when it's all packed in.
The Athena trail is named after the Athena missile, which was based in this
area during the early days of the Cold War. Signs of the old missile base
include the checkerboard of concrete tent pads
along the road to the trailhead.
Hugging the purple side-slope of a small mesa.
The Athena trailhead is less than a mile off the I-70 freeway, just
east of the Green River. This makes the Athena trail an ideal
fading-light ride on your way to Moab. (There are a lot of great rides in
the Green River area -- but by the time you've done 25 miles of dirt road
to get there, you could already be in Moab. Being right outside of town,
the Athena trail is a sign of great things to come in Green River.)
Looking north over the trailhead parking, with a
water tank of the town of Green River and the Book Cliffs in the
Don't let the blah gray dirt of the trailhead area fool you.
After seeing mile after mile of gray Mancos Shale during the drive to
Green River, you could be forgiven if you thought that's all there was.
But at the Athena trail, all the ugly of the whole ride is stuffed into the first half mile.
Then things get psychedelic.
the top of the first climb out of the valley on the counterclockwise ride.
The trail forks immediately upon leaving the fenced parking
area. I rode the loop counterclockwise by keeping to the right. A lot of
the features "felt" like this was the direction to go.
you warm up on that half-mile of sagebrush, climb to the overlook
above the Green River. Here the singletrack temporarily joins an old
doubletrack as it approaches the cliffs. When the singletrack veers to the
right away from the doubletrack, consider taking a detour on that
doubletrack 1/10th mile to the overlook in the photo.
View over the Green River, reached via a short
Once you pedal away from the river overlook, you'll begin a
series of twisting descents and climbs. It will seem like each one lies in a
different type of mudstone or clay. Purple. Green. Brown. Orange. Some of
the riding is easy; some is hard.
Descending southbound as the trail follows a band of
sandstone in the clay.
If you can slow down enough to look, there are views from
the top of each little mesa you cross. You'll have glimpses of the Book Cliffs to the north, and of the teeth of
the San Rafael Reef in the distance to the west.
Cresting another little hill, ready to descend again.
The Book Cliffs are in the background. Below them is the town of Green River.
On the far west side of the loop, you'll find some slickrock.
Not a lot. I believe this is Salt Wash sandstone. But the terrain changes
so quickly, I'm not sure about that.
After the flattish area of slickrock, it's back to canyons and changing
colors of shale and mudstone as you curve back
towards the trailhead.
Heading east way from the slickrock area.
Definitely worth doing. This
trail is going to be awesome when it's all packed down and ridden in. But
don't wait. Add the Athena trail to your plans.
Dropping a ramp in this drone view.
Counterclockwise loop on
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On I-70 eastbound, take the second (east) Green River exit. Turn right at
the off-ramp's stop sign, then immediately right again at the T
intersection. Drive 1/3 mile west. Turn hard left on a gravel road. Drive
past the concrete pads of old "tent city" and about 150 yards later,
turn right into the parking area.
No water or bathroom at trailhead.
Camping at the Green River State Park, 2 miles away.
(Two commercial RV campgrounds in Green River)
Hint: Motels are much cheaper here than in Moab. I like to play
away the afternoon in the Green River area and stay in town for the night.
My favorite eating spot is Ray's. Then I head for Moab early the next