The Bar M Loop is a fairly easy ride technically. Elevation change is
modest at about 300 feet. Many families ride this trail, including baby
trailers and trail-a-bikes. (Occasional washouts and other erosion changes
may occur -- ask for current conditions.) The loop is 8 miles long.
View into Seven Mile Canyon, near the north end of
the loop. Photos April 2006.
You can ride this trail either direction from the Bar M
trailhead (named for the Bar M restaurant near the trailhead). Most do it
counter-clockwise. I like clockwise -- I'm going slightly uphill for the
interesting parts, so I can take more time to watch the scenery, then
flying downhill after leaving the sandstone.
Handlebar view as we skirt the edge of Seven Mile
Canyon. This is the only "nervous" part of the ride, and can be
bypassed by staying on the doubletrack.
Despite its reputation as an
"easy ride," the Bar M is definitely worth doing. Use it as an
afternoon "quickie" or a recovery-day ride. Advanced riders will
get their fill by branching off the Bar M onto the Moab
Riding clockwise on the west side of Bar M. You'll
hear the highway sounds as it runs parallel to the trail on the west side.
There's only one spot on the trail that will make new riders nervous. At
the far northeast corner of the loop, a singletrack takes you along the
edge of the cliffs of Seven Mile Canyon. If you're riding with kids, you
might want to keep right (clockwise ride) and stay on the doubletrack away
from the cliff.
Riding along the edge of Seven Mile Canyon.
||The "business side" (east half) of the trail hugs
the border between red dirt and the top of the Entrada sandstone. There
are a couple of spurs that take you to overlooks. Along the loop are
connections to new trails. To the east are slickrock trails Circle O
A. On the south are tech singletracks Bar B, Deadman's
Ridge, and Longbranch. On the west is the
easy beginner singletrack Rusty Spur. Inside
the Bar M loop are two singletrack loops, the easy Lazy-EZ
and the intermediate North 40.
typical riding surface for the Bar M's eastern side -- flat slickrock
alternating with red dirt doubletrack.
|One popular riding option is to climb from Moab on the Old
Highway 191 paved trail. After riding the Bar M, you bomb back to town the way
you came. This makes a fairly quick 17-mile ride. The north end of the Bar
M connects to the Sovereign ATV trail, which heads north to the Sovereign
Singletrack mountain bike trail.
You'll notice a lot of agate lying around on the trail, as well as
occasional volcanic cinders. You'll see the slope of the salt-dome
anticline that produced the Moab. This is an interesting ride
View west from the trail, looking at cliffs of
Wingate sandstone on top of the Chinle formation. The rock layers to the
west of the highway have been thrust upward above those on the east side
by the Moab fault.
||Several "shortcuts" go between the eastern and
western half of the trail. There are little roads everywhere! But the
trail is well-marked. Just follow the signs. At the southern end of the
loop, you'll notice a lot of tires continuing straight where the trail
does an "almost-180". These bikers were heading for the box
canyon overlook, just a short distance south. It's worth taking the trip.
After passing the canyon, double back. There's little of interest further
At the far southern end of the loop, we're getting a
glimpse of the box canyon "feeder" to Courthouse Wash.
|New slickrock and singletrack rides have been added since
the original trail review. Together these make the
"Moab Brand Trails," and include
the Rockin A, Circle O,
and Bar B. This
is great riding, with a lot of not-scary but challenging rock. For those
who crave gnarly, there's Killer B and (less
gnarly) Deadman's Ridge. For those looking for
mellow singletrack, try Rusty Spur or the Lazy-EZ
loop. Experienced beginners can ride Circle O
or North 40.
northwest as we're closing the loop.
|Riding waypoints Bar M Loop
Parking on Old 191 N 38° 38.864' W 109° 40.156'
(Moab Old 191 Trailhead N 38° 34.945' W 109° 30.587')
Bar-M turnoff N 38° 38.444' W 109° 39.462'
|Bar-M turn-north N 38° 38.311' W 109°
Right turn N 38° 39.915' W 109° 40.583'
Bar-M meets pipeline N 38° 39.905' W 109° 40.631'
Left on 191 N 38° 40.192' W 109° 41.045'
From the north: Drive south on US-191 for 22 miles south of I-70. From
Moab, drive 7 miles north from the Colorado River on 191. When you see
the Gemini Bridges parking area, look for a gravel road on the opposite
side (east, away from the cliffs). Turn onto the gravel road and
immediately go right. The first parking area GPS N 38°
39.38' W 109° 40.66' is restaurant parking, although many riders park
here. The road you're driving on is the western side of the traditional
Bar M loop. Keep driving another 0.2 miles then turn left to the official
Brand Trails parking in the valley. Backtrack up to the Bar M trail on the
eastern side of the fence -- across from the paved Old Highway 191 Trail.
Alternate: From Moab, ride the Old Highway 191 (paved trail) until you reach
the Bar M sign. That's the southern tip of the loop, through the fence on
your right. You can also connect further north, just before Old 191 passes
underneath Highway 191. Instead of ducking under the road, step through the
break in the fence on the right. The gravel trail is the Bar M
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