The Chisholm Trail is found off Highway 313 (the route to Dead Horse Point ) around 10 miles from US 191. It was completed in 2016. The trail is 7.2 miles long, with two trailheads near its south (uphill) end. The top elevation on the trail is around 5950 feet.
The Chisholm Trail connects the western side of Big Lonely on the Navajo Rocks Loop to the Mustang Loop of the Horsethief Area trails . On the way, it passes near the Horsethief Campground with three connecting spurs to the camping area. The southernmost of these spurs connects to the Rodeo and the Rowdy and Wrangler trails south of the campground.
From Horsethief to the Navajo Rocks Loop on Chisholm!!!
The Chisholm trailhead can be used to descend the last 1/2 mile of Chisholm to the Mustang Loop and its attached trail system. This is just a tiny bit of Chisholm. But if you do the loop I describe below, you'll catch this piece at the end of your ride.
From the 313 trailhead, go across the road and ride northwest for 1/2 mile. Just after the trail rolls over a large pipeline, fork left to do a clockwise ride around the Rodeo loop. To do Rodeo counterclockwise, continue another 0.3 miles then fork left toward the campground. At the 4-way 1/10th mile later, turn hard left and you're on Rodeo.
Chisholm is also your access to the beginner Horsethief Campground trails ( Rowdy and Wrangler ) if you're not actually camped there. From the trailhead on the campground road, go south 1/10th mile, fork hard right onto the alternate to the campground, then keep straight at the 4-way trail fork.
From either the Highway 313 or Horsethief Campground road trailheads, Chisholm can be done northbound as an out-and-back. The distance simply depends on how far you want to go. If you start at 313 and turn around when you hit Big Lonely , your ride will be 13.6 miles.Some riders park on the dirt road just north of where Big Lonely crosses Highway 313. After riding west on the dirt road 0.3 miles to intersect Chisholm, they go south for the out-and-back. This makes their return trip slightly downhill.
Let's start our ride from the Highway 313 parking, northbound. Cross the road to the continuing singletrack. The riding surface is easy here, and can be done by beginners and experienced kids. There's one mound of slickrock where you might need to shift a gear or stand on the pedals. The trail will get a bit harder once you're past Horsethief Campground.The trail has a barely perceptible downslope as it winds away from the highway. The track will alternate between dirt and slickrock. In slickrock areas, the trail is marked with pale green stripes on the rock.
Note that the Horsethief Campground itself can be used as the starting spot for your ride, but only if you're camping there. (The little trailhead OUTSIDE the campground is available for non-campers.)
Keep straight and right to continue toward Big Lonely.There aren't a lot of great views here, but it's pretty. Occasionally you'll see long vistas to the north. The best sandstone gawking will occur after you leave Chisholm on one of the longer loop options.
Chisholm is great fun. There are a lot of trail miles stuffed into this area between Mustang and Navajo Rocks. The constant turns slow the hammerheads down, so it's easier to keep a mixed-ability group together. Good steering practice for intermediates.
The Big Lonely trail fork is where you commit to a loop or lariat ride. The shortest loop is to fork to the right and take Big Lonely then Coney Island to Seven Up.
After doing Chisholm northbound from the Horsethief Area trailhead on Highway 313, fork right on Big Lonely . Cross the road and continue to Coney Island. It will be 0.7 miles from Chisholm to the spot where Coney Island starts as an old jeep road.
After 2.8 miles, you'll pass the fork to Middle Earth (keep right) as Coney Island makes its last 0.3-mile drop toward Rocky Tops on the Navajo Rocks loop.
You'll spend the next 0.9 miles working south on the white dot doubletrack. (You won't see the dots until you're almost to Seven Up.) The DT will drop off the hill, then run across a grassy valley before climbing up to join Seven Up. Keep right and begin climbing on Seven Up , marked by blue paint spots.
After 1.6 miles, follow the singletrack Seven Up as it veers to the right off the doubletrack. Around 0.2 miles later, the Whirlwind connector forks to the right uphill.
(This would be your downhill route if you started at the Horsethief Area Chisholm trailhead on 313 and descended to Mustang. Or if you decided to ride the loop counter-clockwise.)
If you're looking to get the climbing done early in the loop, start at the Navajo Rocks Big Mesa trailhead. Cross the road to Middle Earth. Go 1/2 mile to Coney Island and turn left onto the loop described above. This will add one mile and about 100 vertical feet of climbing.
A very nice option is to fork when Chisholm hits Big Lonely . Continue on as the trail becomes Big Mesa. Drop down to the Big Mesa trailhead and cross the road to Middle Earth. Fork to the left on Coney Island and enter the loop ride above. You'll spend 6.5 miles on this "detour." Substituting this route for Coney Island adds 3 miles to the loop distance and around 400 vertical feet of climbing.
After doing Big Lonely and Big Mesa as above, continue to Ramblin rather than dropping to the Big Mesa trailhead. Take Rocky Tops back. When you hit the doubletrack marking the start of Coney Island, turn south (left) on the White Dot doubletrack to resume the main loop. This makes your loop 10.2 miles longer and adds over 1000 vertical. That makes your ride 26 miles with 2400 feet of climbing. Need still more? Extend the south end of the loop (see below).
When you reach the fork from Seven Up to Whirlwind on the loop above, there are five possible routes back uphill: Whirlwind's right fork (the loop described) versus Whirlwind's left fork, Seven Up to Hildalgo or Wildcat or to Getaway . All these routes will eventually funnel into the Mustang Loop . The longest path is continuing Seven Up south to Getaway, then heading uphill to the Mustang Loop's south side. This option is 2.8 miles longer and adds a hundred-plus feet of extra climbing. A loop extended both north AND south (substituting Big Mesa and Middle Earth for Coney Island, and taking Seven Up to Getaway) would be 21.8 miles. And if you did the Ramblin-Rocky Tops thing, you're around 30 miles.
0.0 Left from parking, cross road
N38 34.859 W109 47.868
0.3 Cross dirt road
0.8 Keep straight (L = to Rowdy)
N38 35.045 W109 48.436
0.9 Trailhead, straight across road
N38 35.127 W109 48.437
1.5 Keep R (L = to campground entry)
N38 35.089 W109 48.859
6.1 Cross dirt road N38 37.019 W109 49.222
6.8 R on Big Lonely
N38 37.257 W109 48.795
7.5 Straight on Coney Island
N38 36.931 W109 48.370
N38 37.831 W109 47.006
10.6 R on DT (straight = Rocky Tops)
N38 37.803 W109 46.832
11.4 R on Seven Up
N38 37.197 W109 47.046
13.2 R on Whirlwind
N38 36.020 W109 47.229
13.4 R on North Whirlwind
N38 35.916 W109 47.307
14.5 R on Mustang
N38 35.501 W109 47.388
15.3 R on Chisholm
N38 35.088 W109 47.595
15.8 Back at trailhead
Highway 313 Horsethief Area (Chisholm) Trailhead: At mile 12.5, spot the trailhead kiosk on the left side of the road. About 150 feet uphill, turn left into the parking area. Eastbound (away from the road) takes you to the Horsethief trail system. West across the road takes you toward the Horsethief Campground trails and on toward Navajo Rocks.
Horsethief Campground Road: Turn left toward Horsethief Campground at mile 11.8 from 191. After 0.1 mile on the gravel road (before reaching the campground), turn left into the fenced parking area. The southbound trail is at the corner of the parking lot, while the northbound main trail is across the road from the western entrance.
Horsethief Campground: Use this trailhead only if you're camping! On your left at mile 11.8 from Highway 191. Go 0.3 miles and turn left into the campground. After claiming your camp spot, pedal around either campground loop. If you take the Rowdy trail entry at the far end of the eastern camping loop it will you to a connector to the main Chisholm trail. You can also get on Chisholm by pedaling out the campground entry, across the road, and taking singletrack 100 feet to join Chisholm.
Big Mesa Trailhead: On Highway 313 at mile 6.4 after leaving Highway 191, just as you reach the top of a hill, look for a gravel turn on your right immediately after you pass through the cut in the hill. The Middle Earth trail starts across the road from parking.
Gemini Bridges Road (Getaway) Trailhead: At mile 12.9, turn left at the Gemini Bridges sign. About 200 feet from the pavement, spot a small parking area on your left with the Getaway trail just east of parking. A short distance down Getaway, you can take the Mustang Loop clockwise to reach the east end of Chisholm.
Printable one-page ride guide
GPS track files (right-click and select "Save Target as..."):
Chisholm trail only
Note loop rides below pass through campground
Chisholm Loop (Coney Island, Whirlwind) 15.8 mi
Chisholm Loop Longer (Getaway) 18.2 mi
Bigger Loop (Big Mesa, Getaway) 21.8 mi
GPX multi-track, area trails
High-res map for printing:
View Chisholm Area Trails aerial map
View Horsethief/Chisholm topo map
Lodging, camping, shops: Link to Moab area resources
Water: Horsethief Campground
Camping: Developed campground, nightly fee