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Devils Racetrack Trail

The Devils Racetrack is an awesome ATV track in the San Rafael Swell. Overall, this trail is advanced technical and moderately strenuous. Altitude change is 1200 feet, but some up-and-down riding makes total climbing about 1700. 

View across the Devils Racetrack. Walls are Wingate sandstone, capped by Kayenta. The butte on the skyline is Navajo sandstone. Photos by Bruce, December 9, 2002.

As an out-and-back, the round trip is 17.6 miles. This trail features fun riding -- technical sandstone -- but also awesome views -- down into the Devils Racetrack, out over the San Rafael, and up at the giant stone monoliths.
Yes, this is primarily an ATV and trials motorcycle trail. But don't let that put you off. (After all, most of Moab's trails are used by jeeps and ORVs.) The trail is fun to ride, with tech sections composed of hundreds of rock ledges in Kayenta sandstone. The trail reminds me of Golden Spike in Moab. Just get through the first yucky mile, and you'll love it.

Could there be a more picturesque trailhead? This is where the ride starts. If you don't see Dutchman Arch, you went the wrong way.

There are about 2 miles of advanced technical. The rock is rough, requiring quick route-picking, sufficient speed to clear tire-traps, and an aggressive attitude. Dirt sections are twisting and bermed, with ledges mixed in to keep things interesting.

Here's a handlebar view of sample tech trail, heading uphill. Look like fun? I cleaned this section, and I'm old and feeble. Get in the middle chain ring, stand up on the pedals, and attack!

The trail flirts with the edge of the Devils Racetrack, a sheer 300-foot chasm formed by cliffs of Wingate sandstone. As you follow the downsloping Kayenta, you'll pass castles and spires of Navajo Sandstone. This is a great ride if you like to look at pretty rocks. For an overview of the geology of the San Rafael, click here.

Here's the view into the Devils Racetrack. The walls are Wingate sandstone. The "racetrack" are the two bands of red in the Chinle skirts.

This is a "reverse profile" ride: you'll do most of the climbing on the way back. After an initial 200 foot climb over 2 miles, you'll drop 1200 feet, following the westward slope of the San Rafael Swell. It's great to hit the downhill ledges with fresh legs. But save some time and energy for the uphill trip.

Turning away from the Devils Raceway, we enter a land of spires and castles. We'll pass by the Twin Priests.

It's possible to do this ride as a downhill with shuttle. But it's not pleasant. To reach the ATV trail in the wash bottom with your shuttle vehicle, you need to turn off the freeway towards Moore (you can also reach Moore from the U-10 exit). About 2 miles east of town, head north past the Mollen Reef, through Short Canyon, turn right through Horn Silver Gulch, turn right to Coal Wash, then take the North Fork of Coal Wash. Overall, a shuttle is going to involve at least 40 miles on dirt roads, plus about 20 on the freeway. My advice: just suck up and ride it out-and-back!

As we head northwest, the land slopes steadily downward, following the tilt of the Kayenta sandstone (we're on the west side of the "swell" here). The spires are formed of Navajo sandstone. Many have colorful names -- you'll recognize Joe and His Dog across the wash to the north. We're now passing by the Twin Priests.

I was impressed with this trail. Uphill, it gives you a break after making an attack, so you can recover. Then you're ready to attack the next tech section in the middle chain ring. You hardly notice you're climbing. The rock is challenging but not too gnarly. On easier (dirt) sections, you have fantastic views, and frequent banked turns to compete for the attention of your eyeballs. I've ridden over 350 Utah trails, and this one would rank in my top 10%.

Spires and castles dominate the landscape as we descend into North Fork Coal Wash, which is the ride's end.

Riding Notes:
If riding from freeway, add 0.7 miles
0.0   Continue west from Dutchman Arch
        N 38 52.320' W 110 48.000'  alt=7000'
0.4   Keep straight as DT goes R
0.5   Veer R (north) as DT forks L
0.7   Sandy sections and short steep climb
        (Hang on -- it gets LOTS better)
2.0   Highest point, alt=7200'
2.5   First view of Devils Racetrack
        N 38 53.866' W 110 48.004'  alt=7030'
3.4   Trail heads westward to mesa, alt=6800'
5.4   Pass Twin Priests
        N 38 55.31' W 110 49.21'  alt=6600'
6-7   Ride past rock monoliths
8.8   Drop into North Fork Coal Wash
        N 38 57.075' W 110 50.749'  alt=5980'
        Turn around and head back.
Getting there:  On US-6 approaching Green River, turn right (westbound) on I-70. Drive 25 miles and exit at Ranch Exit 131. (If eastbound, the exit is 75 miles east of Salina. This exit was formerly numbered 129.) Turn left under the freeway and set your odometer. Veer right with the road. Cross a road at a cattleguard around mile 3. At mile 3.9, turn right N 38 50.630' W 110 42.316' on the road to Swasey's Cabin. Keep right (over the cattleguard) at 5.0. Keep on the main road, ignoring small doubletracks branching left. At 8.4, fork right towards Dutchman Arch. Continue under the freeway at N 38 52.068' W 110 46.742'. Caution: how high are the bikes on your roof?  Immediately on exiting the drain underpass, select the left fork of two well-traveled paths (a smaller DT may turn hard-left along the fence). After 1/3 mile (mile 9.2), fork left N 38 52.298' W 110 46.870'. Now keep straight to Dutchman Arch at mile 9.6, where you'll find space to park. Begin the ride by continuing on the road.
Note: If the road is wet, park before the freeway and begin your ride there. Add 0.7 miles to the above biking mileages.
Printable, one-page riding guide
Topo map for printing:   View
GPS track file (right-click and "Save as..."):
    Garmin         GPX
Lodging, camping, shops:  Links to Price and San Rafael area resources

Copyright 2002 Mad Scientist Software Inc