The Horsethief trail system is found along Highway 313 northwest of
Moab. The riding area opened in 2015 with around 25 miles of new
singletrack. There are several options for entering the area, after which
the system is best viewed as five connected loops:
1. the Mustang Loop at the heart of the system
2. the Horsethief Campground loops, via the Chisholm Trail from upper Mustang
3. the Rodeo trail loop from the upper Chisholm trail
4. the Whirlwind Loop, connecting the east (downhill) side of Mustang to 7-up
5. the lariat loop of Wildcat, 7-up singletrack, and Hildago
Trailheads and Connections
The Chilsholm Trailhead is located on Highway 313 about 12 miles from US 191. It provides access to an easy lariat loop ride (western Chisholm plus the short Wrangler and Rowdy loops at the Horsethief Campground) and to the intermediate-technical trails branching off the Mustang Loop downhill to the east.
For most riders, this will be the preferred trailhead for riding this area. Eastbound on Chisholm, the Mustang Loop is 0.5 miles downhill.
The Chisholm Trail crosses the campground road east of the campground. There's a small trailhead here.
Campers (and only campers) can enter the trail system directly from the campground loops. One access leaves the apex of the eastern camping loop. Wrangler has two connectors, one to the western end of the east loop, and one at the far west end of the west camping loop.
There's roadside parking along the dirt Gemini Bridges road just as it leaves Highway 313, where you'll find the top of the Getaway Trail. This trailhead is used by riders shuttling the Mag 7 ride (or doing a loop of Bull Run plus Getaway), so it tends to fill up. The new (as of 2015) upper Getaway singletrack will take you to the handle of the Mustang Loop in 0.6 miles. Or you can continue on Getaway down to 7-up to enter the Horsethief area from below.
Riders who want to enter the area from downhill can drive 1.1 miles down the Gemini Bridges road to the Bull Run Trailhead. From here, pedal north on 7-up. Your first fork (mile 0.2) will be Getaway, where you can climb to the handle of the Mustang loop. Further along at mile 1.7 the new 7-up singletrack option will take you to the southern end of Wildcat. Or you can continue on 7-up to the bottom of Hidalgo at mile 2.5, or the Whirlwind Loop at mile 3.1.
You can do these loops as a side-ride (or a destination) while climbing 7-up. This route involves substantial climbing to reach the Horsethief riding area. From the bottom of 7-up on Highway 313, it's 7.1 miles to the bottom of the Whirlwind Loop. If you drop down to 7-up from Navajo Rocks on the doubletrack connector (expect some sandy dirt-road riding), it will be about 4 miles from the southern side of the Navajo Rocks loop to reach Whirlwind.
You can also reach the Horsethief area by forking onto the bottom of Chisholm from the Big Lonely trail of the Navajo Rocks system, just to the north of where it crosses Highway 313.
Horsethief Individual Trails
The Wrangler Loop is the easiest trail in the area, suitable for true beginners and kids. It's 0.7 miles around the loop with virtually no elevation change. There are two connectors to campground roads, plus a connection to the eastern loop Rowdy.
The Rowdy Loop has a couple of ledges and a bit of gentle rolling dirt path, so it's a tiny bit more difficult than Wrangler. But it's still a very easy 0.5 miles. The eastern side of Rowdy shares 100 feet of trail with Chisholm, which is your connector from the campground trails to the main Horsethief system.
The Chisholm Trail runs between the Big Lonely portion of the Navajo Rocks loop and the Mustang Loop, crossing Highway 313 on the way. There's a trailhead with parking where Chisholm crosses the road, with the trail descending in both directions from the highway. It's 7.2 miles long; intermediate; mostly dirt with some slickrock. West of 313 the trail has 500 vertical feet of climbing southbound, 200 northbound.
The Mustang Loop is the key to riding the other area trails. Mustang has connections to Chisholm, Getaway, and the two limbs of the Whirlwind Loop. Just down the southern limb of Whirlwind is Wildcat, with Hildago forking off Wildcat. These trails tie the Mustang Loop to 7-up downhill.
Most riders will chose to ride to Mustang from uphill via Chisholm, or by taking Getaway to the lariat-handle of the loop. There's 300 feet of elevation change from top to bottom. The trail surface is about 50:50 slickrock and dirt, solid intermediate technical, and rides well in either direction. The loop is 3 miles, with a 0.2-mile "handle" on the south that connects it to Getaway.
The Whirlwind Loop lies on the northeast (and downhill) side of the Mustang Loop. It shares about 100 yards of the Mustang Loop at the top. At the bottom of the loop is a short (about 0.1 mile) connector to 7-up.
The loop is 2.2 miles, with about 250 feet of elevation change. Climbing is mellow in either direction; I liked counterclockwise. The trail surface alternates slickrock and singletrack, and is intermediate in technical requirement.
Wildcat forks off the southern limb of Whirlwind about 0.1 miles after it leaves Mustang. A bit further downhill, Hildalgo forks away (or returns, depending on how you're riding it). If you combine the bit of Whirlwind down to Wildcat, Wildcat itself, the northern end of the 7-up singletrack, a segment of 7-up doubletrack, and Hildalgo as a return climb, it forms a 2.7-mile lariat loop with around 300 feet of elevation change. This route is a bit more techy than Mustang, but still solid intermediate.
Wildcat is a good route for reaching Mustang if you started riding from the Bull Run trailhead northbound on 7-up.
The Rodeo Trail is a 9.7-mile loop that includes a piece of the upper Chisholm trail, located between the Horsethief campround and the upper Highway 313 trailheads. It features a typical combination of dirt singletrack and open sandstone.
The recommended riding direction is clockwise.
Getaway runs from the upper Gemini Bridges Road down to the Arth's Corner trail -- where it also meets the downhill end of Bull Run. The trail is 7.8 miles long with 900 feet of elevation change. It connects to the handle of the Mustang Loop, and to 7-Up a bit further downhill.
Getaway is significantly easier than Bull Run for timid downhillers, and it makes a good climbing route. Overall this route is easier-intermediate.
The 7-up trail is the "bottom limit" of the Horsethief riding area. From south to north, the first connection is to Getaway. Then the new 7-up singletrack offers a fork to Wildcat. The next connections are Hildago then the spur to the Whirlwind Loop.
7-up is intermediate in tech requirement overall, but does have some ledges.
Horsethief West: On your right at mile 11.8 from Highway 191, turn toward the campground. The mountain bike trailhead is before the campground on your left. Start southbound on Chisholm to reach the Mustang-area trails.
Highway 313 (Chisholm) Trailhead: At mile 12.5, spot the trailhead kiosk on the left side of the road. Turn into parking. Pedal east (away from the highway) on Chisholm to intercept the Mustang Loop in 0.5 mile.
Gemini Bridges Road (Getaway) Trailhead: For longer rides of the area trails. 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. Mustang forks away from Getaway 0.6 miles from the trailhead.
Bull Run Trailhead: Drive 1.1 miles down the Gemini Bridges dirt road, then turn right into the trailhead. Start your ride to the Horsethief Area trails by heading left on 7up.