Once upon a time, mountain bikers came to Moab to ride the Slick Rock Trail, well times have changed. Now they come to ride The Whole Enchilada trail. The trail gets its name from the fact that if you ride the entire trail, you will experience just about every type of terrain there is available to mountain bikes. Unless you have ridden in the Tour de France and can climb 8000 feet, you will have to get a shuttle to the top of Geyser Pass. There are many shuttle services available in Moab that can assist you. If you do think you are an awesome rider you can ride to the top as part of a huge loop, if that sounds like your cup of tea check out the Moab, Climb.
When most people see the Whole Enchilada has 7800 feet of descending, they are like "sign me up"! Yeah, a 7800' downhill bike ride sounds awesome. I don't mean to spoil your fun, but before you ever get to coast down a single foot of trail, you will have to make a brutal climb from Geyser Pass at 10,500 ft to Burro Pass at 11,150 feet in just over a mile. First off a 650 feet climb is no joke but to do it at such a high elevation will leave your lungs feeling like they are going to explode. I made it with only one dab near the top then got to recover for the next 15 minutes while the rest of our group made the climb. Trust me, this will be one of the hardest climbs you ever do.
After you top Burro Pass the downhill finally begins. Once again don't get too excited. The initial downhill is so steep that you will be working very hard just to stay on the trail. Keep your speed under control, one guy in our group was going to fast and road off into the bushes. Luckily, he was not hurt. I wish there was a more sustainable downhill section with some flow near the top, but for now it is very steep. There is a small creek crossing with a bridge as you start down that looks like it was just installed when we were there in 2018.
Notice the trees are conifers like you would see in Colorado. This high alpine setting is so different than anything you typically see in Moab.
Aspens in Moab? Yes, the Whole Enchilada rides through lovely aspen groves on the upper portion. You will also experience the whole enchilada of weather conditions on your ride. To complete the trail you must start at sunrise and even in August the temperature at the top was in the 40's. By the time we got back to town the temperature was over 95 degrees.
Why the big bag? Since the ride takes all day you will need some snacks to take with you or you will be famish by the time your reach the bottom. Also, the more food we ate, the more room we had to take off the cold weather gear we had on at the start. This ride truly will through everything at you even on the best of days.
We stopped for a lunch break near the end of the aspen trees. Once you get through them you will be into the pinon and juniper trees and there will not be much shade. Too bad you are in the shade when it is cold and in the sun when it is hot.
Keep in mind this is not a beginner's trail. If the bike shops don't think you look like an experienced cyclist, they will not rent you a bike or shuttle you to the top of the trail. As mentioned earlier, even though this is a downhill trail, there is lots of climbing involved.
Also, the upper portion of the trail doesn't open until July. Some years the trail doesn't open till mid-August due to snowpack.
The starting point for this trail is weather dependent. The earlier in the season you go, the lower you will have to start. This is not open to interpretation but is published by the National Forest Service. The best way to know is to call a local bike shop in Moab, they will be more than happy to assist you. For the sake of this article, the Upper Whole Enchilada is from Geyser Pass to La Sal Mountain Loop. Trail is always being added some this map could be out of day.
If you are considering a Moab bike adventure? If so, we would recommend checking out the vacation rental homes at Moab Adventure Condo. We stayed with them and it was so nice to have room to relax and not be stuck in a cramped hotel room. They also had large double garages so we could securely store our bikes at night. No more cramped hotel room with a bike taking up all our space. Most of their condos have bike repair stands and tools to keep your bike in working order while on your trip.