Monitor and Merrimac from Big Mesa trail head
There were only a couple other cars in the lot when we got there and got on the trails at 9 a.m. and we ended up only seeing nine other MTBers while we were out there. That was fortunate because within the first quarter mile, I was already hike-a-biking. The trail descriptions we read suggested doing the western loop - Big Mesa/Big Lonely/Coney Island/Middle Earth - for intermediate riders; these trails were definitely more technical than we usually ride. I ended up walking a lot and even H was off his bike more than he usually is due to some high and narrow bridges, steep slickrock climbs and drop-offs. One thing for sure: these are trails with consequences.
Not so much with the consequences here but still focused
Despite the technical challenges, we had a great time. The views were spectacular and the trails, when not terrifying, were in good shape, a mix of slickrock, sand and dirt. The loop we did was 10.31 miles, which took us 1 hour and 48 minutes of riding plus 40 stoppage minutes, with an average speed of 5.7 m.p.h. (!!) and a maximum speed of 14.6 m.p.h., which must have been on short section of Coney Island that was easy double-track.
Looking out towards Lone Mesa
After our ride, we hung out in the parking lot for quite a while, consuming our sandwiches and beers and chatting with people. Several more vehicles had shown up while we were out there but the numbers were still way less than the weekend crowds. Before our legs stiffened up entirely, we decided we should walk at least a little and settled on the rim trails at Dead Horse Point State Park. Amazingly, we had never done this four mile loop that, as the name suggests, goes all the way around the point, right at the cliff's edge. We went outbound from the visitors' center on the East Rim trail, paused to watch some aerobatic ravens at land's end, then returned via the West Rim trail. It was easy walking with spectacular views - highly recommended even for non-hikers.
View from the East Rim
Neither of us was all that hungry when dinner time rolled around but we did manage to get over to Zax on Main Street for a couple of beers and some pizza. Things were pretty quiet at the motel when we got back - the off season was clearly descending on Moab.
View from the West Rim