Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Lower Monitor and Merrimac Mountain Biking Trail - Moab, Utah

I was looking for some beginner/intermediate trails for a weekend spent hiking and mountain biking in Moab.  I have seen friends come back bloodied and bruised after tackling some of Moab's famous and challenging trails like Whole Enchilada.  
I wanted the opposite of that.  

I wanted a pleasant first time/experience Mountain Biking in Moab.  To ensure that, I wanted a trail that didn't have any insane climbs or really challenging terrain. And of course, had to be dog friendly.  After some time spent on google, I came across the Lower Monitor and Merrimac loop just north of Moab.  And why the long name?  The trail is named for the two large buttes that the ride passes by which were named after US War Ships.   But don't worry, the trail signs are all shortened down to the M&M Trail.   

You will see a few awesome sites along the trail:  Courthouse Wash, Halfway Stage House, Monitor and Merrimack Buttes, Determination Towers, Mill Creek, and the Dinosaur Trail.'

If you don't bike, don't fret.  
This makes for an awesome hike as well. 

Getting Here:
The trailhead is about 15 miles north of Moab.  This is a great trail to do on your way into Moab, or on your way out.  Drive north on Highway 191 for approximately 15 miles then turn left onto a dirt road just north of highway marker 141.  It will be labeled Mill Creek Road.  You will immediately cross the tracks and follow a dirt road.  The dirt road will cross over a large wash.  While our car had no issues, other cars did.  Someone noted "There will be a wash which on 12/4/14 was full of sand and got me stuck. It cost $195 to get winched out and AAA would not pay because it was off the pavement".  Use caution on the condition of the wash.  Four wheel drive is always a good idea.  Follow signs to the trailhead with the bulletin board. 

The Trail:  
The trail itself was a mix of dirt road, a dirt trail, slick rock and well, deep sand.   The trail starts on the dirt road, which then leads to quick sand, slick rock, deep sand, a tough area along the creek, and back to a dirt road.  When the sand was deep and the trail steep, I walked my biked along the trail.  There was also a span along the river that I chose to walk my bike instead of tracking it through the creek.  It was a bummer having these sections that were virtually unrideable, but they were short sections and walking the bike was relatively easy.  

Besides that, it is easy riding on the dirt road and Sandstone.  Be warned, the sandstone is marked with white paint on the rock but in some areas can be really worn away.  Pay close attention to the white markings.  We had to stop a few times to look around for the trail markers again (they are sparse and faded). You will see signs labeled "M&M" along the trail, follow those.  There are a few tricky spots, especially in the beginning, so refer to the map and route directions below.   The trail ends along the Mill Creek Dinosaur trail, where you can park your bike and walk along the trail to see the fossils left behind. 

The ride is about 6-7 miles round trip (Ride the loop clockwise) with a climb of about 500', mostly on the sandstone.  Yes, the trail is on BLM land and is dog friendly.   
Route info from
Driving to the trailhead 
Trailhead (don't follow the trail shown- take the trail to the left of the sign)  
There were a TON of guys on dirt bikes here when we arrived, as well as a few different ATV's.  We didn't see any of them on the M&M trail, but they use the same trailhead.  They all took off on this road shown (not the M&M Trail). 

Snowcapped mountains in the distance.  Seen from the parking lot. 
Start of the Lower Monitor and Merrimac Trail 
Courthouse Rock (left) on the  Lower Monitor and Merrimac Trail 
 Lower Monitor and Merrimac Trail passing by Halfway Stage Station
Remains of the Halfway Stage Station on the trail. 
The Halfway Stage Station served as a stopping point for the public traveling between Moab and the railroad at Thompson.  In April of 1883, the first passenger train went through Thompson en route to Salt Lake .  The railroad was 35 miles from Moab (8 hour journey). This was a place to eat, rest, change horses, and spend the night.  
Following the M&M Trail just past the Halfway Stage Station
Finally biking on the Sandstone.  Views from the sandstone section of the trail
Taking a break (and looking for the next white markings) on the trail
Following the trail on sandstone with amazing views.
Bike near a large rock formation along the trail
Sandy areas along the M&M Trail
Determination Towers (popular rock climbing spot) in the distance 
Posing by the sign at the entrance to the tricky riding along the water.
Walking our bikes through the tricky sections following the creek on the Dino Trail. 
M&M Trail Signs 
Posing on the trail near the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail.  Determination Towers in the far background.

The trail ends by the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail, before meeting up with the dirt road that brings you back to the parking lot.  We stopped here for a few minutes to walk the Dinosaur Trail  Follow the trail to see real dinosaur bones int he rocks.  The trail is short, and has some educational signage to give you some background on which species and which bone you are looking at.  This is a great activity for kids and we saw a few families arrive on our way out.  You can find more information and a brochure here

Bones and signage along the trail. 
Dinosaur Bones


  1. I know I always say this, but I want to come visit!! When I head out there, I absolutely must try mountain biking. I'm a cyclist, but I've never been on a mountain bike and I've been absolutely dying to give it a try. These pictures are gorgeous!

    1. Utah is waiting for you! Spring is the best time before it gets too hot. You definitely should try mountain biking but let me warn you, its the kind of activity that you need to give it a FEW times to really enjoy it! The first few times are TOUGH but when you get it, its a blast and a whole new way to see the outdoors. Hope to see you out here soon!

  2. It is remarkable blog. I wanted to learn such type of the things that I have got from here at one platform. Thanks. read more etc

  3. That's great and fantastic stuffs for security purpose. It is fascinating for me and it is really a complete mongoose ledge


Let's Chat!