Slickrock Trail (Sand Flats Area)

Slickrock Trail (Sand Flats Area)

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.58188°N / 109.51927°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Hike
Sign the Climber's Log


This is a popular mountain biking trail. The scenery is spectacular and hikers are welcome.

Slickrock Trail follows a path over the petrified sand dunes to the east of Moab, Utah. The petrified sand dunes create a plateau that sits at an elevation of 4450-4800 ft, roughly 600 ft above Colorado River to the north. The trail is marked by a dashed line and is a non-stop series of ups and downs over the petrified dunes. For the loop described here, my GPS measured a total ascent of 3250 ft. The sign at the trailhead said 1600 ft. With few exceptions, the trail travels entirely over a hard slickrock surface so you better wear comfortable hiking boots. At the northern edge of the plateau, you will get great views of Colorado River at the bottom of its canyon where Route 128 runs. Along the way, you get glimpses of the town of Moab, parts of Arches National Park and other smaller canyons. The La Sal Mountains will always be in view as perfect backgrounds for the breathtaking scenery.

Don’t expect to find solitude here. You are likely to see large numbers of mountain bikers and even some people on motorcycles. Yield to the bikers. While Jeeps and ATVs are not allowed on Slickrock Trail, there are nearby four wheel drive roads that intersect or at times parallel the Trail.

Slickrock Trail Map
Slickrock Trail Map

Getting There

From the center of Moab at Main St. (Route 191) and Center Street turn east onto Center Street and go 4 blocks to East Fourth Street and turn south (right). Continue south and turn east onto East Mill Creek Drive. Go straight to a 3 way at a stop sign. Going straight will get you on Sand Flats Road. After 1.6 miles, you will reach the toll booth for Sand Flats Area. Continue another 0.7 miles until you see the big parking area on the left.

Route Description

Highest Point: 4820 ft
Lowest Point: 4450 ft
Length of lollipop loop described here: 10.4 miles
Elevation Gain: Sign at trailhead said 1600 ft, my GPS said 3250 ft !

Start following the white dashed line over the slickrock.

On Slickrock Trail

La Sal Mountains will be well visible.

La Sal Mountains, middle sectionLa Sal Mountains, middle section
La Sal Mountains, northern sectionLa Sal Mountains, northern section

La Sal Mountains, southern sectionLas Sal Mountains, southern section

After 0.3 miles, you will reach a 2 way. Left is a short cut that you can use on the way back to shorten your hike. Right takes you to the edge of Echo & Abyss Canyons. Take the right.
Echo Canyon.

Echo CanyonEcho Canyon

Continuing on the trail.

On Slickrock Trail
Petrified Sand Dunes

You will now get views of Abyss Canyon and soon reach the junction with the short cut.

Abyss Canyon
Abyss Canyon

The trail will take you around the southern edge of Abyss Canyon.

Abyss CanyonAbyss Canyon

After a steep uphill with potholes, you will reach another 2 way. This is the start of the loop. Bikers usually go clockwise (turn left). Hikers would be better off going counter clockwise (turn right) to see the oncoming bikers.

Before the start of the loopBefore the start of the loop

Turning right and continuing on the trail.

On Slickrock Trail
On Slickrock Trail

The formation known as Shrimp Rock will come to view.

Shrimp RockShrimp Rock

You will then reach the edge of Icebox Canyon where you will have a glimpse of Colorado River.

Colorado River from the edge of Icebox CanyonColorado River from the edge of Icebox Canyon

Constant ups and downs of the trail.

Biker on Slickrock Trail

The trail takes you around Shrimp Rock to the northern edge of the plateau where you will have more views of Colorado River.

Shrimp RockShrimp Rock
Colorado River and Route 128Colorado River

Following the trail along the northern end of the plateau.

On Slickrock Trail
On Slickrock Trail

Colorado River near Goose Island Campground.

Colorado River & Route 128Colorado River
Colorado River & Route 128Colorado River

Looking north into Arches National Park.

Zooming into Arches National ParkZooming into Arches National Park

The trail begins to go mostly uphill reaching its maximum elevation of 4820 ft.

On Slickrock Trail
On Slickrock Trail
On Slickrock Trail
On Slickrock Trail
On Slickrock Trail
On Slickrock Trail

A part of the town of Moab will come to view for a short time.

The town of Moab & Colorado River PortalThe town of Moab

Continuing on the trail. This bridge is private property and not part of the trail.

On Slickrock Trail
Private Property BridgePrivate property bridge, not part of the trail

Tired bikers.

Too steep for these bikers

Jeepers on the nearby 4 wheel drive road.

Where Slickrock Trail crosses a 4 wheel drive road4 wheel drive road

You will then reach the start of the loop and can retrace your way back to the parking area. Use the shortcut to shorten you hike by 0.9 miles.

Essential Gear

Good hiking boots.

Red Tape

You must pay entrance fee to get into Sand Flats Recreation Area. When I was there in 2015, the daily fee was $5 collected at the booth on Sand Flats Road.

External Links

Book: Hiking from here to Wow, Utah Canyon Country by Kathy & Craig Copeland
Map: Latitude 40 Maps, Classic Moab Trails



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