Before buying the bus and committing to rove the USA in search of adventure full time, Will and I spent a year exploring the limits of our remote working setup. We own and operate Camp Four Creative, a partnership focused on designing and building software-as-a-service products for small startups. Our clients are based all over the country (Silicon Valley, Austin, TX, Washington DC, Los Angeles…) and we do all of our communications digitally, so our physical locations don’t matter much as long as we have internet.
Twice last year we took small work-cations in Moab, UT. We love Moab because it’s an incredibly friendly city with some seriously great mountain biking.
Our perspective: Will is an advanced, technical rider who is comfortable on all terrain and likes to go fast and challenge himself. I’m an intermediate rider, comfortable on most terrain but walking stuff that is very technical or exposed. I don’t go very fast, and fall a lot! I’ll rate these trails in terms of difficulty for Will and I separately.
Poison Spider – The Poison Spider is the best bike shop in town. Not only do they rent, sell, and repair bikes and other mtb-related gear, but they have a ton of knowledge about the surrounding areas and can recommend some great rides for whatever level you’re biking at.
Moab Brand Trails – The Bar M is the first area we biked, and while I think it was a great “intro to Moab” spot, it definitely wasn’t our favorite. On one hand, it has a ton of trails, all easily accessible from the parking lot, for all levels. It’s great if you’re either just starting out on a mountain bike or are new to Moab, because you can get a feel for all sorts of new terrain (like slickrock!!)
On the other hand, if you’re looking for some harder trails, it kind of sucks. For whatever reason the group in charge of building the Bar M treated the trail system like an intestine. Instead of building a few trails that jived really well with the surrounding landscape they packed in as many as they possibly could, twisting and turning them back on themselves to fit in the space. That means that there isn’t a whole lot of “flow” on the harder stuff– the trail jerks up and down in weird spots so you can’t ever get comfortable. Don’t get me wrong. The Bar M is awesome for your first ride in Moab, but if you’re looking for a longer ride you might want to look elsewhere.
Magnificent 7 – Mag 7 is a larger trail network comprised of several shorter trails that you can link as you wish. We rode a 20 mile section: from the main parking lot, down Bull Run to The Great Escape, the back up Arth’s and Getaway.
The first half / downhill leg of our route trails you down the edge of a big canyon with gorgeous views and really great terrain.
The second half / uphill leg of the ride loops around and brings you back up to the parking lot. Though trending uphill, this part of the ride was just as enjoyable as the downhill section. You get to see some different desert canyon and several meadow areas on the Getaway trail.
Apparently some people shuttle the trail (getting picked up at the bottom before heading back up) but we found the grade in both directions very doable and actually really enjoyed the total length. The whole thing took our group of 4 +1 cattle dog about four hours to complete.
I found the entirety of Mag 7 very rideable except for a few exposed spots (heights freak me out when I’m on a bike!) and a limited number of super technical uphills. In fact, there were a few times during the ride that I commented on just how enjoyable the uphill was – a surprising comment from me! The ride was definitely challenging but very, very rideable for someone of my intermediate level. Will was able to ride the the whole trail without problems, but was still able to find challenges for himself on more technical features and by pushing his speed. Mag 7 was the perfect ride for our unbalanced skills: neither too hard for me nor to easy for him.
One thing to note is that there is quite a bit of riding on bumpy, potholed slickrock throughout the course of this route. It isn’t bad, but we were both very happy to have full suspension bikes because it can get tiring.
Captain Ahab – I didn’t ride this trail because it was harder and more exposed than anything I had ridden before, and the day was quite windy so I wasn’t really willing to test my limits. The following review is from Will:
One of the trail systems on my list for our second trip to Moab was Amasa Back, Hymasa, and Captain Ahab. On our first trip out I made some poor trail choices and left with a sense of dissatisfaction. Luckily, I finally had my “aha” moment once I got on these trails, and Moab really clicked for me.
Starting out with the initial climb, I didn’t know if I wanted to charge up Amasa Back or the Hymasa trail. Amasa Back is the more traditional route up a super techy 4×4 road while Hymasa is a much newer trail designed specifically with mountain bikes in mind. I asked around at the trailhead a bit and settled on keeping it classic by trying my hand at Amasa Back. I was not dissapointed. In most cases, “4×4 road” is synonymous with long, slow, boring climb. Not the case here at all. It’s amazing that vehicles can even make it up this trail as it is composed of miles of steep, tall rock ledges that are a real challenge pick your way up. The whole climb felt like one long bouldering problem.
Once at the top of the Amasa Back trail, I split off onto Captain Ahab. After another short climb and some absolutely stunning canyon views, the real fun began. According to the trail description, Captain Ahab was not only designed for bikers, but specifically downhill bikers looking for a more challenging, adrenaline infused decent. That’s what I came out for and that’s exactly what I got. After hammering my way through the steep drops and fun, short climbs of the upper trail section, I absolutely had to circle back for more. I ended up catching the Hymasa trail and climbing back to the top of Captain Ahab to ride the whole trail through to the bottom. What a blast!
I would absolutely recommend this trail to any seasoned riders looking for the true Moab experience. I know I’ll be back soon!
We have stayed at the same BLM (Bureau of Land Management) campground, Hunter Canyon, on both of our visits to Moab. We tend to choose BLM land rather than private campgrounds for a few reasons: first, they’re generally cheaper (and sometimes are free!) Second, we’re more likely to find “our people” there. When I say “our people” I mean potential friends we’d be excited to share a campfire with – generally scrappy, adventurous individuals who enjoy the outdoors and have interesting stories to tell. In fact, shared campfires are another reason that we love BLM sites: for whatever reason, they seem much more community-friendly than traditional campgrounds.
Hunter Canyon is a group of sites along Cane Creek Road, just out of Moab. (Cane Creek actually has a lot of camping options, detailed here!) We like Hunter Canyon because it’s a bit further back from the main road, meaning it’s usually less crowded than the other campgrounds on the way in. Nestled alongside a creek between two soaring desert canyon walls, Hunter gives you the true feeling of Moab. $10 site fee, pit toilet and trash disposal available.
Work-cationing anywhere means getting familiar with the free local wifi. If you’re new to work-cationing or coffee shop working, there are a few etiquette rules that you should follow to keep us all in good standing. First, don’t set up shop in a busy place. If there are people waiting for tables you should stay no longer than it takes to eat your breakfast. Second, if business is slow enough that you feel comfortable hanging out for a few hours, make sure to support the business you’re using as your mobile office. For us, that usually means starting with two cups of coffee and a food item, and making sure to pay for a drink refresh every 1-2 hours. Finally, it is polite to check with the staff to make sure they don’t mind you camping out. I usually say something like “is it ok if we hang out to check emails for a while?” It’s nice to let the staff know you’re considerate of their space, and we’ve never been turned down. With those rules in mind, our favorite places for working in Moab:
Eklecticafe – This place is just short of perfect. First, their food is amazing. Second, they have free wifi that is pretty fast. Third, they have an expansive, covered, dog friendly patio; and fourth, they didn’t mind us hanging out for a few hours. The only thing that would make Eclecticafe the ultimate work-cation spot would be a few outlets on the patio… but really, it doesn’t get much better than this!
Sweet Cravings Bakery & Bistro – Right across the street from Eclecticafe, Sweet Cravings is new to the Moab food scene and hasn’t quite caught on yet. I’m not sure why; we had a breakfast panini that was melt-in-your-mouth good and the staff is incredibly kind. Sweet Cravings belongs on the work-cation list because they have great wifi, plenty of room to spread out, and lots of outlets all around. No patio here, but they have plenty of parking right outside and didn’t mind us chilling for a few hours, laptops and power cords in tow.
Peach Tree Juice Cafe – I’ve hung out at the Peach Tree a few times while Will got some extra last minute biking in. Their food isn’t as good as Eclecticafe or Sweet Cravings (though the Margs are delicious!) but they have a nice covered patio that allows dogs. In the winter they screen the patio in completely and add heaters, so it’s a perfect spot to hang out if you can’t leave fido in the car. Their wifi is pretty good and they might have plugs. A perfect spot for windy or cold days!
Have questions about Moab, or tips of your own? Add them in the comments!