Mountain bikers rejoice: Sand Flats Recreation Area, home to the popular trails Eagle Eye and Falcon Flow, will soon be home to a new trail. “Hawk’s Glide,” rated intermediate, will add another segment to the Raptor Route by connecting the two existing trails. You can help build it, too: Moab Trail Mix is looking for volunteers every Wednesday and Thursday from now until October 27.
“One of the challenges we have in the area is, because of the landscape and private property, finding areas where we can build beginner or moderate trails that are close to home—the closest trail we have to town is Pipe Dream, but that’s not a beginner-friendly trail,” said Maddie Logowitz, manager of Grand County Active Transportation and Trails. Pipe Dream, which can be accessed from the Hidden Valley Trailhead, is rated difficult on the website Mountain Bike Project.
When Falcon Flow, rated intermediate, was constructed, it became immediately popular with locals, Logowitz said—the trail isn’t too far from town, and locals could hop on it as an after-work ride.
“I think having another trail that’s relatively close to town that’s moderate will encourage more community rides,” she said. “It’s just a more accessible trail for more people.”
The push to build Hawk’s Glide started years ago. Hawk’s Glide will be built on Bureau of Land Management land, meaning the county trail department and the Grand County Trail Mix Committee had to work within the parameters of the BLM’s current resource management plan: the land itself went through numerous evaluations looking for archaeological sites and sensitive wildlife and plants. Once the BLM’s evaluations were complete, the trail also went through a National Environmental Policy Act evaluation.
The evaluations found that the trail was good to go, but during the NEPA process, specialists found that the trail is on the path of a mule deer migration area and potential raptor nesting habitat. Neither of those things means the trail would be completely denied, but it does mean that the trails department has a very short timeframe to construct the trail: it has to be finished by Nov. 15; otherwise, the department has to wait until the spring to resume construction.
Volunteers will help the trail get built on time, and volunteer hours can count toward the necessary local match needed to secure grant funding. Logowitz said in the past, volunteers have turned out in droves to construct biking trails in Sand Flats.
The Raptor Route will eventually have four segments. The last piece, Kestrel Run, which would connect Falcon Flow with Campground F in the Sand Flats Recreation Area, is currently undergoing BLM evaluation. While the completed Raptor Route will provide close-to-town, moderate trails, its other purpose is to create an alternative route to the ending of the Whole Enchilada, a difficult, 34-mile ride that sees around 24,000 riders per year.
“The last section of [the Whole Enchilada] is arguably the most technical,” Logowitz said. “It’s a bit of a hotspot for search and rescue.”
To avoid the last section, called Porcupine Rim, riders could take Sand Flats Road back into town. But the road doesn’t provide much of a satisfying finish, especially for advanced riders who travel to Moab specifically to do the Whole Enchilada trail. The Raptor Route would be “a single track route that’s equally attractive, fun, scenic, but it’s more moderate and has more exit points—if someone decides they need to, they can easily exit to Sand Flats Road,” Logowitz said. Porcupine Rim has no such exit points.
You can sign up to volunteer at www.grandcountyutah.net/980/volunteer. Volunteer days are on Wednesdays and Thursdays starting at 9 a.m. at the Porcupine Rim Trailhead on Sand Flats Road.
“This trail seems to have gotten a lot of support in the community, and we’re really excited and hopeful that we’ll get a lot of volunteer turnout to get the trail completed before our deadline,” Logowitz said.