Mountain Bike Bill, Get the Dirt on the Dirt

Fisher Mesa, Moab Utah

Day Five of the 2008 Utah-Colorado Roadtrip

Fisher Mesa

Oh my, I was a little slow getting out of the tent on this morning. My legs were definitely feeling the miles. The second ride the day before at Bartlett Wash really added some extra seasonings to the slow cooking I have been giving my legs over the last four days. After making some coffee we leisurely broke down camp. The rain and wind from a couple of days ago created a fine layer Moab red sand "stucco" on all the gear outside. Luckily everything had dried out and with a few hearty taps, the stuff just fell off. For the last two days we had the entire campground to ourselves. Even with being here mid-week, I did not expect this in Moab.

Once we were all packed, we headed into town for some breakfast. At this point we had not fully decided on what our ride was going to be for the day. Over the course of breakfast, we decided that today should be somewhat of a light ride and something maybe not considered marquee or a beaten path. We ultimately decided on Fisher Mesa a good ways off to the east of Moab.

Fisher MesaFisher MesaAfter breakfast we swung by a swing by the Poison Spider Bike Shop to take care of a few things. First we wanted to thank them for the post-rain advice for Poison Spider Mesa as we both agreed we hit that ride at near-ideal conditions. Bill also needed to change out his broken spoke from the day before. The shop has a covered DIY area outside with a couple of stands which makes things much easier to take care of than trying to do the repair in camp. While Bill was doing that I took the opportunity use their hot showers. It costs a few bucks, but it was well worth it as the bird bathing was no longer cutting it. For those of you thinking about a quite dip in the Colorado remember, at this time of the year that river was mostly snow a couple days ago and it feels like it. After we took care of things there, we headed out of town to checkout the singletrack on Fisher Mesa. Fisher Mesa is two mesas east of Porcupine Rim, with Adobe Mesa in between the two. The drive out to Fisher Mesa was a really scenic drive on its own.



  • Head north out of town and when you get to the Colorado River, turn right onto highway 128. Take this scenic byway for 15 miles, then turn right onto Castle Valley Road. This is another really pretty drive up through Castle Valley. After 10.5 miles you will come the La Sal Mountain Loop Road. Take note of your odometer here. Turn slightly left and 5.4 miles later, you will see a dirt road on your left with a dirt parking area on your right. Park Here.
  • Option: I have not done this, but I later found out that you can also drive about half a mile further up the road to a gravel pull-out on the left and catch and additional half mile or so singletrack at top. We came across the singletrack where it ties into this ride. I'll describe below.

Ride Notes:
Fisher MesaFisher Mesa Do ever like to eat your desert first? If you do then this is cherry cheesecake followed by juicy steak with a reasonable portion size. This is not a big ride, but the scenic value and relatively untrammeled feel of this trail is worth the drive. There are options to make this a bigger ride, but it was just the right size for us as a not-quite a rest day ride.

Fisher MesaFisher MesaFrom the trailhead at around 8,300 feet of elevation, you will travel down a dirt road where you will quickly come to intersection where you will see a pit toilet off to the left and uphill a bit. Don't go up that way unless, well, you gotta go. The upper extra singletrack I mentioned in the directions section comes out right here. Instead stay on the main dirt road that goes slightly off to the left and downhill. Real soon the road make a right hand turn and descends off of Andy Mesa (where the trailhead is located) down to the upper end of Fisher Mesa. There were a few patches of snow in the shade when we first got started but by the time we got off of Andy Mesa they were all gone.
Fisher MesaFisher MesaJust as you come off Andy Mesa the road switchbacks to the left at 0.5 miles. The Fisher Mesa singletrack goes off to the right. It is labeled well with a small kiosk and a sign in box. Once on the singletrack, the trail wastes no time in get out onto the rim. Looking down into Fisher Valley is exceptionally easy on the eyes. The trail is absolutely delicious in the way it twists and turns through the trees, out onto rim and over bits of rocks. It is simply wonderful. There are some undulations in the trail, but for the most part it is gradual downhill affair.
Fisher MesaFisher MesaThis is, for the most part, real singletrack, as in narrow and not blown out. However there are a couple of spots where riders have forgotten the basic mantra of singletrack. Keep singletrack single. There is some trail widening occurring in the few more technical sections of the trail where it is obvious lesser skilled rides are going around some rather small rocks. If you can't ride this stuff please dismount and walk the singletrack. This trail is a real gem and it deserves to be treated as such.
Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa
The scenery from along the rim just kept getting better as Fisher Towers across the valley came into view. The singletrack is only 3.4 miles long but it certainly seems longer. You will most certainly be stopping a plenty to enjoy the eye-candy. The singletrack ends when it pops back out onto the doubletrack that continues on out to the very end of the mesa.
Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa
It is well worth it to hang a right onto the doubletrack and climb up a small rise that you can see ahead. In 0.2 miles you will get on top of the rise and you will see an obvious viewpoint off to your right on the rim. The road turns off to the left. This viewpoint is pretty darn breathtaking and is a fine spot to chill and have a snack. The elevation here was 7,380 feet.
Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa
Fisher MesaFisher MesaFrom this point all the way out to the end of the mesa is wide open due to a wildfire a few years ago. There are plans to eventually extent this singletrack all the way around the mesa which would be a truly incredible ride. You can ride the double track an additional 4.9 miles out to the very end of the mesa where I expect the views from there would be impressive as well. Remember the further out on the mesa you go, the longer your climb back will be. For us, we were pretty content to chill here and then take the singletrack back the way we came. I had been told that the taking the doubletrack back was much harder than taking the singletrack and nowhere near as scenic. It was not a hard choice to make. We took the singletrack back.
Fisher MesaFisher MesaNow it was time to eat our meat and vegetables. We were 1,000 feet lower than the trailhead and there were a few undulations over the next four miles backup to the trailhead. The climb back ended up not being too bad on our trip-tired legs. Once again the views were absolutely great and we were not in any particular hurry.
Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa Fisher Mesa

Once back at the trailhead, we continued our post-ride tradition of taking a core sample of the ice-chest. All was well. We had also brought some deli sandwiches before leaving town this morning so we had some trailhead dinner before getting on the road. Our next stop was Kevin Foote's house in Grand Junction, Colorado.

We took our time and stilled made to Kevin's house in plenty of time watch the sunset behind the mesas and canyons of the Colorado National Monument from his front yard. As good house guest should, we brought along some of our tastiest Southern California brews that are really hard to impossible to find in Colorado. We spent a darn good chunk of the evening catching up on things and sampling the goods. While I do enjoy camping, it felt heavenly to crash in a real bed tonight. We had not talked about what was on the ride agenda for tomorrow, but if Kevin is making the picks, we knew we were going to really like it.


Video of the Ride, 87MB
Onto to Day Six – The morning ride at the Lunch Loops.