Cliffhanger, Moab Utah

Directions to Cliffhanger Trail, Moab UT: Take Kane Creek Road (from the McDonald’s on the corner) approximately ½ mile to the yield sign. Veer left and continue on Kane Creek Road about 5.3 miles to the trailhead on the right. You will need to travel about 100 yards off the road before you find an open area. You can do this in 2WD or stop at the top to lock in and go down to the open area to air down.

So you want to get out and about in Moab, but you’d rather not spend all day doing just one trail. You also want somewhat of a challenge, but nothing death-defying. Don’t be afraid to take on the

Cliffhanger. Even though it’s appropriately named, the most dangerous part on this trail is the large obstacle to negotiate on the downhill slope on a pretty narrow section of a long shelf.

moab4021.jpg (16564 bytes)This trail starts out downhill, so you’ll want to air down before beginning. At the bottom, you cross none other than Kane Creek. The creek is normally not tough to cross, except for when it rains. And baby, when it rains, it pours! This is evident when Kane Creek occasionally floods, and adds a small possibility of quicksand to it. Not to worry, though, this is the easy part. After the creek, you’ll come face to face with a steep, rocky climb. At the top is a photo opportunity of Jackson Hole.

moab4023.jpg (16748 bytes)The trail then heads north, and the infamous shelf road begins. Thank goodness there is land to stop you if you go over, but the bad news is it’s almost 800 feet down! Don’t be ashamed to use a spotter on moab4024.jpg (20008 bytes)the shelf, since parts of it can get pretty tricky. There is a large boulder on this run that proves to be the most dangerous part, so take it easy and be smart about it. Screw up here, and away you go.

moab4027.jpg - 25202 BytesAfter the shelf, go west young man (or woman), and cross an easy plateau. After this, turn right, and take on the huge ledge onto an area of slickrock. The good part is smooth slickrock the rest of the way. The bad part is that you will lose sight of the trail. Just keep moab4025.jpg (11817 bytes)heading to the southwest, shooting for the notch at the top. This is where the trail ends, and you get another beautiful view. Then it’s time to pull a 180 and go back. Remember, going back down the shelf, whoever is going uphill has the right of way.

Although this trail is not recommended for beginners, it does not require expertmoab4026.jpg (24326 bytes) experience. Just common sense, a bit of practice, and a spotter. Along with some spectacular views, Cliffhanger can be done round trip in less than three hours, so it’s great for a morning or lunch run.