Located in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, the White Rim Trail is a spectacular 103-mile mountain biking adventure along a sandstone ridge that winds through some of Utahs most spectacular canyon country.
Last fall during our running trip in the Grand Canyon, I mentioned to my friend Connie Wian that I would love to ride the White Rim. Because I am not a mountain biker, I asked her if I could manage it. Later that month she put in for a permit and found out in May that she was awarded a four-day trip for Sept. 9-12.
The planning began, and Connie started spreading the word among her biking friends.
Getting people to commit to the dates was the most challenging aspect of the trip, said Wian, who skillfully planned and executed every detail.
As spring turned to summer, I decided to get a mountain bike and start practicing. Once again, Connie stepped up and offered to give me some lessons.
She assured me that aside from a few difficult climbs and descents, the White Rim Trail is very rideable for a beginning mountain biker.
As it turned out, I was able to ride about 95 percent of the terrain only opting out on the steepest descents and climbs, which I hiked or ran with my bike in tow.
The scenery is breathtaking with cliffs, arches, towers and interesting rock formations everywhere. Each of the four days, we covered between 20-30 miles on the bikes and had plenty of time at camp to add some trail running, hiking and even a swim in the Colorado River.
Nights were spectacular. We were there during a new moon, and the stars and planets made you feel like you were in a giant private observatory.
Joel Bratsch of Durango, who was on his fourth White Rim trip, said the evenings are his favorite times. The best part is being with this great group of people and celebrating. But I gotta say the scenery is pretty killer, Bratsch said.
Gibby Siemion of Flagstaff, Ariz., was experiencing the White Rim for the first time. A Grand Canyon river guide who leads expeditions on the Colorado River, Siemion has seen her share of beautiful scenery over the years.
I think that its rare that you get such a wonderful group of humans to share in an expedition together, Siemion said.
I think this spot at Murphys is my favorite with such a beautiful view of the layers weve been traveling through as well as the La Sal Mountains. This is a highlight spot for me.
Beth McMacken of Durango also rode White Rim for the first time. She contemplated applying for a permit to do it again.
An experienced mountain biker of almost 20 years, McMacken loves the really fast steep downhills.
Justin Salamon also rode White Rim for the first time.
Running down the Lathrop Trail to the river, swimming and running back up was a big highlight for me, Salamon said. The whole trip has been amazing.
Four days to ride 100 miles was challenging but very manageable for this fit group of athletes. It even allowed for enough time and energy to hike some steep trails that offered panoramic views and also some opportunities to run, which definitely appealed to me and the other runners in the group.
Stay tuned for our next adventure, and if you havent already done this, add the White Rim to your bucket list.
Reach Marjorie Brinton at firstname.lastname@example.org