Riding the Enchilada

Getting Started

With the riding season coming to a close, I knew that getting good rides in before the weather changed would be tricky. That’s why I planned a trip to Moab, Utah with Cheston to ride The Whole Enchilada. I had no idea just how close to the end of the season we would be cutting it!

The Whole Enchilada is one of America’s truly epic rides. Consisting of almost 30 miles of uninterrupted dirt, it takes riders on a rollercoaster of varying terrains, difficulties, and biomes. This isn’t a ride for the faint of heart. It is almost entirely made up of extremely technical black diamond trails, with one little blue segment in the middle. It is a truly epic adventure that tests your skills and your endurance. It’s also a whole lot of fun.

We got up early and dropped my truck off at the bottom of the trail so that we wouldn’t need to endure the 6 mile trek back into town after the ride. If you ever get the chance to enjoy The Whole Enchilada, it pays to take the extra time and effort to do this. 

Riders get dropped off at Burro Pass in a dirt pull-out that sits at over 10,500 feet above sea level (3200 meters). We were lucky to get a ride up to the trailhead along the long and winding Geyser Pass Road from Bobby, a guide buddy of Chet’s. He made the entire day work for us! Once at the top, everyone geared up and hit the trail. 

Hitting the Trail

The first section of the ride may very well be the toughest. After hitting the dirt, pedalers enjoy some minor climbs while adjusting to the elevation. After a left turn on the Burro Pass trail, the real pain begins.

Riding past Mount Tomasaki and Manns Peak, both well over 12,000 feet, the ascent ends at the 11.200 foot Burro Pass. Most of the riders hiked their bikes to the top of this pass and gasped for air the whole way up. 

The top of the ridge on the brutal Burro Pass climb.

We dropped down the lower section of Burro Pass along Mill Creek. This was a rocky and rooty trail that had some tight turns, steep drops, and soft dirt. We crossed the creek…

…and headed towards Warner Campground where we regrouped and started the ride towards the Kokopelli trail.

Kokopelli has the coolest name of all the Whole Enchilada segments, but it’s easily the simplest part to ride. It’s just a fire road that connects Burro PassTrail to the next section called Upper Porcupine Singletrack. UPS, as it’s known to riders, opens up the view and reveals wide open views of Castle Valley, Round Mountain, Castleton Tower, and the Colorado River beyond. These views accompany you on the next 10 miles of trail. 

Castle Valley on a fun and windy day.

At this point, the wind was really starting to blow. Gusts of 35 miles per hour were forecasted, and that made any air time tricky. You don’t want to be blown sideways while on a jump and miss your landing! 

Oh, I need to mention the Snotch! This is a little section of trail that carries riders from UPS to the next segment of the ride. It is a double-black diamond segment and, like me, most people walk its steep slides and bouldery drops. Those who attempt it occasionally succeed, and some fail.

Don’t worry, he was fine and actually got back up and tried again (and failed)!

Since there is an Upper Porcupine Singletrack, there must be a Lower Porcupine Singletrack! LPS is another swoopy and technical trail that navigates the wide rocks and presents the rider with bouldery drops and chunky climbs that test endurance and improve skill. 

The Porcupine Rim trail starts at the 15 mile mark is the longest part of The Whole Enchilada. It is over 11 miles long and it carries riders all the way down to the Colorado River, where the trail ends and riders contemplate recovery. We were far from finished with our day as we sped along the rocky paths, choosing lines and absolutely loving the pops and drops that unfolded before us. 

The last few miles of the trail contained a few challenging rock rolls and obstacles. If we are getting schooled by The Whole Enchilada, then this is the final exam!

In Closing…

The Whole Enchilada isn’t just a trail – it’s an experience. Chet and I enjoyed a dry and windy 5 ½ hours on the mountain that challenged our abilities and left us in need of some food and hydration. We rode hard. 

It’s important to realize just how lucky we were to be able to do this. We enjoyed the wide variety of environments that exist along the trail’s 8000 vertical feet. We climbed steep hills, rode forests, enjoyed amazing views, walked over some pretty tough obstacles, and met some awesome and interesting people along the way. 

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