There are not many spots left in Northern America so utterly isolated and removed from civilization than the rugged deserts of Utah. The southwestern states are well known for enormous areas of land still as wild as the cowboys that once called this area home. Hikers and bikepackers are drawn to the desolate Canyonlands of Utah for this serene scenery, as well as for some of the most challenging and exciting multi-day tours out there. One such trail, the Maze, shines bright, alluring thrill seekers and the wild at heart. Learn what makes this ride stand out from others, and get excited to plan your future epic adventure in the maze.
This ride starts near the Hans Flat Ranger Station, which is the most remote National Park station in the contiguous states (hard to beat Alaska when it comes to “remote”). The trailhead is where the rocky road turns wickedly rough and all but impassible to anyone not on foot, bike, or serious 4×4 vehicle. It is not long before the action gets going, as you drop almost 800 feet in about a mile of travel. The steep, match speed, descent is a set of perilous switchbacks called Flint’s trail. The serpentine downhill eventually dumps you lower into a canyon-esque floor of red rock. The terrain from here is mostly doubletrack, a mixture of small descents and ascents, ending with a climb back up the elevation you began the ride from. The scenery is your reward for doing this difficult ride, and you are treated with views of hoodoos, mesas, and spires, all of which are seen only by like minded intrepid explorers.
The Maze is undeniably beautiful and serene, but it can also be dangerous. Even in spring and fall the temperatures can fluctuate quite a bit from day to night, and almost all of the ride is exposed and the sun takes its toll on riders. Even more challenging is the lack of services and supplies. Along the entire trail there is only one potential spot to replenish water, but water in the desert is never a given, so plan accordingly. To compound it all, the trail is sometimes difficult to follow, and navigation is another challenge to overcome. While it is possible to try your luck on this unforgiving ride by yourself, it is best to go with a group. Better still, book a trip with a tour group, which relieves you of worrying about water, food, and navigation. Many tour companies such as Escape Adventures will plan out meals and resupply checkpoints for you, letting you enjoy the trail without the hassles of preparation and packing. For first time Maze riders, it is highly recommended to go with a group that knows the trails inside out. While the Maze is not a literal labyrinth, it can be demanding and dangerous. With proper preparations and planning, you can safely enjoy the rewarding views and feelings it has to offer.