Jackson Hole Loop Trail takes you on a journey up Kane Creek Road, then onto the Hurrah Pass, down to Jackson Hole up the extremely brutal “Jacobs Ladder” onto Amasa Back. Although not an overly technical ride, the views are stunning.
Trail Stats & Information
Nearby City: Moab
Length: 23 total miles
Trail Type: Loop
Skill Level: Aerobic level: Strenuous. Technical difficulty: Easy to more difficult
Duration: 3-6 hours
Trailhead Elev: 3,980 feet
Top Elev: 4,780 feet
The Jackson Hole loop is a g.a.s.—gonzo, abusive, and sick—and comes with chest-pounding bragging rights. Whoever first biked this improbable connector between Hurrah Pass and Amasa Back is a few fries short of a Happy Meal, and whoever selected it as the long-standing course of the Tour of Canyonlands Mountain Bike Race is downright twisted. Hallmarking this otherwise highly scenic ride is the infamous Jackson’s Ladder, a 0.25-milelong, near-vertical portage—uphill mind you—carved into the side of a 400-foot cliff. You can’t ride up, that’s for sure, and with your bike dangling from your shoulder the scramble is dubious. Halfway up, you’ll shake your head in wonderment. John Jackson, on the other hand, forged the route and used it purposefully during the pioneer era to run horses to and from town and pastures on the Colorado River. The ride to and from the hike-a-bike is pure Moab. From the outset you click away the miles on the smooth-sailing Kane Springs Canyon Road to Hurrah Pass. Beyond the pass the route degrades to a rock- and sand-infested doubletrack, descends wildly, and winds through some of the most remote country bordering Moab. Then comes the portage. Ugh! The loop culminates with the thrilling descent off Amasa Back that is packed with countless ledgy slickrock stunts. Straggling back to the trailhead, you’ll concur that Jackson Hole is a g.a.s., but totally cool. Oh yeah, pro racers complete the loop in about 1 hour, 35 minutes. Tread: 8 miles of light duty dirt road; 13 miles of sand and rock doubletrack; 2 miles of broken slickrock doubletrack; and a .25 mile, 400 foot portage. Three creek crossings.
The trail starts on Kane Creek Road, and you ride the road for just under 10 miles, although it’s a scenic road, it can get very busy, and in the high season you will definitely choke on the dust. The rest of the trail is pretty straight forward, extreme caution is needed while heading down Hurrah Pass, that you do not miss the turn-off to Jackson Hole. It is a 100% downhill, and at the bottom the road branches off to the right, marked as “Adventure Headquarters” this is the trail you must take. If after the downhill you start to climb, you have gone too far, and will end up at “Chicken Corners” with a hell of a long ride back out.
As I said, the trail is pretty straight forward, that is, untill you reach Jacobs Ladder!!.. NOTHING I tell you, or the books say, will prepare you for this “Portage” it is absolutely mental, almost a 500 feet vertical rock face, that you will have to carry your bike ( and I mean carry ) Once at the top, if you make it that is, you have a fantastic ride down Amasa Back, back to your starting point.
Usually I never ride on a weekend, because I’m not too fond of crowds, but today ( Sunday) I was really in the mood to ride, so I purposely chose a trail that I thought would be quiet. Well, things did not quite turn out that way. The ride along Kane Creek, was not too bad, just a handful of 4×4’s, but halfway up Hurrah it got a bit busier with bikers, luckily they all turned around at the Pass. The section from Hurrah Pass to Jacobs ladder was great, just myself and a fellow mountain biker named Scott, we had the whole Jackson Hole and Jacobs Ladder to ourselves. Things changed again on Amasa Back, an absolute fantastic trail, but it was soooo busy!!. The Amasa Back is definitely not a trail you want to do on a weekend, that’s unless you love crowded trails.
All in all Jackson Hole Loop Trail is not a bad ride, and I am glad I have now now done it, it is an easy ride and extremely scenic. Saying this, it is not a ride that I would do again in the near future, and also not on a weekend.
Traffic on Trail : apart from Jackson Hole it was very busy, Amasa Back was just crazy!!
Wild Life : who needs wildlife on a ride like this!?
Scenery : Absolutely Fantastic 360 degree 3D Scenery
Other : Don’t miss the Jackson Hole Turn-off, Avoid Amasa Back on the weekend, unless you like crowds.
My Trail Rating : 8 / 10