Exploring Manti-La Sal National Forest

Exploring Manti-La Sal National Forest

Manti-La Sal National Forest is a massive, sprawling forest that covers large areas of central and southeastern Utah and even part of western Colorado. It includes five ranger districts: Price, Ephraim, Ferron, Monticello, and Moab. Overall, Manti-La Sal National Forest covers over 1.2 million acres. And, within this vast forest, you can enjoy any number of activities. In this article, we'll take a look at a few specific activities found near the Moab district. Keep in mind that we're only scratching the surface of everything Manti-La Sal National Forest has to offer.

Drive the La Sal Mountain Loop

The La Sal Mountain Loop (La Sal Mountain Loop State Scenic Backway) runs 60 miles through some of the La Sal Mountains' most beautiful areas. It begins on U. S. Route 191, about six miles south of Moab, winds through the mountains toward Castle Valley, and follows the Colorado River along Utah SR 128 back to Moab. All in all, the trip will take 2-3 hours.

While you can take this trip by passenger car, don't try it in an RV. The road is very narrow in some places, with tight switchbacks. Also, no services are available on the loop, so plan accordingly.

La Sal Mountain Loop has a number of attractions you won't want to miss. Oowah Lake is one of them. It's a short detour off the main road. It's a quiet, relaxing stop and a great place for a picnic. Another attraction is Castle Valley, with it's red rock mess, towers, and buttes. And don't forget you'll be driving beside the Colorado River for a long stretch, with plenty of opportunities to get great photographs.

Take a Hike

Manti-La Sal National Forest is filled with numerous hiking trails. Three of the best trails in the Moab district are Clark Lake Loop Trail, Burro Pass Trail, and Warner to Oowah Trail.

Clark Lake Loop Trail is a moderately difficult 2.8 mile loop that features amazing views of Clark Lake and the La Sal Mountains. Elevation gain is 708 feet, and the initial part of the trails is steep.

Burro Pass Trail is a difficult loop, covering almost 13 miles. The trail features open meadow and tall forests. Elevation gain is 3.674 feet.

The Warner to Oowah Trail is technically a short hike (around a quarter mile) that runs from Warner Lake to Oowah Lake. However, it can cover close to 3.6 miles if you include hiking through each lake's campground. It features aspen groves and views of the two lakes. Make sure to set aside time to explore both lakes. Oowah Lake is a 2.9-acre lake with a small campground. Warner Lake is even smaller, at 1.7 acres, but it's an excellent location for wildlife viewing.

Note that, on this hike, you can take a short detour along the way and enjoy fantastic views of Canyonlands. 

Mountain Bike he Whole Enchilada Trail

The trail starts high in the La Sal Mountains at the Burro Pass Trailhead, runs along the Kokopelli Trail, and ends down at the Colorado River off the Porcupine Rim Bike Trail. The entire trail is 26.5 miles long and descends over 7,000 feet.

During the ride, you travel along Burro Pass Trail, Hazard County Trail, and Porcupine Rim Trail. The trail winds through dense forests, colorful aspen groves, wide-open prairie land, and steep countryside.

If you're going to ride the entire Whole Enchilada Trail, set aside a few hours, plan to make a number of stops just to enjoy the fantastic scenery. Note that there are no fees associated with using this trail.

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