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Reviews > Books > Trail Guides > Moab Classic Hikes > Owner Review by Katie Stull

Moab Classic Hikes

Owner Review by Katie Rompala
11 January 2009

Reviewer Information
Name: Katie Rompala
Age: 27
Gender: F
Height: 5'11" (1.8 m)
Weight: 145 lbs (66 kg)
Email address: krstull [at] gmail [dot] com
Location: Dillon, Montana

Backpacking Background
My parents carried me up the trails before I could walk, so I was hiking at an early age. My experiences now consist mainly of car-camping and medium to long hikes in the Utah redrock, and hikes and snowshoes in various mountainous areas of the West. Southwest Montana is my base for quick weekend trips in the area, while vacation time during the year is used for several extended (~10-day) trips to west-coast national parks and other wilderness spots. I hope to plan more backcountry excursions in the future.

Product Information
Description as given on product site:
"This guide to hikes in the Moab area concentrates on local favorites and "classic" routes. With forty full color shaded relief/topographic maps accompanied by photographs and detailed descriptions of the forty routes, author Damian Fagan guides you with information on what makes each route unique. With routes from long treks to short walks, his tips on how to enjoy your hike and information about the special features and species along the way will enrichen your explorations of the public land areas around Moab."

Book Cover

Paperback Hiking Guide - Moab Classic Hikes
Author: Damian Fagan
131 pages, MSRP $12.99 USD
ISBN 760-626-0011
Canyonlands Natural History Association, 2007
7.7 in x 4.7 in x 0.3 in (20 cm x 12 cm x 0.8 cm), weight 7.4 oz (210 g)

This small hiking book contains descriptions of 40 hikes in and around Moab, Utah.  Though Arches National Park is a well-known and heavily-visited wilderness area, this book seeks to direct visitors to the many beautiful places outside the park.  I bought this book just before heading to Moab for 10 days of hiking in October. Having visited the area previously in a mere 12-hour stay, I was not aware of the vast hiking possibilities in the Moab region. Had I not bought this book, I would still think that Moab was "overrated" and that Arches was the only impressive part of the Moab area. Instead, I was ecstatic to discover arches, trails, and canyons in the surrounding lands. Other than the Arches hikes, I also explored and learned about Fisher Towers, Dead Horse State Park, Corona Arch, and Negro Bill Canyon.

Regions covered (number of hikes described):
    Colorado River Downstream -- Kane Creek Boulevard (6)
    Colorado River Upstream -- Utah Scenic Byway 279 (3)
    Sand Flats Recreation Area (4)
    Colorado River Upstream -- Utah Scenic Byway 128 (3)
    U.S. Highway 191 North (1)
    City of Moab (3)
    US Highway 191 South (1)
    Ken's Lake Recreational Area (3)
    Arches National Park (6)
    Dead Horse point (4)
    La Sal Mountains (6)

Layout: This hiking book is well-designed. The introduction gives practical information on the Moab area, including notes about fees, land agencies, dogs on trail, and ATV use. There are also sections on what to bring, how to stay on trail, climate, and basic geology, as well as an extended description of the history of Moab. Throughout the book, there are wonderful full-color illustrations and photographs. Each trail description includes at least one small photo, and each regional section includes an illustration. Great care seems to have been taken to make this book look clean and professional, and the cover and pages seem quite durable (the material seems to be the same as that which is used for waterproof topo maps, though I can find no confirmation of this).

Distances: Mileage for each trail is given at the start of each description, and one-way or round-trip is explicitly stated.

Difficulty: Hiking difficulty is marked as Easy, Moderate, or Strenuous. Such indications are not defined in the introduction, but specific advice is included on exposed sections, dropoffs, and portions requiring care.

Elevation Gain and Loss: Altitude change is not consistently provided, and this is one of the only shortcomings of this guide. If altitude gain or loss is sufficiently high, rough estimates are provided, but in light of the absence of definitions for levels of difficulty, a more precise and systematic indication of altitude gain and loss could adequately compensate.

Maps: A simple topographical overview map is provided with each trail description and was adequate when we stayed on the marked trail. However, an official, more detailed, topo map might be useful if going off trail, as the maps in this book might be difficult to read for off-trail use, and do not include topological features except the most important rivers, lakes, roads, and landmarks.

Trailhead: Brief instructions are given on how to find the trailhead, and there is an overview map at the beginning to give the reader a sense of where things are in relation to one another. However, an additional regional map of the greater Moab area might be helpful to locate these spots.

Management: Many different types of wilderness regions are included (BLM, National Park, State Park, etc.), and each trail is appropriately marked as to the governing agency. Information about these agencies is given on the last page of the book and includes phone numbers and addresses, as well as website URLs. As mentioned above, there is a small table of practical information about these agencies in the introduction (p 12).

Trails: Trail conditions are detailed in the descriptive text for each specific route. Features of interest are also discussed, including plant and animal life, geological features, and historical buildings and mining remnants. A general description about where the trail goes is given, but, since all these trails are well-marked, route-finding information is rare. Side trails and crossings with other trails in the area are mentioned when appropriate. When interesting, information on the trail's history is also provided. One small complaint: though some information about side trails is included, I found it lacking. For example, Negro Bill Canyon is rich in opportunity to explore, but only slight mention to extended hiking is given in the trail description. Seasoned hikers and those who want to explore off-trail might find this book too confining. Nevertheless, supplemental off-trail information could be found online or in other books with a little foresight.

Overall, this book is a wonderful introduction to the Moab area. It helped me discover all the incredible areas outside Arches National Park, and there were enough options that I have much more to look forward to next time.

Pros: small, durable, colorful, good selection of hikes,
Cons: no altitude gain/loss listed, difficulty levels are not explained, might seem too confining to seasoned and/or off-trail hikers

Read more reviews of Canyonlands Natural History Association gear
Read more gear reviews by Katie Rampala

Reviews > Books > Trail Guides > Moab Classic Hikes > Owner Review by Katie Stull

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