Hook and Ladder — an ATV adventure in Moab

Lynn Blamires
ATV Adventures
(Lynn Blamires courtesy photo)
Keith Erickson makes a sharp turn on the trail.
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With all of the Moab OHV trails the Northern Utah ATV Trail Riders could have picked to ride, I was comfortable with the Hook and Ladder Trail. It did not sound life threatening like the other choices — Hell’s Revenge, Metal Masher, or Steel Bender.

Traveling south of Moab on Highway 191 past Wilson Arch, we turned east on State Road 179 where we unloaded and started our ride. Traveling north, we soon found ourselves climbing rock benches through scrub juniper. Sandy trails dotted with patches of slick rock took us around sandstone hoodoos and over landscape for which Moab is famous.

We soon came upon the trail’s namesake. Hook and Ladder is a rock that looks like a huge sofa. A ladder allows access to the “seat” about 20 feet up. The seat is a large flat area in the middle of this huge rock. Legend has it that a cowboy captured a girl out of her cabin using a hook. Placing her in the seat of the rock sofa for safe keeping, he built a ladder and used it when he came to visit her. I can’t imagine she was happy about it.

Leaving the rock sofa, we followed a trail that took us to Agate Point overlooking the backside of Wilson Arch. From this point we could see not only Wilson Arch, but west across the valley to Looking Glass Rock. I noted that the point was peppered with a variety of agate specimens, hence the name: Agate Point.

We learned that in building Highway 191, the government needed to cross land owned by a Mr. Wilson. He granted permission with the requirement that the arch be named after him. We were also surprised to see a small gated community nestled behind the arch which is all but invisible from the highway. It looked strangely out of place.

Backtracking to a junction we had previously passed, we came to an overlook for the Four Fins and stopped for lunch. Some land features catch the eye because of their magnitude. This is the case with the Four Fins, four huge fingers of rock pointing in the same southwesterly direction but staggered unevenly.

Traveling back to the Hook and Ladder, we traveled around the rock and took a different route to the trucks. This was a great section of trail that took us up and down steep slickrock slopes. We rode the top of a rock ridge, the sides of which dropped off steeply on both sides. I tried to point that out to my closed-eyed companion riding with me in my Yamaha Rhino. “Don’t look, just drive!” he yelled with a white-knuckled grip on the grab-handle. I tried to tell him that he was missing some of the best parts of the trail, but he was having none of it. He was better when we got down to the canyon floor.

This part of the trail was really fun. It took us right along the base of the sandstone walls rising high above the canyon floor and then up sandy ridges only to plunge down, once again, along the sides of the canyon. This trail offers a wonderful array of erosion-created rock formations. We found ourselves riding through one incredible vista after another.

I followed in line like a lemming through some fantastic country, not noticing that the riders in front of me were disappearing over a slickrock patch. I did not realize what was happening until I was in a nose-dive heading straight to the bottom of a steep slope. I was amazed at the grip my radial tires had on the slick rock. We reached the bottom! I was thrilled at the accomplishment. Well, not so thrilled that I wanted to turn around and go back up. Some parts of the trail, once passed, are best left behind. The slope gets steeper every time I tell the story.

The best time to ride this area is in the spring or in the fall. When you go, take plenty of water, never ride alone, and keep the rubber side down.

You may contact Lynn Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.

Lynn Blamires

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