Killing time in and around Moab is easy, but if you’re a modern human chances are you’ve gotten used to instant gratification. You want coffee now, news now, entertainment now, and so on. Why should four-wheeling be any different? So let’s say you’re in Moab, but not for long and you want to have fun, and fast. There are many things you can do, but if you’re like us and you have a schedule to keep then staying close to town is important. Why? Well if you have business, it’s probably in town. If you are leaving town that probably means hitting the highway north or south, and may also include returning that rental Jeep, or at least airing up and fueling up. You could go up to Hell’s Revenge, and heck, we recommend it, but you don’t want to be rushed on this iconic red rock trail (not to mention the traffic you can get stuck behind). You could run out to Potato Salad Hill and test your skills (or test your luck). In that case you’ll either succeed and want more, or fail with little else to do (unless you’ve just rolled your rig down the hill).
Alternatively, you can do what we did in a few hours. Namely, hit the first part of Moab Rim up to the Z-Turn and back, and then hit the first part of Cliffhanger Trail and back. Moab Rim offers incredible views and heart racing obstacles in the first half-mile of trail. The first obstacle, The Devils Crack is comically close to Kane Creek Road, and should get just about any off-roaders attention (if not on the way up, certainly on the way down). From there, climb on up to the Z-Turn, a large z-shaped climb to the right and then left, where even built rigs can find a challenge. Then head back down the Z-Turn, and the Devil’s Crack. If that was hard, and you’ve had enough, head back to town, but if you still have time to kill and a need for more challenges do what we did.
Just a few hundred yards from the parking area off Kane Creek Road, Moab Rim trail gets exciting. This climb should get your attention as it’s off camber to the left towards a cliff just above the road. Driving to the left of the loose rock in the middle and then turning sharp left towards the cliff while is an interesting sensation especially if the rear drops in the hole above the loose rock.
From there we buzzed down Kane Creek Road (observing the 25 mph speed limit of course) to the entrance of Cliffhanger Trail. Cliffhanger’s first obstacle is also very close to Kane Creek Road; a series of steep ledges to drop down. Once down these ledges there is one large ledge with a sharp turn to the right just below it. Pay attention to all of these as you’re going down, because you have to come back up to get out (there is no other exit, and these obstacles are not easy). From there follow the trail until you cross the creek and find a fun ledge to climb. Once you’ve climbed this ledge (easier line to the left, with a steep climb to the right) you have to head up the trail a ways to find a good spot to turn around. From here you’ll have to drop down the last ledge you climbed and climb the big ledge and series of smaller ledges right at the start of Cliffhanger to exit the trail. Both trails are in and out, so you’ll have to come back up, or down any obstacle you attempt on either trail. Meh enough talk, check out the pictures!
Then hug the rock to the passenger side of the rig. The tilt towards the cliff is uncomfortable.
The Devil’s Crack was fairly filled in with rocks this year, but smaller rocks can move. Either way this is one spot where flex and proper air pressure count. The best line for most rigs is to climb the rock towards the bottom of this image with your driver side tire while wedging your passenger side tire against the rock projecting out just above the middle of this image.
Once the front of your rig is up over the crack you want to aim your driver-side rear tire for the same spot your front was, namely on the nose of the rock in the bottom of this shot. If your rear is too far to the right you’ll have to stack rocks or back up to try and move the rear of the rig to the left.
A slightly different angle shows the correct line to climb the Devils Crack. Proper air pressure and tire placement are key. A locker or two doesn’t hurt either.
A little farther up the trail is the Z-Turn. This is a tough obstacle for near-stock Jeeps or those without lockers. The first ledge is steep and its best to hit it with a bit of an angle far to the left (harder lines to the right) so one tire climbs it at a time. If you climb the first ledge stay to the left and get ready to get flexy.
This well-built YJ makes the much harder line to the right.
The middle of the Z-Turn is relatively flat with a few smaller ledges, but off camber to the passenger side with a fairly uncomfortable lean.
At the top of the Z-Turn are some more large steps as you swing back to the left.
If you’ve got time you can head on up to the overlook, and all the way to the end of the trail. We chose to turn around and head back down Moab Rim so we could go play on the first part of Cliffhanger. But first we had to get turned around and back down the Z-Turn and Devil’s Crack.
Cliffhanger Trail is awesome and definitely one of the harder trails close to Moab. It’s a good idea to bring two lockers, large tires, and/or a winch. As we entered the trail this Range Rover and Toyota were coming up the first (and last) series of ledges. To the right (as you enter the trail) is a narrow, yet slightly easier way down (and back up at the end) that’s the line these guys from North Carolina took. The harder lines are to the left here, but going down is easy…you have to come back up to get out. More on that in a minute.
Next drop down a large ledge (like 3-4 feet) and take a hard right. Follow the trail down and across a creek to the next ledge shown here (the green Jeep is coming down this ledge. To go up stay to the left and straddle the hole, keep your driver-side tire to the left (maybe slightly left of the green Jeeps passenger-side tire) and your passenger-side tire slightly left of the green Jeep’s driver-side tire. Or if you want a challenge and have some wheelbase climb the steep line to the left of this image. Follow the trail a few hundred more yards until you get to a wide spot before a right hand turn. Turn around here and drop back down this ledge.
There is a slightly easier line to the left. Come at it at an angle and climb the ledge and the rock to the left. If you hit it just right you should be able to climb it. If not…winch.
The last (and first) ledges are no joke and loose rocks and dirt don’t help. This is the harder line to the right side of the hill (as you’re coming out of the trail) with an easier, but narrow line to the left. If you made all these obstacles it’s been 2.5-3 hours, and you can head back to Moab knowing you got some good wheeling in in a short time.