Location & Directions
The trail is located about 12 miles North-East of Moab.
To get to the trail from Moab cross the bridge over the river and drive North on highway 191 for 10 miles. As you get closer you’ll first see the turn to the Canyonlands (hwy 313) on your left then Archview Resort on your right. Look for the Willow Springs Road sign then make the turn.
Continue 1.5 miles on well graded dirt road. If you drive low clearance 2 wheel drive then you should start looking for a vacant camping spot to park it. The final 0.6 miles stretch peels to the left at the warning sign then shortly after crosses Courthouse Wash. The wash is dry most of the year, but the sand can be quite deep. The trail head is large dirt parking lot with the kiosk.
To get to the trail from I-70 take exit 182 (Crescent Junction) to hwy 191 and drive south for 18.6 miles. Look for the green Willow Springs Road sign, the road will be on your left. From there follow the same route as described above.
Attached below is GPS file has the track from the hwy 191 to the trail head.
Length: Depending on configuration from several miles to 20+ miles.
Layout: The Sovereign is a lollipop: out-and-back trail with loops in the middle. Remote sections of the trail are separated from closer loops by double track roads and non-technical slick rock.
Surface: Sovereign Trail is typical for Moab surroundings mix of single track, slick rock and Jeep roads. Most of the ride is on purposely built well defined single track. The Jeep roads are hard to avoid on the longer ride, but they’re not very long and not too sandy.
Technical Difficulty: Good intermediate ride. There are some rock moves, small launches, short steep climb sections, but nothing big and unavoidable. Some alternative lines allow for the short airtime. The remote sections felt uneventful but overall the trail is not boring. Don’t get too excited over “Extreme Difficulty” signs, there’s nothing but steeper descents with switchbacks behind them. Cedar Mountain loop is just bumpy with small rock moves in the dry wash.
Aerobic Difficulty: There is no elevation change trend but there are several longer climbs with 250-400ft gain. Intermediate by nature they can feel more like advanced by the end of the long ride and on the hotter days.
Navigation: The trail navigation can be confusing for first-timers. Although the trails are well defined and most slick rock sections are paint marked, there is no obvious recommended/best route. At the splits and intersections the signs provide information about the trail with section names like “link 2” and “link 3”. They are are only useful with the corresponding map. To make things worse the newer part of the trail is separated from main loops by Jeep roads and unmarked slick rock.
Dangers: As any trail the Sovereign has plenty of opportunities for crashes but, there are no big drops or significant exposure. The place can be deadly because it can get extremely hot and there is not much shade and no water. Alternatively it can get very cold and stormy in the matter of minutes. Depending on where you are on the trail the evacuation can be very difficult and time consuming – there’s no civilization for miles and cell phone coverage is spotty at best. To avoid the death from exhaustion or dehydration make sure that you have plenty of water, food, clothing layers and spare parts. Bring company or at least tell somebody where you’re going. Watch for signs of previous flash floods when you park your car. If it rains it may not be there when you’re back.
Bike: All-mountain or cross-country. Single speed is ok, hard-tail bike will do but it’s going to be a pain on Cedar Mountain loop.
Crowds: This is one of the less traveled areas near Moab so crowds are not too bad on the trails. You’ll encounter several fellow mountain bikers on the loops closest to the trail head, but most likely you’ll have remote loops to yourself. The single track is dedicated in some places and multi-use in others. Non-cyclist activity on the single track is rare. There are no major 4×4 attractions in the area so the double-track roads are used to access camping spots and mostly free of traffic.
The desert is vast but finding the solitude can be problematic. The area is packed with campers, happy owners of various motorized toys and mountain bikers alike. Still, if you want to spend the night under the stars you have much better chance here than anywhere along the river. Also it’s free.
Weather around Moab can be extremely hot in summer and bitterly cold in winter. Watch the forecast and be prepared for quick weather changes. Storms move quickly with lightning and flash floods. Spring and fall are the best seasons, winter can be good as long as the trails are dry. Mud is very sticky and it will quickly ruin your fun.
This track does not include all of the loops in the area. Use it for finding the way to the trail head from highway and to get some idea what’s ahead on your first ride. I’ll be back to Sovereign to map more track, meanwhile you’re welcome to send me your GPX files and I’ll add more loops to this track.
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