Flat Iron Mesa
San Juan County, Utah
View this on the Utah Trailheads Map
Nearby Towns: Moab
Nearby Trails: Strike Ravine, Area BFE
Season: Year Round
Trail Length: 14.77 miles
Elevation: 5,327 to 5,905 feet
Named Obstacles: Rubble Hill, the Dome, Tilt-A-Whirl, Easter Egg Hill, the Squeeze
Recommended by Don
This is a long trail filled with fun named and unnamed obstacles. The two major obstacles both have bypasses, so the trail can be considerably easier if you choose. If you run the trail from the south to the north (starting south of the radio tower) the obstacles are uphill and much more difficult.
Starting from the north end, the trailhead suddenly appears on the right side of the highway. There is a small parking area on red dirt and slickrock that you can see as you come around a sweeping right corner. You may have to quickly pull into this area, then turn around and go downhill as the trail starts.
It starts off with dirt and a few small ledges. Weave your way through the small trees and up a hill to Rubble Hill, a steep descent down rocks. Though it is steep, it isn't particularly dangerous unless you try to turn around in the middle of the hill. There is a bypass to the left if you want to skip the hill, though it is a fun hill to come down.
Turn left at the bottom of the hill, then right at an intersection. You'll come to an area of slickrock that is red and extremely bumpy, where you cross to get to some ledges (a few of many ledges on this trail).
The next section takes you weaving over the Domes, a large section of slickrock. It can be confusing to find, so look for cairns and black tire marks. You may need to get out and walk to find the correct path through it. The next part of the trail can go one of two ways -- a difficult section of steep ledges you travel both up and down, or a fairly easy and quick bypass of this section. If you wish to tackle the more difficult area, go to the bottom of the dome and follow the sandy trail. If you wish to quickly bypass this area climb to the top of the Dome to find the sandy trail at the top.
The difficult section immediately has you dropping down big ledges, then turning and going back up other big ledges. This is a fun section until it intersects with an easy dirt road where you turn right.
To get to the bypass, you must first climb a ledge off of the top of the Dome. Stay on the main trail and you'll find yourself on a smooth, flat dirt road. The more difficult section intersects here.
Watch for a small road off to your left about two miles from where the bypass intersects with the difficult section. You can see some ledges on it a short way from the road. Take this spur to continue on with the fun trail.
Soon you come to a fork in the road, with spurs running all over. You may need to get out to check out the area, but you'll see one spur go down a series of rock bumps and ledges. This is Tilt-A-Whirl, with the bypass off to the left(you can see them connect below). This obstacle is fun on the way down, and difficult on the way up. There is plenty of room at the top and the bottom, so you can play both directions.
At the bottom of Tilt-A-Whirl you can see the trail continue downhill down some rocks. Take this trail (not the easier dirt path). You can make this trench as easy or difficult as you want based on the line you take.
When you get to a smooth sandy area you can walk a short distance to the Overlook to see Hatch Wash. You can see for miles of canyon. This would be a great place to stop for lunch.
Follow tracks if you have them, even if they take you through loops. One loop briefly goes by another Overlook. There are spurs all around, with ledges and rocky areas (almost all with bypasses or easier lines).
Head east away from the Overlook and continue east for awhile. You have been able to see Hammerhead Rock for awhile -- a rock like a hammer on top of a large mesa. Aim for this rock, you will go around it to the right, very close to the base of the rock.
You'll come to a crossroads where you can turn right for Easter Egg Hill or left for the bypass. This hill is rocky and tight at the top and the bottom, so you should walk it first and use a spotter if you can. It is very difficult going up if you are traveling in the opposite direction.
You'll travel along the edge of Coyote Canyon where you can see a difficult trail at the bottom (not the same trail as Flat Iron Mesa). Soon the trail gets even more narrow and there is a brief section that is extremely tight between a large rock on your left and the cliff edge on your right. This is the Squeeze. Take your time and hug the left side and you'll be fine.
After this section you simply work your way back out. Continue to turn right at major intersections and the road goes from rocky to flat and sandy. You'll come to the highway soon after, though there is no good place to air up (you only have the side of the road so if your group is large this could be difficult).
This is a fun, little-used trail filled with great obstacles. You can enjoy Moab without the crowds on this fun trail.
- May 14, 2011: ran by Austin and Terry
- April 12, 2008: ran by Mike, Roger and Walt
- March 23, 2007: ran by Brad, Mike and Roger
- October 27, 2006: ran by Bill, Cheryl, Dane, Michael and Monica
- October 17, 2004: ran by Bob, Eric, Ladd, Monica and Wayne
Drive south from Moab on Highway 191 about 17.5 miles. You will barely be able to see the trailhead on your right, exactly 2.4 miles past the Hole-in-the-Rock Home & Gift Shop, which is absolutely impossible to miss.
Meet at McDonald's on Kane Creek Road and Main Street in Moab, or at the Hole-in-the-Rock Home & Gift Shop if there is anyone staying south of town.