3-D

These are just general write ups.  For how the trail is being ran on the day you sign up be sure & check the forums in the trail section on the day you sign up for.

The 3-D trail is a beautiful trip that starts near the Moab airport in the grey soil of the Mancos Shale formation and winds its way through a few other geologic formations to add some more color to the trip. Specifically, the colorful Morrison formation is encountered, and the Entrada sandstone is also viewed.  A sub formation of the Entrada, the Dewey Bridge sandstone, which is a bit rare in the area, is also encountered. This is a difficult trail to follow in its first sections, and therefore one is advised to run this trip with the Easter Jeep Safari. The BLM has marked the trail, yes, but the intersections can be confusing, the signs can be knocked down by the desert winds, and the terrain offers few landmarks. Please Note: The first section of this trail description, before the trail enters Bartlett Wash, is not shown on the map below(even the BLM must think this trail is confusing to follow!).
 

The trip exits US 191 north of Moab at the  obscure Mill Canyon Road exit as a left turn a bit before the Moab airport, crosses the railroad tracks immediately, and starts along a county dirt road.. To run the actual EJS trail, a couple intersections must be successfully negotiated, first a left, and next a right. The left is at a large parking area, the right at a sign that points the way(right) to Mill Canyon. Once at the trail head, a sharp right from the county road begins up a short hill that requires drivers to pick the safe route to avoid a tree root.  Soon the route begins to turn toward the west and it begins to parallel the Mill Canyon road. Airport Hill is soon reached and as the trip turns to climb this hill, it is now headed south. Airport Hill in its early days was full of loose rocks that often necessitated a bypass for many vehicles, but these days it is more compacted and only offers a small shelf at the top as a minor challenge. Once up Airport Hill the road continues south, climbing up the flank of a hill. It soon starts to head westward again, and meanders along in this fashion until it encounters the main county road that heads up Bartlett Wash. This is indicated as #341 on the BLM’s map. A hard left onto the Bartlett Wash Road starts the trip up Bartlett. At first the county road drops to the bottom of the wash, and then it begins following the wash, which is usually wet in this section. After a little bit in the wash bottom, the road then climbs out via a sandy, twisty hill and starts across blackbrush covered sandy pastures. Before long a road departs to the right. The route quickly finds a steep sandy decent into another wash, and starts a twisting trip up that wash. Soon the terrain opens up as the trip enters Hidden Canyon. Quickly an intersection is reached, the trail is marked as going straight, the left fork explores the bottom of Hidden Canyon and offers some shade for lunch if it is near that time of day. By staying straight another intersection soon appears, and a sign should point the right fork as the correct way. The left fork is the return of the route that explores the canyon bottom mentioned prior. If the correct turns have been made, the route should be heading Northeast. This section consists of a roller coaster ride up, down, and around sandy hills covered with Utah Junipers. As the trip departs these sandy hills it climbs up a hill to arrive back in the grey soil of the Mancos Shale, and it heads to the northwest. After a little bit a fork appears. If it is marked at all, it may indicate “mashed potatoes”. This fork should not be taken, the 3D trail continues to travel in a northwestern direction for quite a way more. Hopefully the carsonite route markers placed by the BLM are in place, because several intersections come and go before the real 3D trail turns to the south and then southeast.

The trip is now starting a long slickrock section and it twists around cracks and bumps in that slickrock as it generally keeps heading southeast. A little “pass” that can be very mean(it has a bypass to the left ) climbs one out of this first slickrock section, and the route finds smoother slickrock as it parallels some red dirt hills on the right side. There are a lot of odd rocks laying around in this part of the trip, some balanced, some featuring interesting shapes. After traveling through this section for a while, the route drops into a small wash and climbs out of it into a sandy pasture area that is full of blackbrush. Shortly a four way intersection is reached, and the BLM has a carsonite marker there. Going straight heads to a neat overlook of Hidden Valley (remember Hidden Valley from earlier on the trail?), this is a view worth seeing.

The fork to the right is the 3-D trail continuation. From this intersection the road continues on the sandy surface, but soon begins to encounter some humps and twists, and some slickrock sections pop up too. Ahead one can see the trip is approaching the head of this “valley” the trail has been heading up. The closer one gets to the head of the valley, the more slickrock is encountered. Some painted marks on the rock point the way. Twisting around boulders and climbing up little shelves finally has the trail to a relatively steep climb on white slickrock. This climb looks more difficult than it proves to be, this spot is called “the Wall”. Once up this, a hard left around boulders heads the trip to a hairpin turn right onto a red dirt hill climb, called “Mean Hill”. Mean Hill can be covered with loose rock and live up to its name. Oh yeah, it is rather narrow too.

It isn’t over yet, once up Mean Hill the trail gets back to grayish rock and proceeds to bump over rock protusions that jiggle vehicle occupants rather thoroughly. Then some short climbs are tossed in to keep the driver’s attention. A few intersections come and go, hopefully the markings are there, otherwise the correct route is difficult to figure. One helpful hint is that the correct route continues on a southeasterly course. Eventually, if one has kept to the actual 3D trail, a 4 way intersection with a large rock cairn is arrived at. A sign here should indicate the left fork is the 3D trail.

This left turn has the road heading east southeast, essentially along the top of a ridge. There are more confusing forks encountered, but most are obviously not as well traveled as the main trail, and most rejoin the main trail in a short distance. The next important intersection is marked by a carsonite sign. It indicates a right turn is the 3D trail, heading straight (or slightly left) takes one to the final overlook of  Hidden Valley and other area features. Just like the prior overlook, it is well worth the trip. A loop signals the end of the spur and simply retracing the trail gets one back to the intersection to reconnect with the 3D trail. From this intersection the trip is well marked and obvious. One very tall shelf is encountered, and it is advisable to get out of the vehicle and look before descending it. Stacking rocks is also advisable for most vehicles. The trail starts gradually turning to the south, and then it continues to turn, eventually resuming a southwesterly course until it ends at Dubinky Well Road, a main county dirt road. Turning onto Dubinky Well Road to the left gets one heading in the most direct way back to Moab via Utah Highway 313.

 

Approximate mileages: 59 miles overall, 28 off pavement

Scenery: This canyon country is unlike the Moab Valley with its sheer Wingate Sandstone rimmed cliffs. 3-D visits canyons that are a few hundred feet deep in the smooth, red-and-white layers of Entrada Sandstone, and the slickrock areas are made up of the white layer that caps the Entrada. Vistas are to the north toward the Book Cliffs.

Obstacles: There are some two-track dirt sections, a little slickrock, a sandy and maybe wet wash bottom, and some rock/dirt mixtures with a few ledges.

Trail Rating: Green

Trail Description Courtesy of RR4W