View Full Version : Trip Report Moab - Amasa Back aka Cliff Hanger

12-10-2005, 11:33 AM
Here is a write up on one of my Moab trips

Amasa Back - AKA Cliff Hanger

Amasa Back is located west of downtown Moab on a high rock plateau formed by a gooseneck in the Colorado River creating shear rock ledges on the West, North and East Side and Jacksons Hole to the south. The ride is only 4.3 miles from the start to the overlook at the end and has a side trip of .7 miles one way. This ride could easily be combined with a trip to Hurrah pass or chicken corners to make a full day.

Amasa Back is accessed on a land bridge that was created as the Colorado river looped around Jacksons hole prior to punching through the western end leaving the towering butte and valley that we now call Jacksons hole. If the river had not found a route to the west of Jacksons hole it would have likely punched through the south eastern corner of Amasa Back leaving an inacessible island in the sky with shear rock cliffs on all sides.

Find the McDonalds on Main street and turn west on Kane Creek Road. Follow Kane Creek Road approximatley 4.6 miles to the Parking area to unload your ATV's at : TOPO! GPS Data Format UTM NAD27 PARK,12S,621972,4265678.

This is where Kane Creek joins the Colorado river. There are hiking and Mt. Bike trails leaving the parking lot but ATV's must follow the gravel road to the south

After unloading ride south on Kane Creek Road to where Amasa back leave the road on the right side.
Be very careful on this road as it is used by automobiles quite heavily. You will pas a second smaller parking lot on the right side of this road as you approach the actual trail head. Technically this is the Amasa Back Trail head parking lot. Just past the second parking lot is where Amasa Back Trail leaves the fast graveled road. There is only a sign and the trail drops off the side of the road at a very steep pitch at: TOPO! GPS Data Format UTM NAD27 TH,12S,622023,4264707.

This first section can be quite rough so pick your route carefully and consider that on occasion there are some steps in here that would make a novice rider quite nervous. The trail drops quickly into the bottom of Kane Creek and crosses the creek. Use you own judgment on the water level but usually the stream will not be above the floorboards of your ATV.

The trail climbs its way back up the ledges to the top of Amasa Back. This is a fairly rough section with lots of ledges to hop over. You cannot get lost since there is only one way in and one way out.

As you get to the top you will find a fork in the road. This is 2.2 Miles from the start of the trail at: TOPO! GPS Data Format UTM NAD27 12S,620449,4264146.

The road to the right takes you out to a viewpoint overlooking the Colorado river and the eastern cliffs of Amasa Back. Looking across the river and far below you can see the Poison Spider Trail Head parking lot. This side trail is only .7 miles long and ends at: TOPO! GPS Data Format UTM NAD27 12S,620934,4264954.

Continuing on, you approach the western side on Amasa Back overlook Jacksons hole. If you look west toward the river and then northwest along the cliffs you can imagine how the river once cut a giant swath around the free standing butte in front of you long before the river chose its current path.

The trail approaches the very edge of the cliff soon after leaving the intersection. The trail is fairly rough here and you would be wise to go slow and easy given that tipping over may have grave consequences. The trail appears more as a shelf on the cliff edge than a real road. This trail has been called "Cliff Hanger" by the 4x4 crowd because of this section.

As you near the end of this section along the cliff and the trail begins to widen a little stop at: TOPO! GPS Data Format UTM NAD27 12S,620063,4264783 and look over the edge toward the bottom of Jacksons hole and you will see a hiking and Mountian Bike trail aproaching the base of the cliff. This trail climbs the cliff face in a crack known as Jacksons Ladder. You can see the faint switchbacks of the trail or even the occasional climber in the crack.

Soon after you pass Jacksons Ladder the trail crosses some click rock and becomes a bit difficult to follow. Look carefully for the either small cairns or just the path with the fewest small pebbles and odd rocks in it and you will soon find your way.

The trail climbs up across this slick rock to the edge of very high cliff and you will find yourself looking down at the Colorado river. Across the river, the blue "ponds" that you see are the Potash mining operations that have long been a major part of the local economy. If you look very closely you can see the Chicken Corners trail following the left edge of the river near where the river finally disappears from view. The view from this point will be the cover of the "ATV Moab" book I am working on now.

The trial ends at: TOPO! GPS Data Format UTM NAD27 12S,618332,4264987.

The return trail makes a small loop here, look slightly toward the north at this point and follow the track back down the slick rock and join the main trail about .15 miles back toward the trail head.

Here are some photos:

Lots of Parking

The trail head for Amasa Back

As you aproach the stream crossing stay on the trail

Hey look...ROCKS!

A view east toward the Las Sal Mountains - great riding up there too!

Some nice people from Colorado - Trail head behind them

At the intersection that goes over to view Poison Spider - Its a dead end.

The mesa in the dead center is Dead Horse point State Park

Jacksons Hole - The Butte to the left is in the center of the hole

Close up of switchback hiking trail on Jacksons Ladder - 500 vertical feet of hell!

My trusty steed

The view at the end of the trail - Probably the book cover

12-23-2005, 08:56 AM
Nice write up on this trail. We did that trail about a year ago. That was one of he toughest atv trails we have done. We like to head to Moab a couple times a year and hit some hardcore trails. There is some terrific riding in the area. Have you done the upper Kane creek trail? Here is a photo of a bridge crossing that had me puckered up. Chicken.