Todd Hodder is back to provide us with his latest ‘tales from the trails’ update from his riding adventure to southern Utah. If you’ve missed his first guest post on BP, you can read all about it here. Packing up a converted mini camper and leaving his city job, Todd has been out on a voyage – traveling western US and Canada to explore the outdoors on foot and on his two-wheels. Keep up with Todd’s escapades by visiting his blog vanlifeamerica.com.
Saint George and Hurricane Trails
Red Bull Rampage is extreme on the edge mountain biking in some of the most gnarliest terrain you’ll come across; however, even though Virgin UT is home to this unrelenting landscape, it is also the neighbour to two well-known mountain bike towns; Saint George and Hurricane. These towns boast some of the best XC and All mountain riding you’ll find in the SW corner of Utah, and as a bonus, they are only a two hour drive from Las Vegas which grants easy flight and commute access.
Of the two mountain bike destinations Saint George is the more developed and larger, with a population that floats around 80-100K depending on the time of year; while Hurricane is a smaller and more consistent 15K. The Saint George trails primarily reside on the northwest side of the town, while the Hurricane trails surround its north and east aspects. You will find many amenities in Saint George to handle your supplies and gear needs. Check out Red Rock Bicycle and Desert Rat for any biking or gear needs.
Okay now that you’ve added these areas to your bucket list, here’s the skinny on where to go and what to expect?
What’s in a name?
Let’s get you started on one of the more prolific trails in Saint George for the ultimate fun filled experience; Bear Claw Poppy. The trail is a mix of fine stone, small hills, rolling terrain, berms and jumps. It is “THE” choice trail to introduce people to the area. Smiles to be had the whole way through, enough so, that you will likely want to loop it again as it is not a very physically taxing trail even though it measures 16 km total from start to end.
Getting your Zen on
Now to get to the leg burning climbs and gripped descents; I’m taking you to the Zen Trail. Set in the Verde/Green Valley, here is what to expect from this earn your turns loop!
Zen climbs up an access road, through loose stones and gravel for the first 1.2 km. Your next section of tight singletrack climbing will be full of large rocks and slick rock obstacles, keep going to the top; all of your hard work will soon pay off. Stop to take in the view when you reach the plateau, as you will be overlooking Bear Claw Poppy. It’s reward time, lower the seat, and get ready to roll the slick rock descent into fast sections mixed with a few 1-2 foot drops to keep you gripped. Please pay attention to the small rock cairns or ride with a local, it can be difficult to follow when going fast. If you have time, I’d also suggest checking out the Santa Clara trails just on the North side of the Verde Valley. Okay, let’s move east toward Hurricane!
Small town with plenty of options
Hurricane is going to take you into a smaller town setting and place you in the wild, provide you with gorgeous mesa views overlooking Zion National park, and a whole different type of terrain to explore. I recommend to start with Jem Trail, it’s a great introduction to the area. Jem will provide you with plenty of view points and fast fine red rock terrain immersed in beautiful surroundings. Next you’re going to want to move onto Gooseberry Mesa which is an area of multiple trail loops. You’re going to want to take some time to get your loops down, but there are a few options here and I really suggest exploring as many as you can. It isn’t too difficult physically but will require some technical skills to climb and drop from the slick rock. If it’s pure slick rock technical riding you’re after, then make your way over to Guacamole. The trail is located off of the UT-9 and the Dalton Wash Rd.. This is technical slick rock riding, little flow to be had, but lots of fun challenges to increase your skill set. Don’t forget to stop for a snack and take in the views, as the view points are worth breaking for. I suggest doing the loop twice so you get the hang of it, as the loop isn’t too long.
Where to stay
There are plenty of campgrounds around (book ahead), but there is also a ton of BLM (free) and that allows you to setup camp. If hotels are your choice, then Saint George provides the most variety to fit your budget. For more accommodation and dining options, refer to the post Southern Utah Riding and Southern Utah Riding Part 2. And please remember, this is the desert and it requires you to drink ample amounts of water. Get yourself a 3 L pack to be safe and bring light snacks for the day. Happy Trails!