We’re heading to Crested Butte soon, a place I love to visit year after year. Planning this trip got me thinking about other rides I need to revisit soon–and it turns out they’re all in Utah. Some I’ll get to visit again this year, others will have to wait until I have more vacation time.

St. George, Utah

This is one area I will get to visit again this year and I’m so excited! Of course, our first stop will be Gooseberry Mesa. Last year we spent four hours biking there and it still wasn’t enough. The loops you can create at Gooseberry Mesa are endless and following white dots across rock makes for an interesting change of pace. The trails here go from long stretches of rock to narrow singletrack through pinyons and junipers before again popping you out onto vast stretches of gray slab. It’s a highly entertaining area!

Views from Gooseberry Mesa near Hurricane, UT

Trusting in the dots

Biking among rocks and pines at Gooseberry Mesa

On the second day of our first trip here, it snowed at Gooseberry, so we had to find some other places to ride. Thanks to Singletracks we discovered a great trail in Santa Clara, near St. George. The Barrel Roll trail was perfect for our second day. The jeep road to the parking area is steep but drivable and the trail is easy to follow. It climbs with rideable switchbacks at first and then mellows for a bit. Rolling along on sweet, fairly non-technical singletrack was a distinct change from the day before, but the views and the ripping bits of downhill made it worthwhile!

Views of Santa Clara, UT from the Barrel Roll Trail

After this ride we headed over for a little more riding on the Bear Claw Poppy trail. I wish we’d had more time in the area and I’m excited to have exactly that when we head back later this year.

Brian Head / Navajo Lakes area, UT

The six-hour drive from Grand Junction to the Te-Ah campground at Navajo Lake in Southeastern Utah put me in a “this-better-be-some-awesome-biking” frame of mind. Fortunately the scenery, even on the drive, is pretty spectacular. We stopped near Cedar Breaks along the way and, as soon as we had set up camp and eaten lunch, we were on the bikes and headed up a portion of the Virgin River Rim trail. While riding this whole trail requires a shuttle and 33 miles of riding, shorter loops can be made like the one we did.

From the campground we picked up the trail and rode up, up, up, with me collapsing and hyperventilating once in a while along the way. Once I remembered to start breathing while climbing, things smoothed out and we topped out high on a ridge.

From here we rode along the ridge until the rim trail intersected with the Dyke trail. We turned onto the Dyke Trail and headed back down toward Navajo lake, crossing the road and finding ourselves on the Navajo Lake Loop trail. This little trail took us around the lake, through lava fields and aspen groves, and back to our campsite. Fourteen miles of riding made for two tired bikers! Still, it’s a ride I can’t wait to do again!

Starting the climb up a portion of the Virgin River Rim trail – Navajo Lake in the background

Riding through the lava fields on the Navajo Lake loop

The next day we drove to Brian Head to set up a shuttle for the Bunker Creek trail. We left our car at the end of the trail and had the shuttle drive us to the top. This was the first time I’d ever been on an almost all-downhill trail and I thoroughly enjoyed it! After a short climb/hike from the parking area to the very top we cruised along a rim before descending down into the forest. We ran into a herd of sheep and even some cows. Bunker Creek was great fun. I was disappointed to see that it might be closed, but after checking with Georg’s Ski Shop on July 24 I can assure you that it is in fact, open. The right fork might be closed, but the the trail itself is not.

Overlook on the Bunker Creek trail

Coasting through the Aspens on the Bunker Creek trail

Moab, UT

Sure it’s only an hour and fifteen minutes away from where I live, but I don’t get to spend nearly as much time as I’d like biking in Moab. In 2010 we went over for a long weekend, rented a condo with a hot tub, and had a grand time on the Sovereign Trail, Brand Trails, and the Intrepid Trail at Dead Horse Point.

Riding Sovereign was my first experience following dots across stretches of rock but I really enjoyed it and the ability to tackle bigger drops or choose a slightly easier route. When we got back to the car I remember thinking that I just wanted to turn around and do it all again.

2010 was our first foray into the Brand Trails and we found loads of super technical moments interspersed with great rolling rock riding and spectacular views toward Arches National Park. The Circle O is a great trail for getting your feet wet with rock riding while the Bar B is not for the faint of heart! Most of it is fun, but it does have some very rocky spots with many stop-rocks for flipping right over your handlebars.

Again, if you’re newer to biking, the trails at Dead Horse Point are a great option. There are several options so you can either ride a 1-mile, 5-mile, or 9-mile loop. Even the 9-mile option isn’t too technical. It has a few spots where newbies might walk, but most of it is fun, scenic singletrack. We enjoy this usually as a last-day ride because it’s fairly short and on our way back to the Interstate.

Cruising back toward the finish line on the Sovereign trail

Views of the La Sals from the Sovereign Trail

Rockin’ down the Rockin’ A trail at the Moab Brand trails

Be careful not to veer from the stained path on the Rockin’ A. Patches of cryptobiotic soil dot the rocks.

Hopefully we’ll make it back to St. George and Moab this year for some riding, but I think Brian Head will have to wait. Still, I’m putting it on the calendar for next year!


# Comments

  • jeff

    Even with a month of Sundays it would be tough to ride everything in Moab or St. George. Well, ok, maybe it would be possible to ride it all but I wouldn’t get tired of it!

    The Brian Head area looks pretty amazing, I gotta add this to my wishlist. Have you ridden in Park City at all? That seems like another area like St. George or Moab with so many great trails you gotta keep going back for more.

  • mtbikerchick

    I haven’t ridden in Park City or in the SLC area itself, but I plan to remedy that in about a month! We’re tacking a day in SLC onto our Tahoe trip, so I’ll at least get to experience the Mid-Mountain trail or Wasatch Crest. Brian Head is a neat place.

  • Jared13

    I had to google “cryptobiotic soil.” Thanks for the write up and the nature lesson! 😀

  • mtbikerchick

    @Jared13: You’re welcome! The crypto is all over out here, both on hiking trails and bike trails. It makes staying on the trail even more important.

  • maddslacker

    I’ve been wanting to go to Gooseberry for a long time, I need to get that out of the wishlist and into the ‘rode it’ category!

    Clearly I didn’t go far enough into the Brand Trails, that looks like more fun than anything I found there.

  • mtbikerchick

    @maddslacker: During that trip we took the Bar M to the Bar B, road it, then came back around to the Rockin’ A and Circle O. That was a few years ago. Last year, because of the new parking area, everything seemed a little more difficult to find…

  • maddslacker

    I’m heading to Outerbike in October, so I suspect I’ll see a bunch more of the Brand Trails then. 😀

  • mtbgreg1

    They all sounds like great destinations! Man, there are just SO MANY great trails out there that I need to explore!

  • skibum

    With over 300 trails under my knobbies, Gooseberry May be #1. I’m sure I could ride that puppy every day and never tire of it. Right next door is the equally scenic and entertaining Little Creek Mountain (actually another mesa, sort of a non-identical twin to Gooseberry). LCM is actually somewhat more varied than Gooseberry, with a cool mix of slickrock and singletrack.

    Intrepid is an amazing trail. My wife, who had never been on knobbies and is most defintiely not an extreme sports type, loved it (the full, 9 mile version)–as did I. Lots of trails claime to be easy enough for a beginner but entertaining for an advanced rider, but few deliver–this one does.

    In my experience, the real gem at the Brands Trails is Deadman’s Ridge. This trail gives you feature after feature after feature, each one flowing seamlessly to the next. If you get out there Madd, I highly recommend incorporating this one into your route (best run from North to South after completing EZ or Lazy, and then you can roll into Bar B for a wicked fun techy ride.

  • RideMoabUTah

    Over 40 miles of trails were added to Moab’s Mtn Bike Trail system last year 2011. You can see the updated trail descriptions and maps at http://www.discovermoab.com/biking.htm.

    And Geoff of the Moab Trail Mix crew recently advised these updated trail facts about new trails since January 1 2012:

    Klondike Bluff area:
    Dino-Flow. 4.6 miles
    UFO. 1.6 miles
    EKG add on 1.5 miles
    Agate Loops 2.6 miles
    Jasper Loop & connectors 2.3 miles

    Moab Brands:
    O to 40 (extension on Circle O) 0.1 mile
    Now working on Killer Bike 0.2 mile
    Sidewinder 1.6 mi, and Maverick 0.4 mi, trails Scheduled for October

    Gemini Bridges-Mag 7 area:
    Getaway. 4.4 miles
    7-Up. 9.4 miles (2.0 mi ST with 7.4 mi two-track)

    Klonzo area:
    8.5 miles projected to be built before Dec 30

    Donate some time to the Trail Mix while you are here. There are some good people to connect with in that posse.

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