In a state that features a town which considers itself the center of the mountain bike universe, all other venues are made to seem as compromises by comparison. Yet it is the southwestern (not southeastern) corner of the state that features the greatest variety of both trails and styles of riding, and, unlike Moab, has a range of elevations from 2800 ft, to 11,000 feet above sea level. This means that you don’t need to put your bike away for any of the seasons, just adjust the elevation and time of day that you choose to ride on the 300 days of the year when it does not rain. It also means an increased sense of solitude on the trails, hours of riding without seeing another soul, and never having someone ask if they can pass you on a narrow single track.
Why come to Southwestern Utah to mountain bike? In a very few words: Variety, Quality and Year- round riding.
Variety: This means variety both in terms of types of riding; Cross country, technical, trail rides, downhills, or family bike paths. It also means variety in terms of the type of landscape that you are riding through: low desert, red rock, slick rock mesa tops, spruce/aspen lined lakes and flower covered meadows, hoodoo’s and red rock spires.
Quality: This means that we don’t ride on gravel roads, farm roads, jeep roads, or double track roads. The trails are hand built single track specifically designed for mountain biking, which means ridable, not push your bike uphill for miles. It also means that we encounter few other users (hikers, horseback riders, motorcycle riders or trail runners) on the trails other than mountain bikers. (no bells required)
Year-round riding: Early morning rides in the summer months mean temps in the 70’s and 80’s moving upward in elevation as the day warms. Winter afternoon rides on most of the trails below 6000 feet is in shorts and t-shirts. Spring and fall when you want to see either wildflowers and blooming cactus or fall colors.
How do I get to St. George?
1. Fly into Las Vegas International airport and either
- Take a shuttle to St. George which takes about 2 hours
- Rent a vehicle from one of numerous car rental agencies at the Airport and drive yourself to St. George. 90 minutes
2. Fly Into St. George municipal airport and rent a car
Should I stay in St. George, Hurricane or Springdale:
- George offers the greatest choices of accommodations, food, and services than either Hurricane or Springdale, a lower sales tax rate than Springdale, but a small increase in travel times to the trails east of Hurricane of about 20- 40 minutes
- Hurricane would offer less travel times to the mesa rides of Gooseberry, Little Creek, and Guacamole as well as the Hurricane rim system, but fewer lodging, eating, or bike rental options.
- Springdale is the gateway village to Zion national park, and would be a good choice if spending several days in the park itself is part of your agenda
St. George Lodging: There are a wealth of lodging options when choosing to stay in St. George itself. From budget motels, to full service options. Snow Canyon state park offers a campground experience, and there are several local holiday resorts that cater to those with either recreational vehicles, the desire to set up a tent or sleep out of their cars. For the ultimate in no cost accommodation the town is surrounded by public lands, and the BLM has designated specific areas north of town that provide the option of dispersed camping available up to 16 days.
The Desert Rides:
Down in the low desert below 3000 feet, winter temperatures are in the 40’s and 50’s with snow fall a brief and transitory phenomena, that rarely sticks and is usually gone in a day or two when it does. The hardest part of riding here is deciding between so many possible options; cross country or technical, single track or slick rock, downhill romps or miles of climbing. Many rides are so close to town that you don’t have time to finish a cup of coffee before you find yourself at the trail head. The riding down here in the desert is truly year round, with summer mornings offering 70-80 degree temps, and winter afternoons often in the 60’s. In fact the biggest problem is that we tend to wear out several pairs of riding shorts per year.
St. George is a full service mountain biking detestation with every service that a traveling mountain biker would need, from sales to service to shuttles if you cant find it here your aren’t looking very hard.
Bicycles Unlimted: The oldest and most established bike shop in St. George the people at Bicycles Unlimited have seen the sport of mountain biking grow from just a few trails to the world class destination that it has become. The shop has certified technicians with years of problem solving expertise and they specialize in Cannondale and Trek products. Website: http://www.bicyclesunlimited.com
Red Rock Bicycle: A premium bike shop in every way, Red Rock Bicycles is a Specialized and Santa Cruz dealer and offers a full service shop dedicated to the very best service in the region with the latest technology in bike fitting and repair. Website: https://redrockbicycle.com
Rapid Cycling: The newest bike shop in town Rapid cycling is a dealer in Giant, Scott, and Kona mountain bikes and offers a full service repair facility as well as rental bikes. Website: http://www.rapidcyclingbikes.com
· Stucki springs / Bear Claw Poppy-
Cross country on clay, single track sweetness. Multiple options offer rides from 4 to 13 miles in length, with elevation gains of up to 400 feet. Year round riding possible with early morning riding in the summer and afternoons in the winter. Beginner to intermediate level riding on a forgiving surface. This trail is especially bad to ride when wet as the grooves will last all season.
· Paradise Canyon-
Nice mix of single track and slickrock steps, so close to town that it is in town. Red rock scenery along a trail that climbs out of a gentle canyon to a ridge and back down via single track, slickrock and some short areas of deep sand. Good wet weather ride.
· BLM/Santa Clara River Reserve trails-
BLM system of interconnected trails. Variations from smooth single track to rocky technical areas and miles of climbing. Rides as short as 6 miles to link ups that offer over 20. This venue offers days of year round riding at approx 3000 foot elevations.
· The Zen Trail-
Technical Loop with everything from fast flowy single track to slickrock technical and heady climbing. 6 miles of year round riding which would also be a good bet for a wet weather ride.
· The Barrels trail-
Crazy stunts, and awesome downhill cruise
· Prospector/ Church rocks / Dino Cliffs-
Nice cross country and into to slickrock ride that can be extended on either end to make for a solid half day of riding– great wet weather ride. Trail heads at both ends and in the middle via the cottonwood wash trail head in Washington.
The Mesa’s and the Middles:
Climbing up onto the Colorado Plateau or into the Great Basin Desert offers higher elevations and a wide variety of riding possibilities, from slickrock mesa tops to dirt single track along their bases, with some limestone ledges and granite outcrops as a bonus. The elevations from 4500 feet to 6000 feet offer only about 11 months of ride-able conditions a year with the other month being just a bit too cold and windy for those of us who seek comfort over misery. Drive times from St. George are generally less than an hour, with the condition of the many dirt roads being the limiting factor in many instances.
Over the Edge Sports: Hurricane is centrally located to many if not most of these trails and features a full service bike shop for repairs, rentals, retail and supplies. Website: http://otesports.com/locations/hurricane/
Cedar Cycle: One the way to the higher elevation rides, Cedar City has a full service bike shop and dealership for Specialized, Trek, Diamondback, and Jamis. They are also happy to help with directions and riding suggestions. Website: www.cedarcycle.com
· JEM trail-
Fast downhill romp from the base of Gooseberry to Virgin is the classic ride, but with the addition of the link up trails of Crypobiotic and Goosebumps single tracks it is possible to do an awesome 13 mile loop from the Sheepsbridge trail head at the bottom of the JEM trail.
Several new miles of connector trails offering numerous loop options for the JEM trail. This system is a co-operative effort by the BLM, IMBA and the Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association.
· Hurricane rim / Goulds rim / JEM-
Amazing loop of single track in remote terrain on numerous different types of trail surfaces. 24 mile loop is one of the epic rides in the region. Year round riding.
As close to riding slickrock and single track in Zion national park as possible. Two interconnected loops with numerous alternatives. 11-12 miles of consistently technical riding. Rough approach road requires 2wd high clearance at a minimum and 4wd when the conditions are grim.
· Gooseberry Mesa-
World Class slickrock riding, cliff edges, cruiser single track, stunt areas. Gooseberry offers something for every level of riding ability from a double track dirt road that splits the mesa in half to hairball riding on the edge of a 100 foot cliff. Multiple camping areas along the access road offer the opportunity to spend several days sampling the wealth of world class mountain biking.
· Little Creek Mesa-
Far less famous than Gooseberry, but with the same quality terrain and miles of open slickrock areas that offer smooth and flowy riding on a surface of mars type terrain. Little creek is marked with cairns that are often difficult to discern and it is common to spend significant time looking for the trail. Combine that with a maze of unmarked dirt roads that seem to head in every direction at once, and it is amazing that anyone ever finds this place. Riding on miles of slickrock and single track in abject solitude.
· Three Peaks-
Beautiful trail system west of Cedar City. Cross country riding through granite batholiths that offer an unique riding surface for the region. This trail has always been difficult to follow, but recently the local community has put an enormous effort into creating a well (if whimsically) marked trail system that offers a beautifully crafted 3 season ride.
Thin Air Rides:
The top of the Markagunt Plateau rises to over 11,000 feet at Brian Head peak. Besides a lift serviced mountain bike park that operates once the snow finally melts off in June, there are miles of single track trails that offer an afternoon respite from the oppressive summer heat of the desert. Driving the 90 minutes from the triple digits of St. George to the cool 70’s of Navajo Lake is a lesson in the effect that elevation has upon temperature, yet it is the riding up here that makes the drive worth the price of a tank of gas. Whether it is flower-studded alpine meadow single track, or a downhill cruise through a golden fall aspen forest, the difference between environments so close in miles yet so different in aspect, is never anything less than amazing.
Georges Ski Shop: As many of the trails at Brian Head are down hill runs with significant elevation loss, getting back to your car is always a logistical issue. Georges offers both a flexible and friendly shuttle service as well as rental bikes specific to the type of riding the area features. Website: http://www.georgsskishop.com
The closest full service bike shop to this area is Cedar Cycle in Cedar city.
· Dark Hollow-
Crazy downhill. Lose a mile of elevation in the course of 12 miles of riding. Deep in the spruce and fir forest the trail eventually runs through stands of aspen on its descent to second left hand canyon road and a fast descent to the pavement of highway 143. Contact Georges ski shop for a shuttle back up the hill before you go.
· Blowhard Mountain-
Advanced technical downhill– fall out of the sky for 7 miles
· Bunker Creek-
Another beautiful downhill ride with 2 options
· Scouts Loop / Hendricks Pond-
Forested single track option off of Dark Hollow
· Navajo Lake Loop-
Alpine lake loop trail around headwaters of Virgin River
· Virgin River Rim Trail-
Amazing and epic ride along the rim of the plateau
· Thunder Mountain-
As close to riding a mountain bike in Bryce Canyon national park as possible