Bear Claw Poppy / Stuki Springs

Stucki Springs trail

Starting the 6 miles of downhill on the Stuki springs trail

Green Valley Loop / Bearclaw Poppy trail                                                                                                                                                                    

Google maps pin to trail head:                                                                                                            ,-113.6122929/37.0892662,-113.6367593/@37.0892783,-113.6378859,18.5z/data=!4m4!4m3!1m1!4e1!1m0?hl=en 

Difficulty:  Beginner to Intermediate                                                                                                          Kid Friendly: Yes                                                                                                                                            Dogs: Yes                                                                                                                                                          Wet Weather ride: NO                                                                                                                                    % Singletrack: 95                                                                                                                                            Quality: ****  (1-5)                                                                                                                                 

It would not be an exaggeration to state that this trail system is probably responsible for getting more locals hooked on mountain biking than all the rest of the trails in the region combined. Originally developed by motocross riders in the 70’s and 80’s, mountain bikers adopted the trail in the early 90’s, and with the realization of the rarity of the Bear Claw Poppy plants that grow here but nowhere else on earth, motorized travel was prohibited by the Utah department of natural resources in the mid 1990’s.

Referred to as both the Green Valley loop and the Bearclaw Poppy trail,  the lower section of the trail was,  and still is often ridden as a downhill trail from the top of the Green Valley Gap, down the three fingers of death, into the wash to clavicle hill and down 2 miles of rollers to Bloomington with pavement and gravel roads serving as connectors to return. The portion of the trail from Clavicle hill to Bloomington was designated as a one way trail in 2016 to reduce the likelihood of collisions on this high speed downhill section.

Wet Weather Note:  After a rainstorm there is often a significant difference in trail conditions between the top and the bottom of this trail.  The top of the trail at the Green Valley Gap is on the Shinarump layer which is a coarse sand surface that drains very quickly after a rain storm.  The relative dryness of this layer will often lead unsuspecting riders down the 3 fingers of death with good conditions only to have the trail become progressively more gooey as the trail moves into a white clay layer which takes days to dry out after a rain.   Riders who continue towards Bloomington on wet clay will leave deep grooves in the surface of the trail which will remain in some cases for years, and have ruined the original  flow trail in this region.  Please do not ride this trail when it is wet.  If you descend and find the conditions to be less than dry climb back up the hill and do not ruin an iconic trail due to ignorance or laziness.

Navaho trail head

Most riders on this trail these days begin and end at the Navaho road trail head in Bloomington, and turn the ride into a fun loop that does not require connecting road riding.  A BLM sponsored bike support area with floor pump and basic tools has been provided at the start of the trail, along with some basic signage that designates and uphill trail to the west of the original but now downhill portion.

BLM funded work station at the start of the Bear Claw Poppy trail

BLM funded work station at the start of the Bear Claw Poppy trail

The Bearclaw uphill trail-  Runs parallel and just west of the Bearclaw Poppy trail. This trail provides a gentle gradient for gaining the 285 feet of elevation in 2 miles. At that point several options will present themselves.  Riders who just want the downhill loop should turn right climb the short hill and begin the descent back to the Navho trail head.                                          

Difficulity:  Beginner                                                                                                                                    Kid Friendly: Yes                                                                                                                                            Dogs: Yes                                                                                                                                                          Wet Weather ride: NO                                                                                                                                  % Singletrack: 100                                                                                                                                           Quality: ***  (1-5) 

The Bloomington Alternate- This trail turns off left just prior to the intersection with the Bearclaw Poppy, and runs back south towards the trail head at Navaho.

Difficulity:  Advanced                                                                                                                                 Kid Friendly: Yes                                                                                                                                            Dogs: Yes                                                                                                                                                          Wet Weather ride: NO                                                                                                                                  % Singletrack: 100                                                                                                                                            Quality: ****  (1-5) 

Stuki Springs Loop- Continuing straight (north) from the end of the uphill trail begins Stuki springs loop. This 7 mile loop can be ridden in either direction with the Rattlesnake trail (AKA Snakepit)  or Stuki cuttoff connectors forming the eastern legs of the loop.  Note that when riding clockwise it is very easy to miss the right hand turn onto the Rattlesnake trail and end up at the Santa Clara river reserve trail system.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Difficulity:   Intermediate                                                                                                                            Kid Friendly: Yes                                                                                                                                            Dogs: Yes                                                                                                                                                          Wet Weather ride: NO                                                                                                                                  % Singletrack: 100                                                                                                                                            Quality: ****  (1-5) 

Season-  These trails are accessible any week of the year, with the best all day conditions being in the spring and fall.  Summer early mornings offer temps in the 70’s but rattlesnake awareness should be practiced. Winter afternoons feature temps in the 50’s and 60’s and fewer reptile encounters. During the heat of the summer it is not uncommon for locals to use lights to turn these into night rides, and due to the reflectivity of the white clay surface the experience is both comfortable and fun.

Bearclaw Poppies- These plants do not grow in any other parts of the world and if we want to continue to enjoy the fantastic riding that this area offers all riders need to give the plants a chance to thrive. The Department of Natural resources has erected a long line of wooden fencing in an effort to keep mountain bikers on the established trails and off the plants. Bikers who ignore these restrictions should be chastised by the community or our access to this area may be curtailed.

Bear claw Poppies

Bear Claw Poppies growing on the rim of the Stuki springs trail.

Bear Claw Poppy

Close up of the endangered Bear Claw Poppy

Wildlife- Typical of the lower elevations of the Mojave desert numerous species of reptiles, spiders, arachnids, birds, and small mammals reside here.  Coyotes, kit fox, and bobcats form the upper parts of the food chain, with mountain lions further out in the canyons.  Desert tortoise are not an uncommon sight in the washes, and mountain bikers should be especially watchful for rattlesnakes in the bushes along the sides of the trails especially in the early morning hours.

sidewinder rattlesnake on Bear Claw Poppy trail

Sidewinder Rattlesnake soaks up morning warmth

gila monster on zen trail z2

Gila Monster just off of the Zen Trail

Soil-  Most of these trails are on the soft clay’s and mudstone’s of the Moenkopi formation. Undisturbed ground is generally colonized by Micro biologic soil which is fungus and bacteria working symbiotically to stabilize the soil and provide nutrients for the few plant species that can survive in this harsh environment.