The Hurricane rim loop trail
The variety of riding in the Hurricane / Virgin area is staggering. From the shinarump mesa top trails of Gooseberry and Guacamole to the gravity fed madness of the Flying Monkey and Grafton Mesa, the wealth of singletrack riding that has been developed over the years here is worth a journey to experience.
The Hurricane rim loop is a 20-26-mile-long cross-country ride that takes in some of the most diverse and remote scenery that this region has to offer. This is one of the most varied rides in the Greater Zion area, ranging from the smooth flowy clay surface of the upper Jem, and Gould’s wash, to the chunky, slabby and technical rock on the rim above the Virgin river, it requires endurance, technical skills, a good head for heights and drop offs, as well as self-sufficiency / preparedness due to the backcountry nature of some of the riding.
Highway 59 trailhead – Parking at the cell phone tower trailhead on UT-59 offers the option or riding the loop in either direction, though both require a significant amount of climbing with no real warm up. Counter clockwise is probably the typical direction that most riders choose, but this means that from the parking area a short piece of pavement on the highway leads to a 2-mile climb on the only doubletrack of the ride, before attaining the Goulds rim singletrack. The advantage of this direction is the JEM is ridden as a downhill break from the relentless climbing, and the return descent to the radio towers is icing on the cake.
Alternately the clockwise direction requires climbing up the switchback trail that leads to an overlook above the Pah Tempe hot springs and then onto the Chinatown wash. From here the ride along the Hurricane rim offers views of Zion in the distance with the river far below. Connecting to the JEM trail turns that into a gentle uphill climb and options to jump onto Cryptobionic, or Goosebumps to add mileage. Dead Ringer offers uphill access to the trailhead at highway 59, and after crossing it the Gould’s wash, and Gould’s rim trails offer smooth flowy downhill back to the double track road and thus to the parking at the radio towers.
Sheeps Bridge parking- The unofficial parking at the bottom of the JEM trail offers the full value of cliff edge riding above the Virgin River, as well as using the downhill riding of the JEM trail as the finishing touch for a full day of riding. Turning onto the Hurricane rim trail after the first mile and a half of the JEM, puts the double track grind of the Gould’s rim access road in the middle of the ride, and also offers the alternate downhill return options of Cryptobionic, or Dead ringer.
Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced
Kid Friendly: No
Wet Weather ride: NO
% Singletrack: 95%
Quality (1-5 stars) ****
Season: This is a year round ride, though getting through the entire thing in the middle of the summer heat will require a dawn start, and a ton of water. Spring and Fall are optimal and the Cliff rose and cactus bloom in late april or early may offers a bonus of scent and color absent during the rest of the year. Winter riding can be tricky due to the clay nature of the JEM and Goulds wash. Several days of drying can be necessary after a rainstorm especially during periods of freeze and thaw.
Wildlife: This ride straddles the boundary between the Mojave and Colorado plateau with the range of species typical of these regions. Reptiles, birds, and small mammals are present most of the year, with reports of rattlesnakes and Gila monsters during the spring and summer months.
Mountain bike project:
Utah Mountain Biking.com