San Rafael Swell Waterfall Trail- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    San Rafael Swell Waterfall Trail

    Does anyone know this trail? It's on National Geo's map of the area as a motorcycle trail and it looks interesting enough, but there's no info about it online. Thanks for any beta!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by ski_adk
    Does anyone know this trail? It's on National Geo's map of the area as a motorcycle trail and it looks interesting enough, but there's no info about it online. Thanks for any beta!
    Probably not much help, but I wonder if its not part of the red/green trails that are down there...around the temple mountain area? Its been years since I went mtn. biking down there, I know the moto guys still ride those trails.

  3. #3
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    Check specifically the motorcycle forums, such as thumper talk, etc. I've run across some bits about it a year or two back on moto specific forums. It looks like fun on the map.
    I'm looking forward to regretting this.......

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by slcpunk
    Probably not much help, but I wonder if its not part of the red/green trails that are down there...around the temple mountain area? Its been years since I went mtn. biking down there, I know the moto guys still ride those trails.
    According to the map, it's separate from the red/green trails. Those all surround 5 Miles of Hell. Waterfall is south of there, with a trail head on what I think is Temple Mtn. Road. I was able to see a very small portion of the trail from the lookout at the end of McCoy Flat. The small section I could see from up there looked pretty cool.

  5. #5
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    I've ridden it on my motorcycle once (down and back). It IS in a different area from the red / green / orange trails...but honestly I don't remember exactly where (I do think adk is right about it being off of Temple Mtn Road. I remember hitting the trail head right from a road).

    It was a great trail - reallyyyyyy fast as it jumps in and out of a wash for miles as I remember. I recall sections of the trail pinned as fast as I could go, with turn after turn through the wash (the "adrenalin" factor is so much higher on a motorcycle). I didn't mountain bike much then, so I did not really check it out in terms of "how would it be pedaling?". I think it would be a bit tough - parts of the rocky washes were just that..ROCKY. And, we did it in March (?) and there was still snow in parts, so I could not even see much of the trail.

    5 Miles of Hell would be a lot of fun though. My favorite on a motorcycle.

  6. #6
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    Thread hijack in progress: I have always wondered why someone who rides moto would get into biking? I mean, after the raw power and speed of moto, how could you be satisfied with the human powered (i.e. WEAK) nature of biking? I know lots of folks have switched, or do both, but I have always wondered why. I would think it would be a one direction progression- from suffering up climbs on a bike to discovering throttle twisting and rocketing up the same hill. I would think biking would just seem like a LOT of work and pretty boring after riding moto.

    Just curious.
    My video techniques can be found in this thread.

  7. #7
    sugoi chairinko
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    Simplicity

    I raced moto all my life, and eventually grew tired of the hassle. Load up, get gas, mix gas, replace top ends, blah, blah. I love the human powered element of the bicycle because it's so stripped down and individual. Personally, it's more rewarding. But nothing will ever replace the rush of the first huck over a big gap. I guess that's why I keep a KXF around, but it sure doesn't get ridden much.

    Sorry to continue the hijack. If I knew something about riding in the Swell I'd certainly post it!

  8. #8
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    TScheezy - You're totally right. But I haven't quit riding motorcycles either.

    There are a few advantages to riding bikes: I can ride with my girlfriend, it is easier to find places to mtb (or places closer) and injuries are much, much fewer and far in between. And I can ride by myself and still have fun simply for the fact of being outside. I never ride my motorcycle by myself - just not a smart (or fun) thing to do.

    But yeah, pedaling up a hill in first or second gear just seems ridiculous to me at times. I did my first MTB race a couple weeks ago (a 24hr race down in Hurricane) - a buddy of mine that I've teamed up with for 24hr motorcycle races before, asked if I wanted to join them on his team.

    It just wasn't that much fun. It was fun being with friends all weekend, but the racing part? Not even remotely close to racing a motorcycle. On a motorcycle, if you have the skill, strength and will, you can make a push to get around a competitor and make things exciting. On a MTB, if you don't have the cardio, you just don't and the person fades off in the distance as you just try to keep breathing.

    So I don't agree with blur on that, but thats ok - everyone has their reasons, MTB will never replace time spent on the motorcycle. It doesn't even compare at all. I spent a week in Colorado this past September and we rode some of the most technically demanding terrain I've ever seen, and climbed to peaks above 12K feet - it was amazing.

    Ok thats enough - sorry to change the subject.

  9. #9
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    They are apples and oranges. I've done a lot of both. Of courser Moto is faster, but there is a special rush that comes from human powered adventure. MTB's are also quiet so you see a lot more wildlife and feel in touch with nature.

  10. #10
    No, that's not phonetic
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    Thanks for the perspectives, gents.
    My video techniques can be found in this thread.

  11. #11
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    I've ridden waterfall trail on moto for years before SUWA shut down most of the swell. The wash section would suck, but there are other sections that would be fun until you get into the ROCKS like above said. Proceed with caution on a bike, but I think it would be a fun challenge. Moto and Mountain bikes are BOTH fun, it's hard to explain. I go biking when I want a quiet and more relaxed experience. I use moto when I want to kick ass and I have serious aggression. Crossover is not a problem even though the front brake on moto is the rear brake on a mtb.

  12. #12
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    K2 - regarding the front-brake-issue. I've always swapped the brakes on my mtb so the front is on the right. Doesn't feel right the other way....

  13. #13
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    Hey thanks yea some of my buddies have swapped brakes it works well with the rekluse clutch.

  14. #14
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    (no I mean on my bicycle - I swap the brakes around so the front is on the right just as a motorcycle is). With a Rekluse, I still want my clutch there too! (I'm assuming you're referring to some guys running the rear brake up where the clutch is....I don't think I'd dig that at all.)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by KGAmoto
    On a motorcycle, if you have the skill, strength and will, you can make a push to get around a competitor and make things exciting. On a MTB, if you don't have the cardio, you just don't and the person fades off in the distance as you just try to keep breathing.
    I really dont see a difference, what do you expect to pass a rider in a MTB ride? "skill, strength, and will" is what it takes to past someone on a hill climb, Im confused. Did you expect a mountain bike race not to include a bunch of cardio as well??

  16. #16
    Robby114
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    Waterfall Trail (Crack Canyon) in the San Rafael Swell

    I recently mountain biked the Waterfall Trail (Crack Canyon) in the San Rafael Swell in Utah with two friends. My quick response would be that it was better than expected single track for much of the ride and disappointing gravel washes at the end.

    The Waterfall Trail is a dirt bike trail that can be made into a 16-mile mountain bike loop. The trail has been supported and marked by the local "Sage Riders Motorcycle Club". I appreciate their work because it was not difficult to follow. This is not a part of the "Five Miles of Hell / Iron Divide Trail System. The "Waterfall Single Track Trailhead" is just off the Temple Mountain Road past Goblin Valley State Park, past Temple Mountain parking area, up the "pass" and past the Flat Top mesa. The club seems to encourage starting from the "north trailhead" to avoid interference with hikers at the Crack Canyon TH off of Behind the Reef Road where this trail dumps out. All of these roads are great for most vehicles.

    We were camping a half a mile from the "Waterfall Single Track Trailhead" so we made this a 16-mile loop. I'm going to guess that it took us about 4 hours (maybe a little less). That seems long for a normal 16 mile ride to me, so I would say it is a slow 16 miles because of the terrain. I wish I would have measured the elevation gain but it seemed relatively easy from a climbing perspective overall. There are about three spots where hike-a-bike makes more sense for a short time but most of this is fine for mtn bikes. It starts with some rocky downhill, rolls on middle chain ring single track climbs, and throws uniquely motorcycle rollers at you. At one point it opens up to a wonderful view of the San Rafael Swell canyons and mesas in the foreground and the Henry Mountains in the background. There are some nice little technical spots that can be done on a mountain bike and a couple hike-a-bikes. This is all a great adventure in my mind to this point. Then, the "Chute Canyon" trail turns into the "Crack Canyon" trail and the gravel wash ride begins. About 4 motorcycles passed us that day and the last guy gave us a chuckle and a "good luck". He knew we had some work ahead of us that day in a thick gravel wash for many miles. This is not sand. Moab sand would be worse. This was more gravel-like and if you let yourself get in the groove you can make fine progress. It really is not that bad, but the wash really prevents me from considering this some new mountain bike destination. We really enjoyed our adventure that day! We really did but it was some work. We made our way to the "Behind-the-Reef" road, peddled for a mile and hit the 4x4 cut-off road that is a short-cut back to the main Temple Mountain Road past the base of "the cone" and Flat Top mesa. Then finish the loop back at the "Waterfall Single Track Trailhead" off Temple Mountain Road. This would be good for a group that had hikers and bikers because the bikers would end where the hikers started and ended the Crack Canyon hike.

    This would be way more fun for mountain bikers if there was a trail that took you back to "Flat Top" and the Temple Mountain Road before getting deep into the wash. There is an obvious ox-bow in the Crack Canyon section of the trail that “the crow” could have taken us right back to our camp and the road. But when you're deep in those canyons and washes you cannot see the landmarks so getting off trail was not the option we selected. If I rode this again I might ride it as an out-and-back. Turn around where you see a unique “rock bridge to nowhere” in the wash. Maybe we should help the Sage Riders build a new trail? They are fighting for their right to ride these trails so be respectful. The fact is that, this is a motorcycle trail. Give it a shot but see it as an adventure.
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  17. #17
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    Wow, thanks for the report. Sounds like you had an awesome exploration ride.

    And to think, it only took 3 years for a reply.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ski_adk View Post
    And to think, it only took 3 years for a reply.
    That's really funny....I just saw "San Rafael Swell" and got all excited....didn't even notice the original date.

  19. #19
    Robby114
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    We did not see any mountain bike tracks or any signs of mountain bikes. Maybe it has not been ridden in 3 years by a mountain biker. I researched this trip but never found anything about mtn biking this trail. I figured I had a responsibility to say something.

  20. #20
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    Nice ride report
    Mtn Biking & Hiking Trail Maps.
    www.Adventuremaps.net

  21. #21
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    It's important that this thread be revived every three years or so...

  22. #22
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    Back from the dead, man I can't believe I wrote like that back in 2009.

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