Southern Utah Trail advice and lodging...- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Southern Utah Trail advice and lodging...

    Hello. I'm planning a trip to southern utah mid-April to early May. Couple of things -- what trails to ride for a 3 day excursion? and where to stay (Cedar City, Hurricane, or St. George).

    Trails that are 20+ miles long would be great. My riding level is between intermediate to advanced and really enjoyed riding in places like Fruita, Moab, and Sedona.

    I have not done much research yet, but trails that I've read about are Thunder Mountain, Gooseberry Mesa, Zen trail...

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    The first thing to do is check out the "sticky" at the top of the page labeled "Hurricane/St George Trip Planner"....but for the the most part you'll want to stay down in St George, Hurricane or Washington areas. I usually stay in the Virgin area but have stayed in Hurricane, stayed in St George last trip and staying in Washington next time.

    No matter where you stay, you're going to be driving to hit the best trails because they are spread out in almost a triangle for the most part. Gooseberry, Guacamole, the JEM trail and Little Creek Mesa are closest to Hurricane (or Virgin) but you will still have to drive to the trailheads. Zen, Barrel Roll and a few other trails are in the south St George/Santa Clara area while Church Rocks, Prospector and the new Boy Scout Trails are further north off Hwy 9. To get 20 miles out of a ride, you'll most likely have to string some trails together but keep in mind, most people say riding 10 miles at Gooseberry Mesa is the equivalent of 20 miles of a standard ride. Gooseberry. Little Creek Mesa and Guacamole to some extent are like no other place I've ever ridden. Some like to compare them to Slickrock at Moab but I don't agree.

    So what is "best" to one is somebody else's worst nightmare. I love the mixture of trails at Little Creek but everybody else I ride with likes Gooseberry better. I go here several times a year so I'm always mixing it up and trying new trails whenever possible. We almost always hit Gooseberry one of the days but I'm a huge proponent of variety so I'm all over the place. This last trip, we rode Zen, Gooseberry, the new Boy Scout Trails, JEM and Guacamole in 4 days. The trip before that, we mixed in Little Creek Mesa but never made it to Zen or JEM.

    Discounting trail mileage or anything else, if I was going to be there for (3) full days of riding, I'd ride Gooseberry Mesa one day, the JEM Trail and the Boy Scout Trails another and then spend the 3rd day down south riding Zen, Barrel Roll, Suicidal Tendencies and the other trails in that area.

  3. #3
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    Zen trail is only 6 miles long so you'll probably want to ride Bearclaw Poppy, Barrel Roll and some others in the area if you want to do 20 miles.

    If you ride all of Three Peaks in Cedar City then you can get close to 20 miles there.

    Virgin River Rim is over 30 miles long but it may be too early in the season for that.

    If you park at the Red Cliffs trail head in Harrisburg and ride down to Church Rocks and explore Dino Cliffs etc you can get near 20 miles round trip.
    The leg bone's connected to the Cash Bone!

  4. #4
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    Awesome. Thanks for all the great info. I forgot to ask one important thing -- how is the weather mid-april to early May?

  5. #5
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    It should be warming up but you never know....April has average high of 75 and average low of 49. That bumps up to 86 & 59 in May. However, I've been there in early May when it snowed on us and the only thing rideable was Church Rocks for a day or two (still a blast). We went back 3 weeks later and have weather in the 80's all weekend. I'm heading back mid-May and hoping for some temps in the 70's!!

  6. #6
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    I prefer staying in Springdale as there is a little evening life there but it is expensive. More beautiful than other options though and a couple of decent pubs. Zion River Resort in Virgin is a beautiful RV park with camping and cabins and really close to JEM, Guac, etc.

    I find Hurricane rather depressing and don't stay there. The Coronada Motel in St. George is cheap, has a hot tub, the rooms are 1 bedroom apartment suites, and 4 block down St. George Blvd is good eats and a friendly restaurant bar at George's Place.

    I was going to camp at Zion River last week but canceled due to snow. I'll probably be there in mid-April.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmpreston View Post
    I find Hurricane rather depressing and don't stay there.
    Don’t be so harsh on this nice little place. It has some good attributes. While Hurricane lacks the “flashy things” that tends to attract men and fish equally, it has the infrastructure in place to meet most basic creature needs with none of them separated by miles of suburbia and the suburbanites that populate them. It is smack in the middle of a great trail system, if you consider all trails in the area, and it is always a short and breathtakingly scenic drive to any one of them. We never go there just to bike so we find Hurricane/Virgin more centralized to everything outdoor related in the area. There is so much more to see and do, canyoneering, hiking, the lakes, the dunes, atv trails, and golf (argh!). I’ve stayed in St. George, Hurricane, Springdale, camped in Virgin and on the Mesa. They all offer a different experience, but have always met my needs at time. Our favorite is luxury camping at Zion River Resort. They also have cabins and a decently appointed 2 bedroom suite.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmpreston View Post
    I prefer staying in Springdale as there is a little evening life there but it is expensive. More beautiful than other options though and a couple of decent pubs. Zion River Resort in Virgin is a beautiful RV park with camping and cabins and really close to JEM, Guac, etc.

    I find Hurricane rather depressing and don't stay there. The Coronada Motel in St. George is cheap, has a hot tub, the rooms are 1 bedroom apartment suites, and 4 block down St. George Blvd is good eats and a friendly restaurant bar at George's Place.

    I was going to camp at Zion River last week but canceled due to snow. I'll probably be there in mid-April.
    I have to agree with your assessment of Hurricane. Sonny's BBQ is the best place to eat that we found, and you can get a beer or two. And the bike shop is great. Otherwise, it sure is bleak in that town, almost like they prefer the tourist $s go elsewhere.
    Don't get me wrong, the riding in the area is fantastic, very different than the riding we have here in Durango.
    If I were to do it again, and I am sure we will, we'll camp and bring plenty of good Colorado beer along for the ride.
    Craig, Durango CO
    "Lighten up PAL" ... King Cage

  9. #9
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    Hello Riders. Our schedule is finalized and we will be staying in Washington, UT 4/26-4/29. Looks like we'll have 2.5 days of riding. I'd like to see if I can get some solid recommendations on what/where to ride to maximize our time and fun factor. Our schedule looks like 4/26 afternoon ride, 4/27 all day, 4/28 all day. Must ride trails for us are Zen trail and Gooseberry Mesa. Thanks is advance.

  10. #10
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    Since you are in Washington you may want to ride Prospector / Church Rocks the first afternoon. Another good warm up is Barrel Roll near Santa Clara and maybe add Sidewinder and others if you feel up to it when you get to them. Otherwise warm up on Zen. The climb up isn't bad but it is gnarly on top. Watch the heat at the lower elevations though.

    Crytobionic / Goosebumps / JEM / Dead Ringer is a good 4 hours of riding and easy to reach. Gets hot out there so morning is best.

    Guacamole for an afternoon ride. It is cooler on the mesa tops. It is a good warm up for South Rim / Hidden Canyon on the Goose.

    Be sure to report back to us!

    Jim

  11. #11
    Football44
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    Quote Originally Posted by bongsta329 View Post
    Hello Riders. Our schedule is finalized and we will be staying in Washington, UT 4/26-4/29. Looks like we'll have 2.5 days of riding. I'd like to see if I can get some solid recommendations on what/where to ride to maximize our time and fun factor. Our schedule looks like 4/26 afternoon ride, 4/27 all day, 4/28 all day. Must ride trails for us are Zen trail and Gooseberry Mesa. Thanks is advance.
    A couple of points of reflection on our recent first-timer trip to St.G/Hurricane:
    - not sure what I was expecting, but St. G is NOT a small, desert crossroads. Very suburban feel.
    - we heeded the warnings about not going out to Little Creek by ourselves, but I definitely want to ride there when I go back out
    - we did the south rim at Gooseberry, then an afternoon ride on Gander and had a great time
    - OTE is a great bike shop
    - don't climb Angel's Landing in Zion if you're planning on riding the next day afterward
    - I wouldn't advise driving a low clearance car to Gooseberry, Guacamole, or the Red Bull Rampage site. Unless it's a rental : )

  12. #12
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    The road to the Goose can get ugly. Last Sept during Rampage we had flash floods and very heavy rain. A hummer got stuck on the Goose access road. 4WD's really tear up the road when it is wet. Right now it is in decent shape but low clearance vehicles are still a pain to get there. Only drive in from the south access from Apple Valley / Hwy 59. There is access through Rockville from the north but it is in very bad condition now.

    The road up to Guacamole, Dalton Wash, is in great shape now. Anything can get there. Conditions change fast in the desert so be careful. Same with the Zen and Barrel Roll areas.

    As GrandpaSnoo mentioned the St. George / Washington area feels like riding in suburbia. However, once on the trails there are some great views and when on the top of Zen you'll concentrate on the conditions and not the distant little city.

    You will hear about Little Creek Mesa when riding the area. As GrandpaSnoo mentioned most locals advise riding it without an experienced local. I was going to ride it anyway a couple of weeks ago but a wind storm blew in for a few days and I drove home to San Jose. Heading back soon to finish up shooting my "Mountain Biking St. George / Hurricane Trail Analysis For Intermediates" Youtube video and I'll ride Little Creek anyway. I have the GPS track from UtahMountainBiking.com so can't get too lost.

    You won't have time for Thunder Mountain unless it is on your way to or from the area. Check my video if you want an intermediate interpretation: https://youtu.be/_7juVgnYArI Most riders I've talked to consider it one of their top 10 favorite trails.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the replies and recs Grandpasnook and jmpreston. I'll look at more youtube vids and check out the trail track from utahmountainbiking.com to see what we're up against.

  14. #14
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    Which would be a better combo ride: Goose-Grafton or Goose-Gander? Can we ride the bike from Goose to Grafton or do we have to re-park the car? Which is better Grafton-Goose or Goose-Grafton? Thanks.

  15. #15
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    Gander and Grafton are about as different as you could ask for. "Better" is in the legs of the rider. Do you like to pedal (Gander) or do you like to descend rough chunk (Grafton)?

    To go from Goose to Grafton w/out the Gander will either mean moving the car, or riding the road. ( Gander connects the two ). If you have the legs, by all means, you should really do Goose->Gander->Grafton!

  16. #16
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    slcpunk... Perfect. Just the exact info i'm looking for. I'll let the group vote on what to do. It really depends on what rides we're doing day before and day after. Thanks a bunch.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by slcpunk View Post
    If you have the legs, by all means, you should really do Goose->Gander->Grafton!
    That would be a tough ride for sure. I'm sure you've read elsewhere that "15 miles at Gooseberry does not equal 15 miles on your standard trail". Most people say the workout equals DOUBLE the mileage. Everybody is different in what they can or are willing to do as far as squeezing as much riding in as possible. We sometimes do two rides in one day but I don't think we've ever done a 2nd ride after putting in several hours at Gooseberry Mesa. That being said, Zen, absolutely is one of those rides where you can go get a 2nd ride in as Zen isn't super long. You can move over to the Barrel Roll area or go ride Church Rocks on your way back to Washington.

    On our last trip, we rode the new Boy Scout Trails and then the JEM Trail on the same day without a problem at all. Make sure to check in at OTE and see what their shop rides are as well. Maybe you'll luck out and they'll be going to Little Creek and have a built in free guide for the ride.

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    Last edited by Hurkinite; 04-20-2015 at 08:28 PM.

  19. #19
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    Hello again.

    Regarding Goose-Gander combo ride. What is the preferred route to do do this -- Goose-Gander or Gander-Goose?

    Is Zen rideable in the afternoon (2-7pm)? How's the visibility in the canyons late afternoon/early evening?

    Thanks.

  20. #20
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    We do Goose to Gander and as long as it's not too hot, you can ride Zen anytime. It's not really in a canyon for the most part anyway, it skirts the top edge of surrounding canyons.

  21. #21
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    goose-gander is more downhill. Gander generally trends slightly downhill as you go away from Goose.

    don't ignore k2rider1964's comments - i have no idea about your group's strength, ability or speed. the miles do not pile up quickly out on the mesa, even for strong riders.

    just some more comment: gander doesn't have nearly the tech and fun slickrock stuff of goose, its more winding along the rim, closer to desert XC style, if you will.

    if you've never ridden out there, I might suggest making sure you do all the goose trails before doing gander ... its just more fun/unique to the area in my view.

    for example (roughly): go out south rim, cross over on hidden canyon, continue out on north rim out to the point,start back on south rim, ride hidden canyon again, finish back on the north side ... ( bowls and ledges, windmill etc ) You won't feel like you shorted yourself, pretty sure.

    anyway, go for it and have fun.

  22. #22
    Football44
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    Quote Originally Posted by slcpunk View Post

    if you've never ridden out there, I might suggest making sure you do all the goose trails before doing gander ... its just more fun/unique to the area in my view.

    for example (roughly): go out south rim, cross over on hidden canyon, continue out on north rim out to the point,start back on south rim, ride hidden canyon again, finish back on the north side ... ( bowls and ledges, windmill etc ) You won't feel like you shorted yourself, pretty sure.
    ^^ I agree. My buddy isn't a strong rider, and we ended up skipping Lost Canyon, regrettably. We were looking for more of a cool down ride in the afternoon, and being from the East coast, we are more accustomed to riding under tree cover, which Gander provides to some extent.

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