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Mountain Biking in the Southwest

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    Utah is home to the acknowledged Mecca of meccas when it comes to mountain biking. Of course I m referring to Moab but there s more to life than Moab s famous
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 3, 2006
      Utah is home to the acknowledged Mecca of meccas when
      it comes to mountain biking. Of course I'm referring
      to Moab but there's more to life than Moab's famous
      slickrock. Across the state, Southwestern Utah is a
      patchwork of contrasting geography that offers amazing
      riding opportunities. The Dixie National Forest is
      home to the southwest region called Color Country. Not
      only does this region rival Moab, it's a helluva lot
      more accessible! Las Vegas is 3 hours away, L.A. and
      San Diego 8 hours, Phoenix 7 and Salt Lake City just 4
      hours removed from epic riding.

      Cedar City and St. George are the main urban areas in
      the region with all the ammenities you'll need. Cedar
      City is the gateway to Brian Head, Bryce Cayon and
      Cedar Breaks National Monument. The area is very
      pro-mountain biking. Visit Cedar Cycles at 38 E. 200
      So. in Cedar City and speak with owner Brian Jeppson.
      While at the shop, pick up a free copy of the Brian
      Head Hiking and Biking Guide which list 18 local
      ribbons of singletrack.

      Fitness is something to consider before riding in the
      area. Trailheads at 8000 ft. and above are not
      uncommon. If you arrive from near sea-level,
      trailheads riding without getting acclimated, or the
      necessary fitness, will feel as if your lungs are in a
      vice grip. Thankfully, lung bursting climbs are not
      the norm as most of the terrain is rolling.

      Trails starting from Steam Engine Meadow at Brian Head
      wind through mountain forest with minimal elevation
      gain. Starting at the top of Brian Head Peak will
      allow access to a couple of mega-downhills. Left Fork
      of Bunker Creek is a 12 mile downhiller's delight ride
      that starts at nearly 11,000 ft. The other ride to
      feed the gravity junkie's addiction is Dark Hollow.
      It's a 15 mile one-way thrill ride that features a
      5000 ft. elevation loss. Yes, that's a vertical mile
      of descending that will permanently affix a grin on
      your face from ear to ear. Other rides worth exploring
      are Navajo Lake Loop, Thunder Mountain and Cascade
      Falls Loop.

      An hour south of Cedar City on I-15 is St. George.
      Lodging options closer to Zion National Park can be
      found in Hurricane, La Verkin and Springdale. If you
      find yourself in Springdale, visit Dean Williamson at
      Bike Zion on Utah HWY-9 for rentals, service and
      shooting the bull about mountain biking.

      The recently opened Gooseberry Mesa trail network is
      the area's jewel. Trails include elements of technical
      slickrock, twisty singletrack, rough doubletrack,
      primitive dirt roads and technical challenges of the
      like you won't find anywhere else. The slickrock here
      is unlike Moab's. On Gooseberry, slickrock can be darn
      close to trials riding at times. Short steep climbs,
      scary drops, rock stair climbs, tough lines without
      bail out routes, everything that adds up to epic
      technical riding. There are loops in the network more
      suitable for beginner riders but their not nearly as

      The J.E.M. Trail is another local favorite that
      finishes with a 6 mile singletrack downhill. The trail
      is all singletrack with some spectacular desert

      If you're really lucky you'll find a local who can
      show you to Little Creek Mesa. We were fortunate
      enough to have Morgan Harris lead us through this
      dizzying maze. Little Creek is very tricky to find but
      well worth it if you can get acturate directions.
      Extremely technical slickrock, singletrack and amazing
      views from the mesa are a must for those seeking a
      challenge. Tip - bring extra water, sun block, tire
      liners and/or Slime as this is the desert and plants
      that prick are everywhere.

      Does venturing to southwest Utah sound like fun? It's
      more fun than you can image and activities aren't
      limited to mountain biking. Hiking, camping, road
      cycling and 9 golf courses offer breaks from the fat
      tires. Keep in mind that this is the desert. Ideal
      times of the year are spring and fall though riding is
      possible year round. Winter can be chilly and summer
      is brutally hot.


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