Outside Zion, A Survey

Experiencing the outstanding mountain biking opportunities in St. George, Utah, within the vicinity of Zion National Park. This highlight of a few trails will get you started…

MTB St. George, UT

Southwestern Utah, in the vicinity of Zion National Park, has some outstanding mountain biking offerings. St. George is a great spot to spend a long weekend of riding desert single track, or to mix in when visiting Zion. A quick highlight of a few trails will get you started:

outside_zion
The Bearclaw Poppy Trail System, one of many trail systems that criss-cross the St. George foothills and canyons, offers rewarding routes, and even a pump and tool station at the trailhead.
Zen Trail Loop

To begin, ride it counter clockwise. I have ridden it clockwise, too, and think it rides “better” when going the “other way.” From the parking area, the climb up to the edge will get your heart rate up from the get-go. Enjoy the view looking down on the Bear Claw Poppy trail system, but also be sure to turn around and look back at the spectacular view of the Pine Valley Mountains rising above St. George.

Continue your way across the precipice, enjoying the few ups and downs before descending some more, which then will turn into additional cross-country riding as the trail meanders back to the parking area. Zen has some super fun tech riding, with rocks and drops to navigate. Bonus: cleaning the steep “stairs” with the tight turn on the second half of the ride as it spills into the desert wash.

outside_zion

Bear Claw Poppy

A cruiser of a ride, Bear Claw is a great way to add on miles, or can be a good start for a beginner-to-moderate rider. Staying on the desert floor, it is mostly a pedal, pedal, pedal kind of ride, but you get a completely different perspective of the desert mesas from down there. There are plenty of cut offs if you need to bail out and shorten your ride.

After you cross back through the gate/fence, instead of taking the gravel/stone/dirt road down to the parking lot, pick up the single track to the left, taking a fun “bonus” trail back to your vehicle, if you are looking for a bit of a rompin’ good time.

Santa Clara Trail system

A few miles up the road from St. George is Santa Clara. There, you can find a network of trails that give you a spectacular array of views, from a mesmerizing red rock wall to the mountains to rocky desert folds, like a ball of crinkled up tan-brown paper.

Jump on Precipice to warm up and then when it connects into Sidewinder, take it. Enjoy the gradual ascent up to Suicidal Tendencies (ST), where the technical riding begins. I was not able to clean that super tight switchback, choosing to get off and walk it, the possibility of a long fall being eliminated by doing so. Up and up it went from the wash, reaching a much-welcomed smattering of juniper trees on the descent after reaching the top.

Going down the lollipop loop, clockwise, was a hoot, and when it connected back into the stick of ST, I knew there would be more fun coming up, but also that I had to climb back up and out of the wash, which turned out to be easier than anticipated.

Back on Sidewinder, it rode like a flow trail, fast and needing some brake-age in the turns. At the junction with Precipice and Barrel Roll, I chose Barrel and rode it back to the parking lot, adding more cross-country descending to close out the morning’s ride.

I got only a small tasting of St. George’s mountain biking opportunities. When in town, or if passing through, any of the three rides mentioned here could be two hours, give or take, depending or your ability, of good time southwestern Utah MTBing.

Local Information

FOOD – Painted Pony: Upscale, the Painted Pony is the place to go if you want to enjoy local renditions of classic American fare. There is a small bar, which does not require reservations. Otherwise, you will likely need to make a reservation to get a table.

FOOD – Cliffside Restaurant: Go here for the view, especially at sunset. Oh, and the food and drink are great, too!

FOOD – George’s Corner: Locals joint. Need another reason to go?!

FOOD – La Cocina Mexican Street Food: Mexican food is always good after a ride. This place won’t disappoint.

DRINK – Silver Reef Brewing Company: Sometime in spring 2020, Silver Reef will open a pub/restaurant and beer garden. They also distill spirits. When it all comes together, it’ll be a great spot for post-ride grub and cheer. In the meantime, look for their beer on tap around town and in cans at stores. Their Red Ale is delicious.

DRINK – Zion Brewery Station: Now open in downtown St. George, they have the beer you maybe drank over in Springdale, outside of Zion’s gate.

RECREATION – Red Rock Bicycle Company: This shop has all you need, for mountain bikers and road cyclists. No need to say more.

RECREATION – Greater Zion: A great website for the entire region and has lots of good info.

You can read more from James Murren’s travels on his website, jamesmurren.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like
SDMBA Black Widow Trail Building
Read More

‘Recommended Directional’ Trail Building in San Diego, The Black Widow Trail Project Courtesy San Diego Mountain Bike Association

SDMBA continues its strong alliance with the proud team of City of San Diego rangers at Black Mountain.  Shovels finally hit the ground on the Black Widow Trail on December 1, 2018.  This first work day attracted almost 80 volunteers, many of them first timers! There will be many more work days before this project is complete so check SDMBA channels for updates.
Read More
Read More

Exploring Julian with a CuyaGuna Ride

I turn right and go on around the top of the ride, where La Cima morphs into the California Riding and Hiking Trail. Undulating, classic, cross-country riding amidst the iconic golden meadows with views of the Cuyamacas, including Stonewall Peak, keep the energy level up – along with electrolytes pulled through the hose of the hydration pack strapped to my back.
Read More
Read More

Self-Supported in the Pisgah Forest

A multi-day mountain bike ride report with friends traversing the Pisgah National Forest for a week of autumnal riding in western North Carolina. On this trip we had dry, sunshine-y, warm afternoons followed by cool, crisp overnights, which was nothing but perfect for five days of pedaling up and down the topographic folds that lie in the vicinity of the Davidson River campground.
Read More
Read More

Rip Roarin’ Through Kernville

The Cannell Plunge is probably the most famous of the downhill rides, a 32 mile journey that starts in the pines of the southern Sierra and drops into what feels like a desert landscape in the khaki foothills. The Just Outstanding trail lives up its name; flow, flow, and more flow on a loamy ribbon through the green trees and then on through the manzanita tunnels.
Read More