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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,

I'm heading to southwest Utah next weekend for a short mountain bike road trip and can't wait. We have three full days to spare (Oct 23, 24, 25) and I'm trying to set a cool itinerary w/ epic rides. Here are the options I've come up with so far, in order of preference:

1. Virgin River Rim Trail near Cedar City (33 mi) - This trail reaches 9700 feet and might be getting snow right about this time of year. Anybody think we can pull this off on Oct 23? I would love to get this ride in and can handle the cold, but obviously can't deal with snow or much rain.

2. Gooseberry Mesa (13 mi) - You guys think this trail should be a full day? Also, any cool places to car camp nearby?

3. Thunder Mountain trail in Bryce (16 mi) - Is this trail worth the extra 2 hour drive from the other two trails? I consider myself a fairly advanced rider and want a bit of technical ride when I'm out there. What do you guys think? If we don't do Thunder Mountain we can spend a day in Zion doing some rappeling instead.

Would love to get all your feedback! Anyone from Utah especially that would know weather conditions at the Virgin River Rim Trail would be a huge help!

Thanks again guys,
Kevin
 

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Great camping out at Goose. It is also more technical than Thunder Mt. and if you ride all the trails it will take the better part of a day. Little Creek might be another option instead of Thunder Mt. Less tech than Goose and only a 20 minute drive from camp.
 

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I rode thunder mountain last year and it was fantastic. Two hour drive though just to ride it is questionabl though. The trail is very flowy and buff from what I remember, the scenery is incredible. If you went into Bryce on the same day it would make the drive worth it.

Is there any word ondark Hollow? This looks to be another great trail of the region.

Archie
 

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Virgin River Rim is currently dry, there are going to be a lot of trees across the trail, we had a big wind storm about 3 weeks ago. The deer season starts the 17th and goes until the 25th. I'm not brave enough to ride the VRRT during the hunt.
 

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Your plan sounds pretty solid, VRRT and Thunder Mountain might depend on how the weather holds up for you but I think you will be okay. If things get ugly up high Little Creek is definitely a good option (stop at Over the Edge in Hurricane to get a map and good directions there or you won't find it though). I personally think Thunder Mountain is well worth the drive if you have never done it just for the views alone, fun trail too. You can always ride the other Red Canyon stuff Casto, Cassidy, Losse if you are feeling like you need more right in the area or go check out Bryce Canyon and hike down to the bottom if you have time.
 

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If the OP (or anyone else) is interested in Little Creek, PM me with an email and I can send maps and .gpx files. The maps are more detailed than you can find at the bike shops.

Like this but larger file.

I can't attach files to PM's, so I will need an email address.
 

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Kevin…

I'm heading to SW Utah as well next week for a little business and riding. Basecamp for me will be St. George. Work commitments end on Wednesday Oct 21. My plan is to ride Thursday through Sunday mid day before heading home. Last night I found out that my trip will now be solo. Plans changed for my copilot who has to fly east on business. Gooseberry and Thunder Mountain are on my hit list as well as some desert riding around St. George. Depending on how my reconstructed knee holds up (I'll be testing out a new brace as well) my Sunday ride might be a detour to Bootleg Canyon on the drive back to LA.

At 52 with bad knees, I'm not very aggressive anymore. FYI - This trip I'm more interested in recharging my battery while enjoying the scenery than pushing my biking limits. I have a Northshore rack on my SUV with three open slots for shuttle possibilities. PM me if interested …

Jim

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Bicycle tire Bicycle wheel rim
 

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don't miss

Thunder Mtn., whatever else you ride. when you're riding in Utah, regardless of where, you cannot go wrong, but do yourself a favor, get in on sunrise in Bryce & imagine riding a bike down in it. then go do TM. you will forever be glad you did, whatever logistics hassles it might seem like it would be, looking back on it will always a great memory.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Wow so it's hunting season up at the Virgin River Rim Trail? Hm, have there been any mountain biker deaths because of it before? Also, if anyone's been to the Virgin Rim River Trail recently that can confirm it's condition, I'm all ears.

Also, is there a convenient place to check the weather forecast for the Virgin River Rim Trail or Bunker Creek?

Also, Thunder Mountain sounds like a quick ride with some nice vistas...is Bunker Creek the only ride nearby? Are there other rides I should consider combining with Thunder Mtn that are within a 20 min drive?

Thanks again guys, this is all really helpful.

Kevin
 

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tittiot said:
Wow so it's hunting season up at the Virgin River Rim Trail? Hm, have there been any mountain biker deaths because of it before? Also, if anyone's been to the Virgin Rim River Trail recently that can confirm it's condition, I'm all ears.

Also, is there a convenient place to check the weather forecast for the Virgin River Rim Trail or Bunker Creek?

Also, Thunder Mountain sounds like a quick ride with some nice vistas...is Bunker Creek the only ride nearby? Are there other rides I should consider combining with Thunder Mtn that are within a 20 min drive?

Thanks again guys, this is all really helpful.

Kevin
For weather you could just check the forecast for Navajo Lake, VRRT is right there. Maybe try Brian Head forecast for Bunker Creek.

For more options around Thunder Mountain go to this page:
http://utahmountainbiking.com/trails/index.htm
Click the area around Panguitch on the map, then check out the Cassidy-Losee Loop and others in the area.
 

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Thunder mountain and Gooseberry definitely should be on the list.

I wasn't as impressed with the VRRT. The views weren't as good and the trail was pretty rocky. The first part from Strawberry to Cascade Falls was mostly double track.

But I am pretty affected by altitude and since you're riding between 8500-9700 feet I was walking a lot of the climbs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Cool, thanks for the input guys. Think I've got a new itinerary planned based on all your feedback. Mind giving your thoughts?? Do the logistics here make sense? Also, I know Bunker Creek is really high up, you think it's rideable a week from now?:

Day 1 (Friday Oct 23): Gooseberry Mesa

Day 2 (Saturday): Bunker Creek AND Thunder Mountain

Day 3 (Sunday): JEM Trail, then drive home
 

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tittiot said:
Cool, thanks for the input guys. Think I've got a new itinerary planned based on all your feedback. Mind giving your thoughts?? Do the logistics here make sense? Also, I know Bunker Creek is really high up, you think it's rideable a week from now?:

Day 1 (Friday Oct 23): Gooseberry Mesa

Day 2 (Saturday): Bunker Creek AND Thunder Mountain

Day 3 (Sunday): JEM Trail, then drive home
Day 1-------- Sounds like and excellent day for you and plenty of riding. FWIW, I logged 23 miles on Gooseberry Friday. That was North Rim, South Rim, Hidden Canyon, Yellow Trail, Bowls n' Ledges and the Practice Loop Twice. PM me and share with you where to park and the best campsite on the Goose.

Day 2 ---- Never done Bunker Creek but Thunder MTN is way cool. Remember you're at 8000+ feet so bring a base layer and check the weather. Don't shuttle Thunder MTN, ride it from the bottom parking lot up the paved trail as a loop.

Day 3 ----- JEM is less than ann hour and a half ride on an out and back.

IMO (and I live here..) a great/fun loop is to park at the Sheepsbridge Road parking lot in Virgin (lower JEM trailhead) and ride the JEM "up" to Sheeps Bridge Road, Take a right on Sheeps Bridge Road and go across SR-59 to the "Cattle Pen" and go left. This takes you on the upper half of the Goulds Trial. This climbs and winds on some sweet single track and ends at SR-59. Cross SR-59 an take a very short ride down the double track to the upper JEM Trailhead. Ride the JEM down (It's a friggin hoot) across Sheepbridge Road again.. and then all the way back to your starting point at the lower JEM trailhead.

Alternative route is to ride the "race course plus route" which is 16 or so miles. Start same place but then goes east on to th erace course route at the gravel pit. It is some nice double tracl (about six miles) and then you ride the JEM almost from the top and take double track out to the Hurricane Rime trail and then rode a couple of miles of it which will connect you back onto the JEM and the to the lower JEM trailhead. This is two to two and a half hours max.

I ride basically every day and will be happy to show you around on Gooseberry and/or the JEM routes listed. PM me....:thumbsup:
 

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Awesome trip!

I might amend day two with Blowhard instead of Bunker Creek. It's pretty spectacular scenery and far more challenging riding. Dark Hollow is also great, but a bit short. Dark Hollow rides well in the wet, though, and you can always do multiple laps, I suppose.

Not offense to STT GUY, but don't pedal up a paved road to make a loop of Thunder. Shuttle it and ride your bike on dirt. It's your second ride of your second day - take your time at the top of the little mini-climbs and shoot pictures there. If it hasn't rained, be prepared to work on your drive train after that ride as the dust can cause serious havoc.

Last day, look at some other shorter rides if JEM alone is too short a ride. Maybe Guacamole or a Littlecreek loop from Crashtest's map above.
 

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P-townDave said:
Awesome trip!
Not offense to STT GUY, but don't pedal up a paved road to make a loop of Thunder. Shuttle it and ride your bike on dirt. It's your second ride of your second day - take your time at the top of the little mini-climbs and shoot pictures there. If it hasn't rained, be prepared to work on your drive train after that ride as the dust can cause serious havoc.
.
None taken! I just think it's a really great ride up the bike trail and an opportunity to warm up but I didn;t consider that it was ride two of the day.... . There's some good climbs on the trail itself as you know.
 

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Just got back last night after 3 1/2 days of riding:
We stayed in St George, so our trip was biased a bit by road time, vs camping.
Day one:
Little Creek, then a fun tour by locals in St George in the late afternoon. Quite exhausting day, but really fun.
Day two:
Met our tour guides ("Team Sanchez") again, did Gooseberry Mesa, with play opportunities, then I had to get a buddy back to Vegas, but the other three of our group did a Grafton Mesa shuttle, that we had set up before Goose. Great day.
Day three;
Pretty tired from two full days of riding, we decided to go "softer" but do something different, so off to Thunder Mountain. What a beautiful drive, went up through Cedar City, then across and up to Ruby Canyon. Road went up and over 9900 feet, great views, lava fields, High alpine meadows, foliage etc. really good sightseeing, let alone going to ride one of the most visually remarkable places I've ever been to. Thunder Mountain, which we did as a shuttle. Still quite a bit of climbing involved, nothing crazy, but do not think that when done as a shuttle, there will be no climbing. Conditions as of Saturday the 17th, very dry and very powdery. some of the climbing was borderline due to traction issues with the deep powder. Some horses had softened things up pretty badly in places. high speed turns were very drifty. Just an incredible ride. Nice climbing leading to surreal landscape, followed by one of the most fun descents ever. nice exposure in a few spots, tight but totally rideable switchbacks, then the last mile or so along the bottom ultra-fast singletrack. I probably hit 30 mph in a few spots, really burning along, getting air on a series of whoops.
Cannot say enough. the combo of riding terrain and scenery makes it a Must Do if you can get to it.
Drove back through Zion, again, great back-country scenery, then a great lunch at Oscar's in Springdale.
Then we hit the Guacamole Trail, fun easy singletrack to slickrock play, good rim views, bits of petrified wood laying around. Back to St. George. Really great day, lots of driving, but as an out of towner, I'd have been happy just doing the drive by itself, for the scenery, let alone the two rides as well.
 
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