Taking Utah By Pedal Power: A Guide to Biking in St. George for All Levels
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran in the mountain biking community or just clipping your hardtail or full suspension in for the first time, you know that Utah is the place to take your skills to the next level. Home to celebrated annual races like the True Grit Epic, Scott enduro, Intermountain Cup cross country, and road races like the Desert City Crit Series, St. George is no stranger to two-wheeled man power. Whatever your level, though, there’s a trail to take you on the ride of a lifetime.
When you’re first starting out, places like Fruita, Moab, and St. George can seem out of your league, but these towns actually make it fairly accessible to test your nerves and master the terrain. Whether you’re working towards a personal goal or taking the family out to inspire a passion for the outdoors, there could not be a better place to pick up foundational skills than the St. George / Zion area in Utah. Take a look at our top picks that promise smooth trails, stunning views, and terrain that will empower a life-long passion for mountain biking:
Snow Canyon Loop (18-mile paved doubletrack loop) – Family riding at its finest with typical stunning South Utah canyon views, paved terrain, and a mild climb right in the outskirts of St. George. If you complete the full loop, you’ll have gained about 1,050 vertical feet over the 18 miles, but you can ride as short or as far as you want. A small portion of the trail seems to have disappeared so you’ll have to ride with cars part of the way. Otherwise, this makes for a perfect day trip with a picnic at one of the community tables.
Bear Claw Poppy (11-mile out-and-back doubletrack) – A perfectly mellow ride with opportunity for some fun, you’ll gain about 1,200 feet of elevation. There’s even a BMX portion to practice getting comfortable catching frontside air and gathering backside speed.
Dino Cliffs Trail (3.2-mile roundtrip out-and-back) – This multifaceted area in Washington City, UT provides terrain for beginners as well as intermediate riders, making for a perfect spot to build confidence and master new skills. From the Grapevine Trailhead, you can take the dirt road about a mile until you turn left at the fork for Dino Cliffs. From there, ride as far as you’re comfortable until you turn back.
If you feel confident tackling downhill steeps, St. George can get you to a level of biking that you’re willing to brag about. While the views from the beginner trails were incredible, it only gets better the steeper you go. See what we recommend for the intermediate rider looking to get a bit more technical:
Paradise Rim (4-mile singletrack lariat loop) – With easy access from town, this trail has it all, sand, a short, sharp climb, slightly technical slickrock, traditional rim trail riding, and a playful, technical descent. A perfect little ride for the intermediate athlete looking for a quick morning warm-up or sunset jaunt.
Pioneer Park (6-mile out-and-back singletrack) – Providing panoramic views of the town of St. George, this trail is the perfect place to get your lungs adjusted to the altitude and your technical skills tuned. It’s a mild climb to the Park followed by stunning views from the top of the road as the entire city is laid out before your eyes.
Zen Trail (6-mile singletrack loop) – Overlooking the beginning of Bearclaw Poppy trail, the Zen trail will only inspire calm once you’ve completed the climb and return to the trailhead. The most technical ride in the immediate St. George area, this trail will take your skills to the next level if you approach it with a good attitude and sense of adventure, combining desert singletrack followed abruptly by slabs of rock and stunning views.
So you’ve done it all and think you can hang? You’ve come to the right place. Year-round, Utah is known for notable terrain for the advanced biker with challenging drives and terrain that will push your skills to the next level. See below for the not-to-miss rides when you’re ready to take your skills to a professional level:
Gooseberry Mesa (A grand mesa of opportunity) – With arguably some of the best views for a mesa ride in the region, the area of Hurricane, UT allows intermediate and advanced riders to play around, have some fun, and push themselves to the limit without feeling like you’re risking broken bones or expensive overhauls. The ride was designed as a world-class playground for mountain bikers and it’s easy to follow the paint track or make your own route.
Little Purgatory Loop (6-mile loop) – Travel a mere 10 miles north of St. George and the Little Purgatory Loop incorporates the Historic Babylon trail in an expert-only counterclockwise loop with a gain of 1000 vertical feet. This single- and two-track ride includes narrow, rocky, and steep terrain with mild exposure.
Broken Mesa Rim (5-mile connector trail) – Beginning at the Mesa Rim trailhead and connecting to Ice House Trail, Broken Mesa Rim can either be made a loop or an out-and-back trail. One of the toughest trails in the area, it has minimal use and even less maintenance, and is reserved only for the most extreme riders looking for a major challenge. It’s a technical climb to the rim where you’ll proceed to dodge and maneuver through lava rock until you reach the final plummet off the ridge where you can point, lean way back and ride on. The views of Yellow Knolls and the Pine Valley range will not disappoint if you’re keen on braving the terrain.
There’s an unlimited amount of fun to be had in St. George on two wheels, whether you’re comfortable enough running trails on your own or in search of a guide to show you the ropes. Take a look at Paragon Adventures for some multi-hour to multi-day rides, while Mountain Bike Buddies can also provide you with fellow riders of similar levels or shuttle services. It’s up to you to determine where your next adventure will take you!
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