We decided to go somewhere new this year for spring break. We have been going to Green River, Utah, for many years now, and it was time to explore some new trails.
Gardiner: Dee, Kim, Jason
Wright: Taylor, Nathan, Rachael, Jason
Barton: Scott, Terri, Allison, Rodney
Here are some video clips from the trip, followed by a detailed day-by-day trip report.
Thurs. Mar. 28: Historic Babylon
I knew we wouldn’t have much time for our Thursday ride after driving from Sandy to near Hurricane, so I planned a short ride from Leeds to the historic Babylon ruins. This lies within the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, so we had to stay on existing trails.
The road into the old ghost town starts off pretty easy, then gets a little sandy in spots, and then becomes more of a Jeep road. The site consists of a partially completed house and an old smelter in the background. I don’t know the full history of this site, but as I understand it, the community was founded by some Chinese people that helped build the railroad.
We parked on the frontage road just north of Leeds and rode basically due south to Historic Babylon.
After a brief stop at the Virgin River and the Babylon ruins, we back-tracked and then turned east to visit the hiking trailheads at Sandstone Mountain. We took a short hike on a trail leading to an arch, but quickly gave up. Hiking in motorcycle boots isn’t all that enjoyable.
We then exited the Reserve and explored some of the trails to the north. For the most part, these were fun trails, but there were a few sections of deep sand and one rocky hill climb that we opted not to attempt.
We eventually worked our way back to the frontage road and decided to buzz down the pavement back to the car. It was a fairly short ride (only about 18 miles long), but it was a good warm-up ride for our first time out this year.
Bob loaded his camping gear on his adventure bike while we loaded up our trailers. Bob then headed out into Warner Valley to set up camp. The Wright’s and Gardiner’s drove through Toquerville to check out our planned ride for Saturday, only to find out the road to the trailhead was closed. That meant we needed an alternate plan for Saturday.
We decided to stop in at the Southern Utah Adventure Center in Hurricane and ask for trail recommendations. In the process, Taylor discovered that the bearings were completely gone on one of his trailer wheels. Over the next few days we learned a lot about the importance of regular wheel bearing maintenance and some nice emergency tricks to keep you moving. Luckily, a repair shop was able to get his wheel repaired before our drive back home.
We then checked into the mediocre Day’s Inn motel and ate a mediocre dinner at JB’s Restaurant. A soak in the mediocre hot tub helped soothe our sore muscles.
Fri. Mar. 29: Fort Pearce
The Barton’s drove down Thursday evening, so our group size increased for the major ride of our trip. We met up with Bob in Warner Valley, unloaded our bikes while Bob sat around waiting for us (he had to do that a lot).
Bob led us along some smaller side trails as we worked our way towards Fort Pearce – an old Mormon fort used to protect travelers going to or from the St. George Temple along the old Honeymoon Trail.
We explored the old fort ruins as well as some Indian pictographs chipped into the rocks along the edge of the wash. We then followed the Fort Pearce Ridge Trail that follows the wash towards St. George.
Eventually we turned south into Arizona and followed a portion of the Sunshine Trail. I have not been able to find out any information about the history of this trail.
The Sunshine Trail led us to a portion of the Temple Trail, used to haul lumber from Mount Trumbull to build the St. George Temple. Scott, Bob, and I turned south to explore the more rugged section of trail climbing up through Black Rock Canyon. There were some nice views to the south once we got up on top.
The rest of the group worked their way towards the car. They waited for us at the junction where the Honeymoon Trail climbs through a narrow gorge up onto the bluff. At this point we were back on the main road, so it was a quick cruise back to the car.
The road crossed the Cholla single track trail, which I was hoping to explore. It was getting late, so the bikes just peeled off the road and took half the single track trail back to the car while the ATVs continued down the road. Unfortunately, this trail is no longer a single trail – it has been overrun by folks on ATVs.
This ride totaled about 38 miles for most of the group, and about 45 miles for those that ventured up Black Rock Canyon. The trail had a fair amount of variety, with sandy washes, sandy whooped out sections, small ATV trails, old Jeep roads, and fairly nice gravel roads. Most of the ride was in Arizona, with Fort Pearce being near the state border. The scenery was not too bad for a barren desert, but not the greatest views in the world.
Sat. Mar. 30: Little Creek Mesa
Our “plan B” ride for Saturday turned out to be the favorite for most of the group. It was only 28 miles long, but worked out well since all but the Barton’s had to return back to Sandy that evening.
This ride is on the Little Creek Mesa just south of Gooseberry Mesa (where a lot of people enjoy mountain biking). It is quite a bit higher in elevation, so the temperatures were very pleasant and the trails were more interesting as they wound through the Juniper trees.
To get there we took Hwy 59 east out of Hurricane for about 20 miles. We turned off the highway about two miles before reaching Colorado City. A few miles up the dirt road we found a nice parking spot.
As we traveled west the road climbed in elevation, to a little over 5000’.
We ventured over to the eastern edge of the mesa and overlooked a steep and rocky switchback road climbing the mesa from that side. A portion of the trail is now gone due to the unfinished construction of a golf course – basically in the middle of nowhere. My guess is that the company building this course went bankrupt, since there was no activity in the area and the grass was a dull gray color.
We then rode around the mesa in a counter-clockwise direction. This was a fun ride – nothing too technical, but fun and scenic. It was made even more enjoyable for Jason and I as Bob tried to teach us how to “drift” on the turns. We never quite got it, and Jason even got to test his new chest protector when he crashed once.
Near the southwestern end we veered off the main road and ate lunch on the brink of the cliff, with gorgeous views to the west of Warner Valley and Sand Hollow.
On the return trip we decided to explore a smaller side road, which led us to a large slab of sandstone which we played around on for some time. Some of the group then discovered a pretty little pond and decided to take a refreshing (ice cold) swim. Unfortunately, Scott lost his glasses when he jumped in.
After the swim we continued our journey back to the cars. We loaded up and headed for home at about 3:30 in the afternoon. The Barton’s were fortunate to be able to stay for two more days. They had another fun day of riding and exploring Gooseberry Mesa and the old ghost town of Grafton.
This change of location worked out really well. We had great weather and explored some interesting trails and locations that I was unfamiliar with. And there are plenty of trails in the area still worth exploring.