A few of my work colleagues decided to head down to Saint George to escape the winter blues in Salt Lake City and enjoy some dirt bike adventures. Over the next few weeks, the trip morphed numerous times as the group grew in size. In the end, we had three separate groups on Friday, but we all combined for a large group ride on Saturday.
Ross Vellinga led a group of five dual-sport riders (Danny Lunt, Scott Conners, Ralph, and Zach) on a 190 mile adventure out to Toroweap on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. That is a ride I would like to do, but not as my first ride of the season, and perhaps spread out over two days.
Bob Dawson and Bruce Jones drove down early Friday morning and explored ATV trails and washes in the Curly Hollow area, just southwest of Bloomington.
A friend allowed us to use their condo in Green Valley, so my family (Kim, Kevin, and Jamie) drove down Thursday evening so we could enjoy a full day of riding on Friday. Jamie’s friend Jon Lawley also joined us. We were also in the Curly Hollow area.
Jamie actually rode in the Curly Hollow area several years ago, but she didn’t remember much about the area. On this trip, Jamie got to break in our new KTM 350 Six Days.
We rode a 40 mile loop on mostly easy dirt roads. Our ride included a spur down to the Virgin River and a spur to an overlook high above the river gorge. The road back to the car turned out to be pretty rough. The trail followed a dry wash with numerous bowling ball sized rocks.
Here is a video clip of the days ride:
There were two spots along the Cottonwood Wash trail where Kim requested some help. I rode the quad up out of steep wash embankment, and Jamie rode it down a series of rocky ledges. I ended up dropping my bike in these ledges because I picked a bad line and got into some loose rocks.
Jamie had a high-speed crash through this section. She fell left and scraped her left arm and elbow, but somehow managed to bruise her right knee. I suspect she must have clipped the handlebar on her way down. Luckily she was wearing knee guards, although I think it is time to upgrade to some higher quality ones.
Jamie was disappointed on Saturday morning that her knee was so swollen. She decided that it would be too risky to ride, so she opted to stay in the condo and do the homework she needed to get done. Kevin was also stiff and sore and somehow had a jammed a thumb, so he decided to stay at the condo and do his homework. Kim feared the Goldstrike ride would be fairly challenging and long and she didn’t want to hold up the larger group, so she decided to also stay at the condo. This may be the first time our family had a vacation where they actually just sat around and relaxed. I hope they were bored 😉
So, Jon and I headed off to the Goldstrike trailhead where Bob and Bruce camped for the night. We met Ross’ group at the turnoff to the trailhead. We were all there on schedule ready to ride by about 10:30 AM. We had a total of nine in our group.
This ride turned out to be much easier than I expected. I assumed the trail would be a rough ATV trail with numerous wash crossings, but for the most part it was a fast and fun cruise. Like yesterday’s ride, the roughest part was the last section, but it wasn’t even very difficult. This ended up being about a 50 mile loop.
The trailhead is 0.9 miles up a dirt road in Tobin Wash, just north of the town of Gunlock. Our plan was to ride a diamond shaped loop around Square Top Mountain. The first leg of the journey followed Grapevine Wash as it quickly gained in elevation. There were a few wash crossings that could be problematic after a heavy rain storm, but the roads were all in good repair. Here is a video of our ride:
Grapevine gained a lot more elevation than I expected, but it was a fun ride with some nice views.
We took a detour and tried to find the actual Goldstrike Mine. I had a waypoint on my GPS, but I couldn’t find a mine near my waypoint. There were a few other mines in the area, and some of them were quite large. I don’t know which one was Goldstrike.
We first rode a side spur north until we came to a locked gate, and then south until we came to an old hillbilly style cabin where the road has been washed out. So we back tracked to the main road and cruised south towards the easy dirt road to Motoqua.
We saw a few other dirt bikers down in a wash, so we decided to explore that area to experience something a little more challenging than the dirt roads we had been on.
After getting back onto the main road I told Ross I would go ahead and find a nice place to eat lunch. I found a nice oasis until a large shade tree and enjoyed a nice quite lunch all by myself. I wondered what was taking everyone so long.
I figured that either someone had a break down, or they took a wrong turn. I considered back tracking to where I last saw the group, but figured if they took a wrong turn, I would likely miss them. So I decided to venture on to the start of the next GPS route on the Motoqua road, knowing that Ross had the same GPS routes that I did. I knew they would eventually have to come that way. I stopped on top of a small knoll and scanned the horizon for any sign of them.
I pulled out my cell phone and found that I had service. I tried to call Ross, but just got his answering machine. I then tried Bob and got the same. I then called my wife at the condo to let her know that everyone else was lost. While talking to her, I noticed two bikes coming down the road in the distance. I found them!
We decided to go back where the rest of the group ate lunch and fanned out searching for me (not realizing that they were the ones that were lost). I took the opportunity to ride Ross’ KLR 650 along this easy dirt road. It was easier to ride than I expected, but his worn out rear tire made the back end slide on corners more easily than I like.
Everyone seemed to have a different theory of what happened to me. Some feared the worst. It reminded me of an old post card I saw years ago, which read; “I hope I am not waiting here for someone that is waiting for me somewhere else”.
The road to Motoqua is a bomber road. You could easily go 70+ mph if you wanted to. We buzzed down the road anxious to make up lost time and then turned north on the road to Manganese Spring. This road was a little more interesting than the rest of the loop. I thought this might be a tough section, but most of it was in really good shape. The trail had more twists and turns than the rest of the ride, and it had numerous hill climbs and descents. Rather than follow the natural contour lines, the road went fairly straight with numerous short side spurs to power poles along the route. Some sections had lots of small, loose rocks, but it wasn’t all that difficult.
Upon returning to the trailhead, Jon and I loaded up and headed back to Saint George. I suspect Bob and Bruce explored more trails near their camp before heading to Beaver for another day of riding.
Ross and some of his party rode their dual-sport bikes from the condo where they stayed, and on their return ride they took an interesting dirt road from Saint George to Leeds. They ended up clocking in at about 160 miles for the day. Not bad after doing 190 the day before.
My family quickly cleaned the condo, loaded the car, and headed for home, arriving at about 9:00 PM, with just enough time to unload the car and trailer before going to bed.
I now have a better understanding of why everyone seems to head to Saint George during the winter. It was really nice to enjoy temperatures in the low 70s in the middle of February. There are ATV trails and dirt roads everywhere, so it will take a lot of future trips to explore them all. I would say that the Saint George area is a dual-sport bikers paradise!