Kanab – Mar 2015

Jamie wanted to go somewhere different this year for spring break, so we decided to go to Kanab, Utah. I had heard about two trails that sounded interesting; Hog Canyon and the Mail Drop Loop. But as I researched them, I found that they consisted of a lot of deep, soft sand. To be blunt – we don’t like sand. I think these trails would be really fun on an ATV or RZR, but they are brutal on a dirt bike. So I began looking for alternate trails.

Peek-A-Boo (Thur. Mar 19)

There is a small slot canyon just north of Kanab that the locals call “Peek-A-Boo”. Most maps list it as “Red Canyon”. We parked at the trailhead labeled “45-TH” on the following map.

Peek-A-Boo GPS track ~47 miles

Peek-A-Boo GPS track ~47 miles

The trail goes northeast from the parking area until you drop into Red Canyon. You then follow the wash to the west until you come to the beginning of the slot canyon. The slot canyon is a nice easy hike that is only about ¼ mile long.

Jamie is ready to ride

Like most of the trails near Kanab, this area is very sandy. We thought we would give it a try since it is only about 3.5 miles to the slot canyon. That would give us a chance to see how bad the sand was and then we could decide which trails to ride during our three-day vacation.

Even riding downhill is challenging

The sand was not as bad as I expected – it was worse. This is probably the deepest and softest sand I have ever ridden in. The trail had numerous ATV and truck ruts, so it was almost impossible to steer.

Jamie kicking up roost

A few short sections of the trail weren’t too bad, while other sections were extremely deep and soft. We both struggled along and made it okay without any crashes. But it was a real workout – even going downhill.

Once you drop into the wash the trail is much easier to ride. The wash bottom has thicker sand and gravel, so you can get some traction.

Dee at the slot canyon trailhead

The hike through the slot is very easy and short. It would be a great hike for young children.

Jamie entering the slot canyon

Peek-A-Boo slot canyon

Riding back to the car was much more difficult because we had to plow our way up hill. We stopped a few times to rest, but we both made it okay.

Once we got back to the car we grabbed our jackets and headed out on a dual-sport ride to explore the area without dealing with more sand.

We first rode around the loop containing the “Best Friends Animal Shelter”. I was totally surprised at how large this animal shelter was. There are several buildings, each dedicated to different kinds of animals. There is a home for dogs, puppies, cats, birds, horses, and probably many more. This was a very interesting and scenic little loop.

We then headed southwest on Hancock Road, which took us out to Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Jamie was three years old last time we were here, so she didn’t remember it at all. For that matter, I didn’t remember much either. We didn’t pay to enter the park and we had no interest in riding in the sand, but we did stop at a few viewpoints to enjoy the scenery.

Taking a break at Coral Pink Sandy Dunes

To add variety of our ride, we rode back on CR43 to Hwy 89. Both Hancock and CR43 were nice leisurely rides, but once we hit Hwy 89 the tension rose quickly. Our dirt bikes are fairly comfortable up to about 55 mph, but they get sketchy beyond that. Luckily we only got passed by one vehicle on our way back to the car, but those few miles of high-speed pavement reminded us why we like riding in the dirt.

After loading up the trailer and changing clothes, we headed into town and had a nice dinner at the Rocking V restaurant and then checked into our motel and had a nice soak in the hot tub.

Toroweap (Fri. Mar. 20)

Friday was our only full day of riding, so our plan was to ride out to Toroweap (about 60 miles) and back. My wife and I camped out there last year with our Jeep, but I wanted to try the ride on our dirt bikes. Note that to enter Grand Canyon National Park you need to have a street legal bike.

We were concerned that the road may be too muddy since they had a large snow storm in this area about one month earlier. We also worried that there would be huge ruts, making the ride fairly dangerous. But we found that the roads had been recently graded and they were in excellent condition. There was a light layer of loose gravel on top, but we found we could generally average about 40 mph and feel quite safe.

Toroweap GPS track ~160 miles

Toroweap GPS track ~160 miles

We decided to ride out on the Sunshine Trail (CR109) which starts about six miles west of Fredonia. This is the most popular route for cars and trucks, so we feared it might have a lot of wash board and dust, but the trail wasn’t too bad. The biggest struggle was just the length of the road – almost 50 miles before the trail gets interesting.

Jamie starting down the Sunshine Trail (CR109)

Along the way, Jamie called me on the radio and told me there were some wild horses. They crossed the road just before I got there and ran off to the south. They were too fast for me to pull out my camcorder, but I recorded a glimpse of them on my helmet camera.

A short time later Jamie spotted antelope along the side of the road. We both stopped to take some pictures, and they stopped to look at us. As we rode off, the antelope started running again and ran over the top of the hill and down the other side. The road went around the hill, so the antelope ran full speed across the road right in front of me. That was quite a sight.


To break up the monotony, we took a detour down a side spur into Hack Canyon. We didn’t go all the way to the end of the road, but it was a fun ride down the canyon. I think the road leads to a hiking trailhead of some kind. I was surprised that this road had also been recently graded.

For further variety, I found a side trail that would bypass a portion of the main route (shown in red on the map). We started up this side trail, but it had a lot of deep ruts and we came to a closed gate. Since it was getting late we decided to stick with the main road so we could enjoy lunch out on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Jamie entering Grand Canyon National Park

Once you enter the National Park the road starts to get rougher, with the roughest section right at the end. It is about 7 miles from the park boundary to the rim, and this portion was really fun on a dirt bike. This is the section that most people don’t like in their trucks or Jeeps.

Toroweap overlook

We passed one truck just before we got to the rim, so we were the only ones there. We enjoyed our lunch break at a picnic table in the shade under a tree. After lunch we explored the rim and took some pictures. The view is certainly worth the long ride!

Looking up river

Looking west, with Lava Falls in the background

We took the Clayhole Road for our return trip. This road goes basically due north and comes out near Colorado City. In order to avoid some pavement, we wanted to take a shortcut on the Navajo Trail (shown in red) or CR241 (shown in orange). We could see the Navajo Trail going west, but found no trace of it going east. We started down CR241 but it didn’t seem like a very well-traveled road. We soon came to a gate and decided we had better turn back. We didn’t know if the road was open to the public since it passes through private property and perhaps Indian Reservation land. If this shortcut would have worked it would have saved us about 15 miles of pavement.

We had to ride about 20 miles of pavement to get back to the car. This was the scariest part of the trip. I let Jamie set the pace and she pushed it at about 60 mph almost the whole way back. Thus, it was about 20 minutes of high tension riding. Luckily we only had about four vehicles that had to pass us. There was a lot of traffic going west, but only a few cars going our way.

We rode a total of about 160 miles. Most of it was easy, but it was still a very tiring day. We quickly went back to the motel for a soak in the hot tub, a shower, and then a late dinner at the Three Bears Café across the street from our motel.

Little Creek Mesa (Sat. Mar. 21)

After the long ride on Friday, I feared we might be too stiff and sore to enjoy another day of riding, but we actually felt pretty good. Jamie said; “we came here to ride, so let’s ride”. That’s my girl!

A few years early a few families did a fun ride on Little Creek Mesa, which is in between Hurricane and Colorado City. Jamie was not able to make that trip, so I thought she might enjoy this ride.

We rode almost the same loop as last time, but this time we went clockwise (shown in orange) instead of counter-clockwise (shown in dashed blue).

Little Creek Mesa GPS track ~30 miles

Little Creek Mesa GPS track ~30 miles

I made one wrong turn which led us out to a cliff edge. I thought we might have a nice view from the edge, but the trail turned before we got there. So we back tracked and returned to the main loop. I took the spur to show Jamie where Scott and Bob took a cold swim last time we were here.

On the west edge of the mesa there are a view nice spurs to viewpoints overlooking Warner Valley, Sand Hollow, and Saint George.

Sand Hollow in the background

We continued on our loop and enjoyed lunch overlooking the abandoned golf course below the radio towers (LCTop).

Above the abandoned golf course

At LC6 rather than stay on the main road we took a rougher road that followed the rim. This road had some sandstone sections with some significant ledges. It wasn’t too hard for Jamie or me, but the families that were with us last time probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it.

At LCTop there is a trail that goes down the face of the cliff with several tight switchbacks. This looks like a very rough and rocky road.

This loop was about 30 miles long. We finished early, which gave us time to drive home and wash the bikes before dark. This ride was very fun. It had a lot of twists and turns through the trees and a few rocky sections to keep you on your toes, but nothing too difficult or scary. It was a nice relaxing ride in comparison to the two previous days – a great way to end a great trip!


About gardinerfamilyadventures

A really great family!
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