Photo: Andrew Meehan

 

This season snow fall totals in the Wasatch Mountains have been none existent.  With only about 200 inches total snow fall this season, when normally we would be in the upper 300 to 400 inch range, coverage is thin.  To add to that it is the 5th warmest winter on record for Utah.  Since early January, the crew has been closely watching the temps and weather for southern Utah.  Pulling up the weather and seeing the daytime temps reaching almost into the 70 degree mark, it was time to rally the troops for some desert riding.

 

 

We packed up the rig and hit the road.  Rolling into virgin we set up camp at the old (original) Rampage site.  Its a great place to camp, right alone North Creek (until it rains a lot and the creek floods).  This spot puts you in the center of the riding in the area.  In early Febuary, you will have the place almost entirely to yourself.  Being right across from the old rampage site makes it a great place for some evening shred laps as well. 

 

The first day we fueled up on some great coffee and breakfast from Cafe Soliel, just in Springdale.  It was awesome seeing the town so sleepy and mellow.  If you have ever been here during the peak tourist season for Zion National park you can greatly appreciate the off season down here.  We stopped into Zion Cycles, loaded up some extra bike tubes and got the trail recon from Fred.  This is a great shop and should be your go to if you need anything cycle related, or just want to go shoot the shit. 

 

Photo: Andrew Meehan

 

 

Geared for the day we headed out to the Gooseberry Mesa.  The riding here is phenomenal.  Technical, is the best way to describe it.  These trails never really gain a lot of elevation, but you will be on your pedals the entire time trying to tame this slick rock.  Don't want to dive in head first to the technical?  Start out on the practice trail.  Its a great warm up for the more difficult mesa trails.  We put down a quick and windy 9 mile loop that left us all feeling pretty stoked.  It felt so good to be in the sun and on our bikes.  Winter seemed like a distant fleeting memory, in which we were all glad to escape. 

 

Photo: Andrew Meehan

 

The second day we opted for flow.  We shuttled up to the top of the Jem trail just outside of Hurricane, Utah.  Jem is a fast flowy down right fun ride.  You can ride many various loops there and or shuttle some more down hill-ish trails too.  There are new trails going in here every year so make sure you stop in and talk to the guys at Zion Cycles to get the latest info.  The bottom of the JEM trail has a hidden secret, you round a corner and ride along a awesome canyon that the virgin river has carved through the landscape.  You will not be disappointed in the views that this trail offers. 

 

 

Photo: Andrew Putt

Photo: Andrew Meehan

 

For this trip we only took trail bikes, but there is a lot of great dh riding here too.  This is the birth place of big mountain freeride.  Rampage is the biggest event of the year for big mountain riding and this is its home.  Flying monkey, King Kong, the old rampage site, grafton mesa and nephi's twist are all stomping grounds for big bikes. This place is a two bike trip if you have the luxury of having both, take both bikes with you. 

 

With the weather out look still not looking wintery in the Wasatch something tells me we will be loading up again soon and hitting the road. 

Photo: Andrew Meehan