When most people think of mountain biking in Utah, what comes to mind are the classic red slickrock trails of Moab. But while there is undeniably some fantastic mountain biking to be had in Moab (I’m looking at you Porcupine Ridge), there are tons of other epic mountain bike destinations in Utah. Enter Hurricane – pronounced ‘Her-ah-kun’ by the locals.
I’d actually never even heard of this little town before until I met my friend Adam this past May while visiting my brother and sister-in-law just north of Bishop, CA. We met, of course, on a ride via a mutual friend and after a few fun jaunts together down Lower Rock Creek and some high speed downhill at Mammoth Mountain, I was initiated into his little circle of mountain biking friends. Yay! Mountain biking is not really a sport to be done solo (depending on your style of biking, it can be pretty high stakes), so it’s alway nice to make new mountain biking friends that can call 911 in case of a crash. Just kidding. Kind of.
Anyway, every year Adam and co drive out to Hurricane for a week of mountain biking fun over the Thanksgiving holiday. This year, he invited me along and of course I said yes. I was a bit nervous at first because I’d never done a big destination mountain bike trip like this before, but holy moly, I’m so glad that I went. It was a blast! The riding was epic, the people were amazing, the weather couldn’t have been better, and I definitely level-upped in the skills department. Goat lunges, reasonable jumps, and moderate drops are all easy peasy now. All around, it was an amazing week and I can’t wait to return next year!
Here's a little guide on the trails we rode.
These are by far the easiest trails of the Hurricane mountain biking network. They’re a good morning warm up if you plan on doing a few full days of biking, but if you’re looking to jump right into the good stuff, you’re not missing much if you leave these out. Alternatively, if you’re a beginner, the Jem trails are a fantastic place to practice - there are a few minor technical rocky sections but for the most part the trails are flat, a little flowy, and can help build strength and stamina.
Suggested route: Start at Virgin Dam parking area then turn right on the Hurricane Rim trail. After 2 miles take a sharp right onto Jem Trail for 4,000 ft then left onto Cryptobionic. Follow straight to Goosebumps then left onto Jem Trail again. Slight left onto Deadringer then back onto Jem to China Town Wash to Hurricane Rim.
14.5 miles | 2,100 ft of climbing | 2,100 ft of descent
This network is one step up from the Jem trails in terms of skills required, but the riding is still pretty mellow. No major climbs or descents, but there are some rock gardens to navigate through, a bit of exposure, and lots of fun twists and turns through scrubby brush. The views of the surrounding mountains and mesas are also outstanding. Do two loops if you're up for it!
Suggested route: Wire Mesa is really just one big loop that can be ridden in both directions. I recommend riding clockwise because I haven't tried it the other way.
7 miles | 1,400 ft climbing | 1,400 ft descent
This is my favorite network in Hurricane. I love, love, love all of the Guacamole trails from the rock riding on Margarita to the singletrack of Holy Guacamole. And if you do the whole loop plus the side loops, it’s a pretty big day - around 10+ miles. It’s definitely more technical territory here too, with goat lunges up onto rocks, good sized drops, narrow chutes, and lots of little side routes to explore.
Suggested route: This is a lollipop loop. Start at the trailhead parking then follow Margarita to Salt on the Rim. Rejoin Margarita then take a left onto Guacamole. Follow straight onto Lime then turn left onto Holy Guacamole. Complete loop by taking Lime to Guacamole. Return to car either via Margarita or Salt on the Rim again.
10.7 miles | 1,489 ft climbing | 1,489 ft descent
Gooseberry is another great network that is pretty similar to Guacamole: full of fun rock riding, narrow singletrack along the edge of the high mesa, and fun features to practice. The highlight on this ride, though, is getting out to Gooseberry Point. The narrow peninsula awards amazing 360° views of the surrounding area. If you have a drone, this is the place to fly it.
Suggested route: Start at the Gooseberry Mesa parking lot and take South Rim to the left. After a few miles turn off onto Secret Trail. Either continue straight back onto South Rim or take Hidden Canyon through to the While Trail fire road. Turn left and head up to Gooseberry Point. On the return, take North Rim to Bowls and Ledges to Practice which will land you back at the parking lot.
17.1 miles | 2,905 ft climbing | 2,905 ft descent
Lazy money, Show Me The Money, and Grafton
I loved Show Me The Money and More Money. They are definitely more advanced trails, so proceed with caution, but they are super fun and just the right amount of challenging. We rode them after Wire Mesa, so we didn't explore the other trails around (like Dig It or Grafton Mesa), but I'll be back to do these ones again, for sure.
Suggested route: From Wire Mesa take the 'undisclosed trail' to Lazy Money then follow it downhill to Show Me The Money. Keep left to get on More Money then stay right until you hit Grafton Mesa Road. There's options here. We just road back up the fire road, but you could continue down Grafton Mesa or bike up the Meanderthon and Dig It single track. I have a feeling both are better as downs, though.
7.4 miles | 897 ft climbing | 897 ft descent
Little Creek Mesa
It’s a commitment to get out to Little Creek, but the riding there is worth it especially if you camp out overnight. The trails are pretty similar to Gooseberry - lots of fun rock riding, little punchy ups, flowy singletrack through trees and shrubs - but it’s not as well marked as the other networks and it’s easy to get turned around. Bring a GPS!
Suggested route: Start at the small parking area at the end of Little Creek Mesa Road then find the Little Creek Mesa trail off to the left. Follow it all the way around to the LCM Connect/waterfall trail. This is a fun little challenge! At the bottom of the waterfall take a left onto Little Creek Slick then follow straight through and around on North Point. Finish the ride on Magic Carpet and return to parking area.
13.1 miles | 2,467 ft climbing | 2,467 ft descent
Santa Clara River Reserve
These trails are located about 20 minutes outside of Hurricane near the town of St. George and honestly they’re not my favorite. Suicidal Tendencies is a lollipop with lots of tight switchbacks, loose scree, and a somewhat of a fun descent, but not really worth the hot, technical climbs in my opinion. Barrel Roll is about the same. If you're bored with Hurricane's networks, you could come check these trails out but if you only have a few days of riding, I would stay over there.
Suggested route: Start at the Cove Wash parking lot. At the trailhead stay left to follow Precipice up. Turn left onto Sidewinder then drop into Suicidal Tendencies. Do the lollipop loop then climb back up the switchbacks. Stay left at the fork to meet up with barrel roll and take the loop back to the car.
16.4 miles | 3,011 ft climbing | 3,011 ft descent
BONUS: Cedar City
If you have the time and you want to enjoy some fun, technical downhill, I highly recommend checking out the trails in Cedar City, about an hour drive north of Hurricane. Hurricane’s networks are great and all, but after a few days of riding the mostly flat (albeit challenging) trails, it’s nice to get some elevation change, which you’ll definitely find in Cedar City. The two trails we did (in one day) were the C Trail Network and Blowhard. I loved them both, but Blowhard was truly a blast. Both rides require a car drop.
Suggested route: For the first downhill of the day, start at the top of the C Trail then stay left to get on Highlands. Keep going straight to get on Green Hollow then bear left for the fun, flowy descent of Lava Flow. I couldn't get the Ride Planner on Trailforks to work for these trails, but you can find a map here. For Blowhard, it's just one, long downhill ride. Let it rip!
Blowhard: 6.7 miles | 505 ft climbing | 3,545 ft descent
WHERE TO SLEEP
There is plenty of free camping and car camping in the BLM land surrounding Hurricane. You can pretty much set up shop wherever there looks to be a good spot. We slept near the trails we’d be riding the next day so we could just wake up and ride. There are facilities near some trailheads, but for the most part it’s primitive camping so make sure you bring plenty of water, cooking equipment, and tp.
WHERE TO EAT
Dixie Pizza Wagon: located in a parking lot off of State Street, these guys make some awesome wood fired pizzas. There's only outdoor seating and waits can be long, so be prepared. Only open wed-sun and they take call-ins
LL Wagon Tack: parked in the same parking lot as Dixie Pizza Wagon, these guys make some mean Mexican food. Tasty and filling, it's the perfect spot after a full day of riding. Only open wed-sat
Main Street Cafe: the burgers are delicious! There's also a cute outdoor seating area to enjoy your meal
River Rock Roasting Company: serving all meals plus great coffee and craft beers, this place is awesome. Pastries and quiche for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and pizza or big salads for dinner
Centro Wood Fired Pizza: if you make it up to Cedar City for some downhill, definitely eat at this pizza place. Great pizzas, huge salads, and fantastic beer selection
Over The Edge Sports: a full service bike shop in Hurricane run by friendly staff. You can also take a shower there for $5.
Sand Hollow State Park: this stunning state park is a bit of a drive from the trail networks above Hurricane, but if you're going down into town before dinner take a quick detour here to cool off and rinse the sweat and dirt off your body. There is a $10 per car entrance fee, but it's worth it at least once!