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Antelope Island Biking

Antelope Island, in the middle of the Great Salt Lake, can be biked virtually year round.  Early spring and late fall are best.  In summer, ride the day after a rain storm -- the rain hardens the loose debris kicked up by horses on the trails. The White Rock Bay Loop ("Backcountry Loop") trailhead GPS is N 41 01.445' W 112 14.412'.

View west, showing the two geographic halves of the island -- younger rock on the north, old metamorphic rock on the south. May 18, 1998 by Bruce Argyle

On a short side-trip from the middle of the White Rock Bay loop, climb up to the ridgeline, where a rolling single-track takes you to Elephant Head with its spectacular view of Split Rock Bay.  From here, you can see the Split Rock Bay Loop trail, which is a nice add-on ride.

Dominic rides along the lake shore trail.

The mountainous south end of the island (seen on the left of the picture) is mostly dark highly-metamorphosed rock such as quartzite and schist from the Precambrian Era (3.5 to 0.5 billion years ago), while the north end is sedimentary rock such as Tufa, a conglomerate laid down by prehistoric Lake Bonneville. In between there's a band of lighter-colored quartzite -- about half a billion years younger than the Precambrian rock. The transition from light rock (for example, the quartzite in the photo below) to dark rock is abrupt.

View from Elephant Head, looking over Split Rock Bay.

The East Side Trail is singletrack curving along the eastern shore of the island. This is a flatter area, with views of the Wasatch Front. This trail is still being extended at the south end. To find the trailhead, fork left as you reach the island (near the marina). A tiny ways down the road, at the next fork, you'll find the trail on the left side of the road.

Antelope Island is a good early-season ride. Get there before the bugs, and while the foothill trails are still snow-covered or muddy. The rock near the tires is tufa, deposited by old Lake Bonneville.

In mid to late spring, you'll find plenty of biting bugs on Antelope Island, especially where the trail runs near the shoreline. Douse yourself liberally with bug repellent -- or be prepared to ride very fast without stopping. When taking the photo at left, I ventured about 50 feet off the trail, and was covered in mosquitoes before I could snap the picture.

Looking west on the White Rock Bay trail, as spires of Tintic Quartzite rise through the brush.  This rock dates from the Precambrian Era over a billion years ago. 

The Lakeside Trail is another excellent ride; 3 miles of curving single-track beginning at the camping area at Bridger Bay on the far north end of the island. The middle mile of the ride is insanely rocky and rates an "expert" in technical difficulty, but you can easily hike through the areas that make you nervous. You can ride the trail back, or head overland by dirt road. (Or, you can zip 1/2 mile down to the White Rock Bay trail!)

North (Bridger Bay) trailhead GPS N 41 02.394' W 112 15.727'. South (White Rock Bay) trailhead GPS N 41 01.669' W 112 15.060'.

Dominic Bria hits the Lakeside Trail.
Photo Bruce Argyle March 18, 1999.

One of Antelope Island's permanent residents eyeballs a biker.  Among the wildlife in this nature preserve are 900 bison.  The big guys aren't usually aggressive, but they are wild. And they're definitely BIG. Don't get close during the calving or breeding seasons.

May 18, 1998 by Bruce Argyle

There are overnight camping spots and picnic tables, and nice swimming beaches with bathrooms and shaded picnic areas. The visitor's center can sell you a Coke or a T-shirt, or teach you about the history and geology of the island.
Antelope Island Trail Map

Getting there: Just drive I-15 towards Syracuse (south of Ogden, north of Salt Lake City). Exit at the "Antelope Island" sign and turn west (away from the mountains, towards the lake). You'll be on Antelope Drive. Just drive west until you hit the lake. There's a $9 fee (as of 2010) that includes payment to use the causeway over the lake, and your admission to the state park. With payment of the fee, you'll receive a road and trail map of the island.

Map note: The arrows simply reflect the direction I originally rode the trails in 1998. Many riders prefer to do the White Rock Bay Loop and the Split Rock Bay Loop in a clockwise direction.

Riding resources for this trail:
One-page printable guide to this trail
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
      All GPX tracks Island   White Rock and Split Rock clockwise
      Elephant Head only    East Side only     Lakeside only
      Map datum WGS 84
Topo maps for printing:  Low-res   High-res
Lodging, camping, shops:
   Links to Ogden area resources

[Go to Trails Options Page]
Original review 1998, latest update 2010.
Copyright 2000 Mad Scientist Software Inc

For additional information, including nearby lodging, rentals, camping, and current conditions, may we suggest:
Camping, guides, rentals:  http://www.utah.com/stateparks/antelope_island.htm 
General info on all of Utah's State Parks:  http://www.stateparks.utah.gov/index.php

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