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
||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
||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
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
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.
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.
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.