Repairing or upgrading your bike! Look for items on UMB site Discussion board for bike fanatics! Visit the UMB store!
Css Menu Javascript by Vista-Buttons.com v4.3.0

Bearclaw Poppy Trail
(historic Green Valley Trail)

The Bearclaw Poppy Trail lies southwest of St. George. It joins Green Valley to the west side of Bloomington, curving scenically around Bloomington Hill. You can ride it from either end as an out-and-back (11 miles round trip), or grab a few city streets to make an 11.5-mile loop.

You can also use this mountain bike trail as a piece of a much larger ride including Stucki Springs, or throw in the one-way westbound Bloomington Trail for variety on an out-and-back.

Picture: Gary and Brian Argyle stop to admire the scenery. Original review by Bruce August 1, 1998. Trail page last updated December 8, 2011.

This trail is a blast to ride. Highlights include a not-too-tough one-mile hill climb, a run down a desert wash, a series of short "scary but not too hairy" drop-offs, and a roller coaster hard-pack. It's the most popular trail in St. George.

View from the hill after you come up past the Green Valley Spa. Follow the dirt road down, to the left, then uphill to reach the parking for Bearclaw Poppy. Many bikers park right here to begin their ride. See the Zen and Racetrack pages. Photo December 2011.

You can ride this trail year-round. At an elevation of 2700 feet near the Arizona border, this trail never sees snow. However, during wet weather the clay can become saturated. Never ever ride or hike this trail after rainstorms! You'll damage the trail. And during the winter months, check with a local shop for current conditions.

The parking area is just to the right of the metal gate and trail kiosk. Keep heading uphill.

The Bearclaw Poppy lies in a special preserve area. The preserve protects the endangered Bearclaw Poppy. Absolutely DO NOT EVER ride off-trail. Don't follow other riders' illegal cheater tracks -- stay on the main path. If cyclists don't respect the preserve, we may find ourselves locked out. Really.

Bearclaw Poppy. Seriously, don't be a jerk. Stay on the trail, and don't ride when the ground is wet.

I'd rate the trail moderate aerobic and intermediate technical overall. If you don't stop to play, it's very quick ride -- one you can easily hammer in the morning before work or golf. If you start from the Bloomington end and turn around at Clavicle Hill -- which is my recommendation for kids -- it's easy aerobic and easy-beginner technical.

Dominic Bria reaches the top of the hill, nearing the water tank. The singletrack stepover gate will be to his left. Photo 2000.

From the Green Valley end, the trail starts with a modest one-mile warm-up climb along the side of a sandstone canyon. (That's if you ride to the trail from town. If you drive to the new parking area, you'll have only a short jaunt uphill. The step-over gate marks the border of the preserve, and the start of the singletrack.) Hilltop GPS N 37 05.162'  W 113 38.831'.

Bruce's Superfly 100 leans against the border of the preserve on December 8, 2011. Just downhill are the Three Fingers of Death! Let the fun begin.

The trail descends into a roller-coaster BMX course in red, white, and orange desert dirt. Right away, the singletrack drops downhill over a couple of little ledges. Beginners, remember to let the bike roll as you hit the scary stuff, then carefully brake after you're back on smooth trail.

Gary descends from the bluff towards the "Lion's Paw" or "Three Fingers of Death." After the Three Fingers of Death, the trail winds along the a wash (the dark streak at center right). Picture August 1, 1998

First the red stuff: the "Three Fingers of Death." Plunge down to the valley floor. Of the options here, the left "finger" is easier. To the right, the options get more scary. People get hurt here, so chose wisely based on your ability.

Or, hold to the right after the initial descent and find the singletrack "Flatline Trail" that winds around at a more leisurely pace. It will be on your right just before you reach the Three Fingers, and crosses the path down the Fingers. (This singletrack will be your uphill route if you're doing the ride as an out-and-back.)

Plan your route. Photo December 2011.

Next comes orange dirt: "the wash." Rock and roll across the desert on the firm wash bottom. Hit the sidewalls to add to the tech factor.

If you find wet dirt while in the wash, GO BACK. The clay that lies ahead will not heal if you damage it by riding while it's wet.

Winter's view down the Wash, heading southbound.

From the wash, the trail rolls over some more orange dirt before reaching the white clay of the "Acid Drops." You'll notice a couple of side routes. Stay on the main trail. Keep heading straight south-southwest. The first one on the left rejoins at the Acid Drops. The three routes heading right (north) join to form the Stucki Springs cutoff route. A side route on the right with multiple interconnectors and drops into a wash that parallels the Acid Drops. 

View from the top of the first Acid Drop.

The Acid Drops are pretty easy for intermediate riders. If you're a beginner, well, here's the secret. Get off the bike seat. Put all your weight on the pedals so your butt comes away from the seat. Let the bike tip down, while your trunk stays balanced upright. If you MUST brake, use only a tiny bit of rear brake. Ideally, just let the bike roll. After you absorb the "wump" at the bottom with your flexed legs, sit down and begin applying the brakes.

Looking north uphill from the bottom of a three-drop series. To the right is a climbing route (or an easier descending path).

The last of the Acid Drops is the dreaded Clavicle Hill! Yes, it's named after the body part that it breaks. (GPS N 37 04.209'  W 113 39.299') Experts, go ahead and take some air off the rock ledge at the top.

Intermediates, pick the rock-free line and let it roll. Don't over-brake, or you'll pitch over the handlebars.

Dominic rolls Clavicle Hill in 2000.

 

Beginners, there are two cheater routes around the hill. As you approached Clavicle Hill, there was one on your left about 150 feet back from the edge. (This is the path that most riders will take when riding from the Bloomington end or when returning on an out-and-back. It IS possible to ride straight up Clavicle Hill. But I've never succeeded at it.)

Darren Harris heads up Clavicle Hill in this January 2010 photo. The Acid Drop section offers some challenges when ridden south-to-north.

 

As you come to the bottom of Clavicle Hill, turn left toward the mountain and pick up the continuing Bearclaw Poppy Trail. There's another drop just below Clavicle Hill, also with a trail turning left to Bearclaw at the bottom. Straight ahead would take you to the Stucki Springs trail and the Bloomington Microloop. (There are also trails heading to the right, which can take you to Snakepit Rim or the Stucki cutoff.)

The trail will curve closely around the Moenkopi skirts of the mesa, Bloomington Hill. If you find yourself away from the mesa in rolling desert at this point, you probably missed your turn. (Note: some riders become confused by the carsonite trail markers, which say "Bearclaw Poppy" on the top, even if those markers are located on the Stucki Springs or Bloomington Microloop trails. The whole area is the Bearclaw Poppy preserve.)

Kristen leads cousin Savannah westbound on Bearclaw Poppy in 1999.

Now it's on to the rolling white clay south of Bloomington Hill -- the "Roller Coaster." The trail rock 'n rolls through hard-packed desert dirt. Awesome! Keep on the main trail at all times. Resist the temptation to "explore" -- whether on foot or bike -- because you're in the desert preserve. Go only on MARKED alternates.

Authorized alternate routes are designated with carsonite markers.

In the winter, the temperature is usually nice for a couple of hours in the afternoon. I ride this trail in shirt-sleeves in January. During the summer, it's best to go early in the morning. If you start your ride by 7 a.m., you'll enjoy pleasant temperatures.

If you have younger children, I suggest you take them to the Bloomington trailhead, where they can ride the tamer stretches of white clay trail on the Bloomington end.

Savannah (white helmet, Dominic's daughter) and Kristen (right, Bruce's daughter) enjoy the rolling clay trail on a warm late-winter's day. March 5, 1999.

Just for fanatics? NOT! The valley floor is shale of the Chinle formation of the late Triassic. During that time (about 220 million years ago), this corner of Utah was covered by shallow sea. The sea gave way to red mud-flat and flood deposits of the Moenave formation. The bluffs are capped with lava flowing from volcanoes of the late Cenozoic. The volcanoes in this area are an extension of the northern Arizona volcanic field, and were very active around 8 million years ago. 

Kristen (age 10) rides along the edge of a wash below the cliffs of Bloomington Hill. March 1999.

As the trail reaches Bloomington, you can turn around and do it all backwards, or take the city streets six miles back to the trail head. Be sure to catch the petroglyphs just past the end of the trail in west Bloomington.

Picture: Brian poses in front of ancient rock carvings. August 1, 1998

Buff biker and petroglyphs

Riding notes, from Green Valley:
From end of pavement N37 05.516 W113 37.673
0.0  Go R 100 yards, turn L downhill
       N37 05.568 W113 37.709
0.1  At bottom, veer L 100 yards,
       then R to cross valley
0.3  Pass Zen trailhead, keep straight and climb
       N37 05.433 W113 37.893
0.5  Parking
From parking lot on hill:
0.0  Around gate, uphill on DT
       N37 05.338 W113 38.432
0.4  Pass Barrell ST on L, veer R
       Step over gate to Bearclaw ST
       N37 05.173 W113 38.826
0.5  Flat area, descend Three Fingers of Death
       N37 05.119 W113 38.856
0.6  Straight and drop into Wash
       N37 05.051 W113 38.781
1.1  Keep straight (R = to Stucki cutoff)
       N37 04.790 W113 39.054
1.3  Keep R (L = alternate, rejoins)
       N37 04.598 W113 39.130
1.4  Keep straight (full R = to Stucki cutoff)
       N37 04.543 W113 39.175
       (soft R = alternate line, rejoins vs down wash)
1.5-1.6 Various alternate lines, keep straight
       (to Stucki cutoff at N37 04.369 W113 39.238)
1.7  Straight (R = to Stucki cutoff)
       N37 04.290 W113 39.273
1.8  Clavicle Hill, straight off
       N37 04.220 W113 39.297
1.8  Left at bottom, head southwest
       N37 04.214 W113 39.291
       Straight = to Stucki Springs or B.Microloop
       R = to Snakepit Rim vs Stucki cutoff
1.85 Keep straight N37 04.208 W113 39.258
       (L = back to top)
2.9  Alternate lines, select (R = easier)
       N37 03.648 W113 38.392
3.3  Alternate lines N37 03.463 W113 38.058
3.5  Alternate lines N37 03.403 W113 37.898
3.9  Straight (B.Microloop joins on R)
       N37 03.224 W113 37.507
4.0  Veer R to parking N37 03.204 W113 37.373
4.1  Stepover gate for Bloomington parking
       N37 03.130 W113 37.355
Green Valley Trial Map Getting there, Green Valley: Take the Bluff Street I-15 exit in St. George and turn west. Immediately turn south (left) at the first light. Go over the hill and at the T intersection at the bottom of the hill turn right. Head northwest about two miles on Dixie Drive. Turn left at Canyon View Road, heading uphill toward the Green Valley Spa. (If you reach a "Green Valley Market" with gas pumps, you just passed it. Turn around and backtrack to the second road on your right.) Drive past the spa onto dirt at the end of the road. Turn right at the top of the mesa, then immediately left to drive down into the deep valley. You can park here and ride to the road that climbs the RIGHT side of the little sandstone canyon. Or, you can stay in your car and turn right on dirt, then drop left down into the valley 100 yards later. Follow the improved gravel road up to the parking area about 3/4 mile later. Trailhead N 37 05.509'  W 113 37.689'
Bloomington:  Go to the west end of Navajo Drive in Bloomington. Go across the cattle guard. See the low rail on the fence 100 feet to your right? That's the trailhead, at N 37 03.116'  W 113 37.362'.  I recommend that youngsters go to the Bloomington end of the trail! 
Riding resources for the Bearclaw Poppy Trail:
Printable, one-page riding guide
Larger detail maps for printing:   Bearclaw    Plus Stucki Springs
      Area map, including connections to Barrel Roll area

St.George southwest, interactive map:  Load 
Track files (to download, right-click and select "Save target as..."):
    Area GPX tracks (includes side routes)     Major trails (Bearclaw, Stucki, B.Micro, SnakePit)
    Specific rides, course file:
      Bearclaw track only 
      Bearclaw-Stucki Loop from Green Valley   Bearclaw-Stucki-Snakepit Loop from GV
      CoveWash-Stucki-Bearclaw big loop ride from Canyon View Drive
      Bloomington-Snakepit-SouthStucki-Bearclaw figure 8 from Bloomington
      Bloomington-Bearclaw little loop from Bloomington
    Other tracks:  Bloomington Microloop only   Stucki only, from Bearclaw

Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to St. George area resources

Original review 1998.
Copyright 2000 UtahMountainBiking.com, a division of Mad Scientist Software Inc
Latest update 2011.