The Bluff Street Cliffs trail has been renamed Owen's Trail.
This is a short but fun expert-level ride on the cliffs along
the north edge of St. George. Owen's Trail is a quick out-and-back lariat ride of 3 miles
each way) that features some very nice rock.
Singletrack leading up to the first rock
challenge. Original review May 4, 2000, with updates by Bruce
in 2008, 2017, and 2021.
The trail requires good technical
skills. There's a lot of rough rock -- some so tough and steep that you'll carry your
bike at least a couple of times. It's for expert riders only.
Because it's within a couple of
bicycle-minutes from most of St. George's motels, you can hit this trail during the
morning chill and be back before your roommates have shaken off the morning
Bruce rolls above Bluff Street on the little loop at
the end of Owen's Trail.
This trail is used by hikers for the fabulous views and the rock-scrambling.
It's not likely you'll see another bike rider there, because well, this
trail has a high techy-tricky to cruising ratio.
Looking north over the golf course to the Pine Valley
Owen's Trail can be reached via several connector trails. The
most direct route is from the Pioneer Park parking on the north side of
the Red Cliffs Parkway. Take the trail under the parkway then turn right
(uphill) on the paved Red Cliffs Parkway Trail. Shortly after crossing
Skyline Drive, Owen's Trail begins at a step-over on your left.
View south as the trail turns from the west Pioneer
Park parking area and descends under Red Cliffs Parkway.
The trail begins as a dirt single-track.
Keep right and uphill as connectors join from streets below. Continue up
onto the slickrock. About 1/3 mile up the trail, you'll need to pack your bike up a rocky
chute. Once on the rock, the trail isn't too hard to follow. When in
doubt, keep your eyes open
for the rockpiles that mark the way.
Bruce climbs away
from the city in this May 2017 photo.
Most of the rock in the St. George area is from the late Triassic to early
Jurassic Era (the early age of the dinosaurs, around 200 million years ago).
This area was a flat plain near the seashore, so most of rock is layered from
successive deposits of dirt and rock laid down by floods in river flood-plains
and deltas. You'll climb from the valley bottom Chinle shale, through the red
multi-layered Moenkopi formation, to the capping layer of Kayenta Sandstone that
forms the broad bluff.
Intermediates will usually manage this trail, but
will likely walk through a significant number of little tech challenges.
At GPS N 37° 07.206' W 113° 35.332', keep left at the fork (right
loops up to the ridgetop and the City Creek Trail, with links to the highway).
If you notice a second fork at GPS N 37° 07.353' W 113° 35.420', keep left.
(Forking hard right goes to the bottom of a wash 1/2 mile later. There
also used to be a route straight over the top here. If bikes start riding
it again, you might notice another route heading uphill.)
west as the trail gets more techy.
slickrock becomes more technical, and much more fun. The side-slope becomes
steeper on both the uphill and downhill sides as the trail contours a
The trail has become a bit harder to follow in recent years, as the
little rockpiles (cairns) that marked transitions have been removed. You
may follow some false paths a time or two on the way out. The trail is
much easier to follow when coming back.
For about 1/4 mile the trail hugs a shelf on the
slope. Despite the appearance, this is actually a fairly easy area to
As you come up to the top again, the route
continues west on top of the now-narrow ridge. You'll reach a spot with
some drop-offs where the trail seems to disappear. This isn't the end!
Watch for a
narrow 20-foot chute descending steeply on the left. For me, the chute was
unrideable -- my handlebars would not fit through the drop-off area in the
chute. As you hit the bottom, veer
Approaching the chute area.
Follow a twisting course west through the rocks, aiming for
the top of the next hill. As you begin climbing, there are some ledges and
the trail becomes hard to follow. Pick your way uphill -- probably on foot
-- until you get above the rocks and find a singletrack in the sage brush.
Taking a drop.
When you reach the singletrack, celebrate
by circling around the cliffs over the golf course. In 2017, the passage
up to the singletrack was a guessing game, and the circle route itself
wasn't seeing as much traffic as in years past.
down from the circle.
After completing the loop, backtrack. On the way, consider
hitting one of the connecting trails up to the City Creek
trail or try a bit of the Pioneer Park
trail across the parkway.
There are many areas with unusual erosion patterns in
the rock. Fun stuff.
Don't ramp off the smooth green bumps. This is a desert tortoise
protection area. Here a mojave tortoise strolls right down the
middle of the trail. May 4,
In the spring, you'll enjoy blooming
cactus and other wildflowers.
Here, a cactus "tree" shows its yellow-green blossoms.
This is called a cholla (choy-uh) cactus.
A ride on Owen's Trail above the Bluff Street Cliffs!
If the above video does not appear on your
browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking
Pioneer Park trailhead: From St.
George Blvd (the main drag), head north on Main Street (towards the
"Dixie" painted on the big rock above the cliffs). When you
reach Hope Street, turn right, then immediately take the left fork and
climb Skyline Drive to the top of the cliffs. Turn right. Just east of
the junction of Skyline Drive with Red Cliffs Parkway, there's paved
parking at the west end of Pioneer Park. Hop on the paved path on the
south side of the parking lot and descend under the parkway. Now turn
right uphill, cross Skyline Drive, and find the step-over entrance to
Owen's Trail just a bit uphill.
You can also park on the far west end of the
picnic loop in Pioneer Park -- east of the trail parking lot above. (To get on the loop, go east on Skyline Drive past the
Pioneer Park parking lot and take the next left.) Head straight west onto the slickrock,
keeping on the edge of the small cliffs that are to your right. You'll dump out onto
the west parking area, where you'll take the paved route as above. This adds about 1/3 mile of rock riding to your trip. And, the Pioneer
Park area is a good spot for non-riders to have a little fun while you skin your legs up.
Via City Creek trailhead: You can also get to
Owen's Trail by parking in the big lot at the top of the hill, starting
out on City Creek, then forking left on the connector as shown on the map.
But you'll miss the fun technical rock-garden on Owen's at mile 0.3 to