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View south from the ridge top Church Rocks
Loop Trail

The Church Rocks Loop is an intermediate trail just north of Washington (about 10 miles north of St. George). The loop itself is 3.1 miles of 90% slickrock. It's a fairly rapid ride, with little elevation change (about 150 feet), so you may want to do the loop section a couple of times.

This description is for the old "classic" loop. Most riders now connect to Church Rocks via the Prospector Trail through the Cottonwood Trailhead. See below.

View south towards the wash where you rolled underneath the freeway, with the town of Washington in the distance. May 6, 2000 by Bruce Argyle.

With the connector road and the spooky ride through the "haunted I-15 pipe", you'll do about 8.2 miles if you ride the loop only once. This a fun ride with great slickrock. With the new connections from the Prospector Trail and Coral Canyon subdivision, the trail is becoming steadily more popular.

The ride starts at Heritage Park in Coral Canyon. First, you head up the road toward the freeway, then find the cement bike trail between two homes at the end of Grasslands Parkway. Ride straight uphill, then along the freeway to the southwest. Go up the hill (Black Ridge). After the main trail veers left, find your way to the right, around the water tank. Finding the descending road 200 yards east of the water tank and head straight towards the freeway. 
Right at the western corner of the ridge as it bumps against the freeway is the drainpipe that's the underground path to the slickrock. (Don't descend further along the freeway! The drainpipe may be hard to see due to willows, but it's right there.) Drop into the wash and head straight into the round drainpipe that goes under the freeway. Insane? You bet. After exiting the drainpipe (hopefully, with all your skin intact), walk your bike through deep sand and volcanic rock until the trail climbs out of the wash on your left. 

Bruce cruises above the sandstone cliffs. Photo by Diane Argyle, May 6, 2000.

On, Banana Thunder, On!

Desert Marigold When the trail crosses over to the right side of the wash, immediately fork left and follow the trail up onto the slickrock. Watch carefully for stacked rocks and old painted dashes on the rock. The trail can be a bit hard to follow the first time. In general, remember you're climbing to the top of the slickrock and heading east into the rising sun.

Desert Marigold bloom in the "oasis" in the bottom of the wash.

The trail follows the break between the sagebrush of the mesa and the slickrock cliffs. This area isn't hard to navigate -- you just aim your bike east and follow the edge of the rock.

View of Church Rocks (upper right) from the slickrock above the cliffs. The path beneath the cliffs is the return trail. May 6, 2000.

Looking east towards Church Rocks

The trail descends to the bottom of the cliffs near Church Rocks -- the domes you see rising up to the east. The trail turns immediately back west and winds through exposed rock and singletrack back to the wash. As you turn on the rock above a small canyon, you'll see a fork in the trail. Right stays level and goes to the right of the canyon.
Nearing the top of the slickrock

View of a typical section of slickrock, broken by patches of vegetation eeking out a living in pits and cracks.

Once you're on open rock, look for the painted dash on the rock that marks the trail BACK up onto the mesa for a second loop. (The location of this junction is GPS N 37 09.700'  W 113 28.372'.) The left fork takes you into the botton of the canyon and back to the wash near the freeway.

Orange Globe Mallow bloom in the cool shade of the wash. May 6, 2000.

Orange Globe Mallow

Alternate ride, using Prospector from the Cottonwood Trailhead:  This is a great ride! Take the UT-9 exit from I-15 (highway 9 goes to Hurricane, Zion Canyon, Grand Canyon) about 15 miles north of St. George. Turn towards Hurricane and pass Coral Canyon. Instead, drive to the traffic light in 0.7 miles. Turn left on Old Highway 91. Now go exactly 2 miles north. Watch on your left for a gravel road that enters a tiny single-lane slot under the freeway, with a sign that says "Cottonwood Trailhead". It will be between a beer warehouse labeled Winkel Distributing and a Rocky Mountain Power office. Turn left and drive 0.25 miles under both lanes of the freeway to reach the trailhead. Follow the Cottonwood Trail 0.5 miles then veer left at two forks that are about 50 feet apart. The Prospector Trail will parallel the freeway heading south 3 miles. Turn left when it intersects the Church Rocks Loop and ride the loop clockwise. The ride will be about 11 miles.
For a bigger ride, start at the northern Prospector Trailhead on the road to Red Cliffs. See the Prospector Trail page. The trailhead is just across the freeway from Harrisville (use the Leeds exit and go south, or follow Old 91 north from Highway 9). This makes the ride just over 16 miles.
Alternate ride using the Dino Cliffs Trail:  Access Church Rocks from Dino Cliffs. Ride dirt roads to Dino Cliffs, then jump the 0.6 mile connector to the northwest corner of Church Rocks Loop. See the Dino Cliffs trail page.

Getting there, via Coral Canyon Trail: Take the UT-9 exit from I-15 (highway 9 goes to Hurricane, Zion Canyon, Grand Canyon) about 15 miles north of St. George. Turn towards Hurricane, but immediately turn right in 0.2 miles onto Coral Canyon Blvd. (If you pass the golf course, you missed it.) Go south through the roundabout and continue 0.6 miles, then right on Territory Canyon Drive. Immediately turn left on Grasslands Parkway. Heritage Park is 0.1 miles. Find a spot to park. On your bike, head north uphill on Grasslands (toward the freeway). Find the cement trail on your right, just before the road turns left and becomes North Bend Drive. Keep straight as you pass two paved trails that fork off. The paved trail will take you to the top of the water tank hill.
Alternate trailhead, Slick Rock Road in Coral Canyon: 
Go to Heritage Park as above, but as you climb up Grasslands Parkway, turn left on Slick Rock Road. Keep going south until the road turns north toward the freeway. Watch for the cement trail between two homes just before Slick Rock Road turns back east and becomes Sprint Canyon Drive. Once on the trail, fork right uphill, then take the next fork left to climb up Black Ridge toward the water tank.
Alternate trailhead, Grapevine via Washington Parkway:  Go to the north end of Washington Parkway (at the new exit 13 off I-15). Keep straight into the dirt road through a two fences, then park. Head east (to your right as you drive through the second fence). Follow the Grapevine Trail to the Prospector connector, then grab Bracken's for 0.1 mile, then fork R to head for Church Rocks. See the Dino Cliffs trail page for specific instructions.
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
   Garmin     National Geographic     Google Earth     GPX
Topo map for Prospector route:  View 
Connections via Grapevine, Dino Cliffs:  View
Lodging, camping, shops:
   Links to St. George area resources

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