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Dead Ringer

Dead Ringer is a fun singletrack in the JEM riding area. It extends from the upper (Highway 59) JEM trailhead downhill to end on Cryptobionic just north of Sheep Bridge Road. It was completed in early 2015, creating many new riding options in the JEM area. The trail was a joint project of the BLM and the Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association (DMBTA).

Dead Ringer reaches the platform of Virgin Limestone at clifftop. In 0.5 miles we'll be at the upper end of JEM. Photos and ride review by Bruce January 9 (upper trail) and March 17 (Goosebumps to Cryptobionic), 2015.

Dead Ringer is five miles long with 500 vertical feet of elevation change. Most of the slope is in the top mile and a half. I'd rate it easy-intermediate in technical requirement.

Experienced beginners can ride this trail if they know how to get their butt off the saddle while the bike rocks. The western (downhill) end of the trail has a lot of quick up-and-down bumps, like the Goosebumps trail. 

Looking east toward Zion National Park. The foreground slopes are Moenkopi Formation, capped by Virgin Limestone. The sandstone mountains on the skyline are Navajo Sandstone.

Between the Highway 59 trailhead and Cryptobionic, Dead Ringer connects to both ends of More Cowbell. Down the hill, a spur goes over to the Goosebumps intersection with JEM. Further on, the trail crosses JEM before meandering over to Cryptobionic. These connections divide the trail into thirds: 59 to Goosebumps, Goosebumps fork to JEM crossing, and JEM to Cryptobionic. Riders can combine any of these portions into a custom ride. 

The crossover. We're looking northeast -- downhill -- at the spot where Goosebumps crosses JEM.

The upper trail (above the Goosebumps spur) has a different character from the lower 2/3 of Dead Ringer. The upper third has a steady slope as the trail winds along the skirts of the mesa. The lower portion twists and dips through a relatively flat brush area.

View uphill as Dead Ringer skirts a wash. The northernmost spire of Gooseberry Mesa sits on the skyline.

For beginners, a very nice ride (with nothing technical and minimal climbing) is to combine the upper 0.4 miles of Dead Ringer with More Cowbell, a side loop on the white limestone ledges near the top. This ride starts from the upper JEM (Highway 59) trailhead.

Just downhill from the Highway 59 JEM trailhead, we'll skirt the wash below us, then roll toward the cliff edge. We can also see the return trail of More Cowbell.

Dead Ringer as a climbing route

Dead Ringer is a great ride either uphill or down. Many riders are using Dead Ringer as a climbing route to the top of JEM. You can connect to Dead Ringer at the bottom via Cryptobionic, in its middle at the JEM crossing near Sheep Bridge Road, or near the mesa from Goosebumps. The rate of climb is pleasant, with nothing tricky.

On the lower trail between the Cryptobionic and the JEM crossover.

To connect to Dead Ringer further along, you can keep climbing southbound on JEM. Just after crossing Sheep Bridge Road, fork right (west) as Dead Ringer crosses.

You can join Dead Ringer in the last two miles by climbing Cryptobionic to its end, then forking right on Goosebumps and climbing to the top. At the point where the Goosebumps hits JEM, go straight across and you're on Dead Ringer. It's 1.9 miles from the Goosebumps/JEM intersection to the upper Highway 59 JEM trailhead, with 300 vertical feet of climbing.

Heading south just after the Goosebumps fork.. 

Many riders are parking where Sheep Bridge Road hits Highway 59 and pedaling a little ways on the doubletrack to catch JEM uphill as it crosses the road (go right, toward Gooseberry). A few feet after joining the JEM singletrack, fork right as Dead Ringer crosses.

NOTE! If someone says "meet me at Sheep Bridge road," be sure you know if it's at Highway 59 (up the hill from Hurricane) or Highway 9 (just outside of Virgin on the way to Zion National Park). Sheep Bridge Road goes all the way from Highway 9 to Highway 59.

We've reached the slopes in the Lower Red Member of the Moenkopi Formation. Gooseberry Mesa pierces the skyline. Note the rockwork supporting the trail.

To get to the trail from the Virgin Highway 9 Sheep Bridge Road trailhead, take JEM uphill. Options: (1) JEM to Hurricane Rim to Cryptobionic. Fork onto Dead Ringer just after crossing Sheep Bridge Road. You'll do the entire Dead Ringer trail. (2) JEM to the midpoint of Cryptobionic, south to the Dead Ringer fork as above. Shorter and easier.

Reaching that last little push to get on top of the limestone.

The upper mile of the trail is a steady climb, but very smooth and non-technical. It makes a great "tired-leg" ride. Even though the slope-hugging area under the cliffs looks a bit spooky, the riding path is broad and easy. Not at all scary in actual riding.

After taking Dead Ringer uphill, its top end connects directly to the upper end of the JEM singletrack near the trailhead.

Heading uphill, about a half-mile to go before we reach the top of JEM.

 

Dead Ringer descending

As a downhill, Dead Ringer offers a rolling twisting alternative to the flat-and-fast cruise on JEM. Here's what you can do heading downhill:

Take the spur to Goosebumps for an eastbound ride. Do all of Goosebumps, or connect to Cryptobionic for a quick northbound trip to Hurricane Rim.

Transfer to JEM. Either at the Goosebumps spur or the JEM crossover, turn left on JEM for a fast descent.

Loop around. At the bottom end, turn right uphill on Cryoptobionic for a little loop ride.

Some riders are combining Dead Ringer with the lower half of Cryptobionic as a variation on the Hurricane Loop ride. 

A rider descends below the limestone cliff. Photo courtesy of Kevin Christopherson.

The downhill begins with a mellow half mile as you descend a gentle shale slope. When you hit the cliff edge of the Virgin Limestone, the pace picks up a little, but it's still a broad riding base with no tricky stuff.

Looking downhill. From a distance, the trail looks spooky. But once you get there, there's plenty of room to ride and the side-slope isn't that horribly steep.

After a mile, you'll reach a brush area. The slope of the clay eases as you're on the platform supported by the hard underlying Kaibab Limestone layer.

We're just past the turnoff to Goosebumps, heading north toward the granite Pine Valley Mountains. Where the highway hits the cliffs, you can see a bit of the Kaibab Limestone that forms the mesa.

The only important trail fork is the first one, at mile 1.8. Right takes you over to JEM and the upper end of Goosebumps. Left continues with Dead Ringer.

Now you'll encounter a few other forks. These are A-B lines. The "green" route is a ride-around for a stunt such as a rock rollover. The lines will rejoin in 50 feet of so.

We're at the first A-B split. Left is easy, right is upper-intermediate because you'll contend with a rock. Take it as a rollover the first time, then launch it the next trip.

This lower section of the trail meanders around -- a lot. So if your goal is to get your ride over with as quickly as possible, this isn't the trail for you.

Bike for perspective on the size of the rock edge. You can do this.

 

 If the above video does not appear on your browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking here.

Only one of the rocks required an actual jump or wheelie maneuver. Most are low enough and forgiving enough to simply roll over. If you're an intermediate, scout the stunt on your first pass, then loop around and go for it.

Taking a bit of air on the way downhill. But there are easy B lines and ride-arounds. You don't have to do this. Photo courtesy of Kevin Christopherson.

Update, April 2015:
The upper portion of JEM (from the Highway 59 trailhead down to the Goosebumps intersection) is now one-way, downhill only. When climbing to the Highway 59 trailhead, you must use either Dead Ringer on the west or the JEM Doubletrack from the east.
  
Dead Ringer Lariat Ride, notes:
0.0   DT, cross cattle extruder
        N37 08.342 W113 14.524
        L downhill on Dead Ringer
        N37 08.361 W113 14.517
0.4   Fork L (R= More Cowbell)
        N37 08.488 W113 14.640
0.5   Fork L (R = return More Cowbell)
        N37 08.408 W113 14.734
1.8   Fork L (R = to JEM/Goosebumps)
        N37 09.035 W113 15.092
2.7   Cross JEM N37 09.648 W113 15.230
5.0   R on Cryptobionic N37 10.590 W113 14.372
5.9   L for uphill (rejoins)
        Loop around to keep mileage accurate!*

6.4   R on Goosebumps N37 09.782 W113 14.519
6.6   L for uphill (again, loop around*)
8.0   R for uphill (loop around*)
8.7   Cross JEM to Dead Ringer
        N37 09.111 W113 15.109
8.8   Keep straight
        N37 09.035 W113 15.092
10.0 Straight (L = More Cowbell)
        N37 08.408 W113 14.734
10.1 Straight (L = More Cowbell return)
        N37 08.488 W113 14.640
10.5 DT, R to TH
        If you don't do loops on 3 A/B lines*
        above, your mileage will be 0.4 less

Getting there, upper JEM (59) trailhead:  
In Hurricane, turn south on US-59 (towards the Grand Canyon). Drive exactly 5 miles uphill. Turn left on cindered doubletrack right as you approach the base of Gooseberry Mesa. Drive another 0.3 miles to the parking area. N 37 08.329' W 113 14.527'. Pedal across the cattle extruder, then fork left downhill as you reach the Dead Ringer singletrack.
From the Highway 9 trailhead:
From I-15 north, take the La Verkin exit on UT-17. From the south, take the Hurricane exit on US-9 and go through Hurricane towards Zion National Park. At the junction of US-9 with UT-17, turn east towards Zion. 4.8 miles after the turnoff, turn right (south) on a gravel road signed "Sheep Bridge Rd." 0.5 miles later, you'll cross over the Virgin River. Just uphill is a cattleguard, then a doubletrack on your right 0.1 miles after the bridge. Take the doubletrack 0.2 miles to a turn-around overlooking the Virgin River. The singletrack is at the end of the turn-around. Pedal JEM uphill and fork left on Cryptobionic. Then fork right when you reach Dead Ringer. 

NOTE:  Do not damage these trails by riding when wet. For current conditions, contact Over the Edge Sports, 76 E. 100 S. in Hurricane, 435-635-5455.

Highway 59 Sheep Bridge Rd:  Drive toward the upper JEM trailhead on Highway 59 as above. But at mile 3.3 (while still on the flat area), turn left on gravel road. Immediately park on the right, just inside the fence. Pedal 0.4 miles northeast to where the JEM singletrack crosses. Navigate to your destination trail.
Hurricane Hill trailhead:
  As above, turn south in Hurricane on US-59 Follow the road uphill 0.9 miles, then turn left into the trailhead parking near the cell phone towers. GPS N 37 10.740' W 113 16.601', Alt=3650'. The Hurricane Rim trail begins along the fence, heading northeast. To get to Gould's, roll down the highway (caution!) 0.1 miles then veer left to the steep doubletrack.

Riding resources for this trail:
One-page riding guide, above lariat loop
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
     Lariat Loop ride as above    Dead Ringer only
     JEM area multi-track file  Map datum WGS 84
Connecting trails:
     Hurricane Cliffs Trail Summary page   Gould's Connector
     JEM trail page   Goosebumps/Cryptobionic trail page
     JEM DT   Hurricane Rim page   Goulds Rim page
     More Cowbell (White Ledges beginner loop) page
Map for printing:  View
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to St. George area resources

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