||Wild Horse Trail System
Goblin Valley State Park
Seven miles of singletrack mountain bike trail opened for riding in June 2015
at Goblin Valley State Park. The Wild Horse trail system sits on a small
mesa west of (and above) the campground, with Wild Horse Butte looming
above the trails to the north. No, you won't be riding among the hoodoos
for which Goblin Valley is famous, which are better enjoyed at a strolling
View on the edge of the mesa,
looking northeast from the Dark Side of the Moon. The red columns are the
same rock as the goblins -- the Entrada Formation. Photos and trail review
by Bruce on July 11, 2015.
|The trails form interconnected loops, so you can ride as
much or as little as you want. To hit every single piece of trail, your
minimum ride would be 8.7 miles with 800 vertical feet of climbing. Each
trail fork has a trail map on a post. If you've been paying any attention
at all, you shouldn't get lost.
We're approaching the Henry Mountains
overlook on the Buffalo Head trail. Those are the Henrys in the distance,
looking southwest. Note the red rocks along the trail -- agate and jasper.
||While there are long stretches of flat smooth easy trail,
there's also a lot dipping through washes. If you're taking true beginners
or young children, expect that they'll likely dismount to hike through
these spots. Overall, I'm rating the trail system as requiring
early-intermediate skills. The hardest riding is on the north/west end of
Lizard Foot, which I'd rate upper-intermediate.
Looking back to the northeast, the
Wild Horse Butte is a landmark visible from almost all of the trail
system. The gray slopes are the Curtis Formation.
|A note for 2015: While much of the trail is already
firmly packed, there are long soft stretches which will tax even strong
riders. The worst was a 0.4 mile stretch on the northwest side of the
Landslide loop riding clockwise. Although it climbed only 100 vertical
feet, the soft red dirt felt like grunting up Puke Hill. With the brakes
rubbing. Into the wind. Towing a fat kid in a trailer.
When you see salt on the surface, you're heading into soft stuff. Much
of the soil here fluffs up like a marshmallow when it's wet -- rather than
compacting. As the water evaporates, it leaves a crust with powder below.
Looking back at my tire tracks on a
brutally loose section of Landslide.
||Once the trail packs down, the swoops, dips, and turns will
make this trail a joy to ride. It will be high-speed desert cruising mixed
with dips and turns. With great views all around.
At the trail fork between Landslide
and Desert View, looking west toward the cliffs of Summerville Formation
|In many areas, the
trailside is paved with agate and jasper. There
will be geodes as well as chips and slabs.
|Here's a slab, about 8
inches long, that's studded with pearls
of red rock. Fun stuff. Leave it where you found it.
|The first loop option is Buffalo Head, which you'll
encounter on Lizard Foot 0.4 miles from the parking area. Buffalo Head
is fairly well-packed at this time, with a little rutted fluff on the side-slopes and at the entry and exit of wash-dips. The trail approaches
gray ledges of the Curtis Formation (the layer just above the red
goblin-forming Entrada). It turns back at a viewpoint where you can see the
Henry Mountains to the southwest.
Back in the center of the trail
system, ready to head out toward Dark Side of the Moon.
||From the Buffalo Head loop, you can either return to the
center of the trail complex, or head west (clockwise) onto the Landslide
trail loop. Landslide gets into the red dirt at the bottom of the
Summerville Formation as it loops around a knoll and returns to the center
of the riding area.
Looking northwest toward the rock
slopes of the San Rafael Swell from Dark Side of the Moon. The white is
|Proceeding clockwise, your next stop will be Dark Side of
the Moon on the northwest corner. This trail parallels the
banded Summerville Formation cliffs to the west. At the northwestern corner of
the mesa, there's a viewpoint where you can admire the sharktooth southern
edge of the San Rafael Swell. Tiptoe toward the edge and look at the spires in
the cliffs of Entrada Formation below you.
View east as Dark Side of the Moon
runs near the cliffs. Wild Horse Butte is the on the right.
||As you complete Dark Side of the Moon riding clockwise, you can turn right to
return to the center of the trail system, or stay left along the cliff edge
as you join the Desert View
Desert View skirts the southern edge of Wild Horse Butte as it heads to the far
northeastern point of the riding complex. Here is the Wild Horse Butte
overlook, where you can again admire the sandstone escarpments of the San
Rafael, occupying the skyline to the north as far as the eye can see.
Looking across the desert on the
Desert View trail.
|At this point, Wild Horse Butte looms above you. This is the
Summerville Formation, with a caprock of (I presume) Salt Wash sandstone.
At the base of Wild Horse Butte, there
are views above as well as views below from the overlook.
||The next overlook, also on Desert View, is the Desert View
overlook. Here you're looking into the campground and picnic areas, with
the pavilion and parking for the hoodoos on the ridgeline to the
The lie of the land from the Desert
|Riding Desert View clockwise, you'll come to the fork for
Lizard Foot, near the center of the trail complex. The next mile is some
of the most fun riding, with lots of turns and dips, mostly high-speed and
Rockin' along on Lizard Foot. Back in
the gray stuff, with a coating of red jasper.
||On Lizard Foot, you'll make a turn at the cliff-top
viewpoint above Molly's Castle. Awesome gawking, but be careful here.
Lizard Foot will take you back to parking. Or, you can
fork off onto Buffalo Head to do it again. Or to hit the pieces you missed
on your first go-round.
View into the approach to Molly's
Castle from the overlook.
Very nicely designed trail system. Needs bike tires to pack it down, but
it will become a most worthwhile ride. Goblin Valley is one of those
places you absolutely must visit sooner or later. The bike trails give you
another reason to go there, plus an excuse to stay longer.
More Lizard Foot as we head back.
||You can't go to Goblin Valley without visiting the goblins.
Neither could I.
The goblins are at the end of the paved road (left at the T as you were
entering, right as you hit pavement from the bike parking area). There's a
large shaded picnic pavilion, plenty of parking, and a bathroom.
Looking southeast from the Goblin
parking area. We're probably on the same spot where I spent a rainy
childhood night in a leaky tent, back before there were paved roads or a
|The hikes down into the valley start here. Descend on any of
the trails, then just wander around. The goblins change with every new
angle. It's been one of my favorite places since childhood.
The goblins are made of Entrada
sandstone and mudstone. The white cliffs east of the valley are Curtis
Formation, but a bit harder than what we were riding on a little to the
You can go where you want, except for climbing on the
hoodoos themselves. Imagine a 1000-pound rock on your splattered chest,
with the State Parks Department asking your next of kin to pay the
substantial fine. Don't climb on the goblins.
|Quick ride, outer loop track ("just
0.0 Dirt road from parking
N38 34.179 W110 42.705
0.05 Left as DT splits
0.1 L onto ST (Lizard Foot)
N38 34.188 W110 42.786
0.4 L on Buffalo Head
N38 34.192 W110 42.993
0.6 L (still Buffalo Head)
N38 34.155 W110 43.138
1.4 Henry Mountain overlook
1.8 L on Landslide
N38 33.957 W110 43.166
3.0 L on Desert View
N38 34.230 W110 43.302
|3.2 L on Dark Side of the Moon
N38 34.240 W110 43.457
3.7 San Rafael Swell overlook
4.1 L on Desert View
N38 34.482 W110 43.393
4.6 Wild Horse Butte overlook
4.8 Desert View overlook
5.1 L on Lizard Foot
N38 34.329 W110 43.238
5.7 Molly's Castle overlook
6.0 L to stay on Lizard Foot
N38 34.192 W110 42.992
6.4 Back at parking
On Interstate 70 just west of Green River, drive 8 miles west from the
US-6 junction. Turn south on Highway 24 and go 24 miles. Turn right on
Temple Mountain Road. Drive 5 miles west, then turn left on Goblin Valley
Road and drive 7 miles to Goblin Valley State Park. Pay at the entry
station (2015 fee $10 per car).
At the T in the paved road, go straight across to the narrow dirt road.
Climb the hill and drive 0.2 miles then turn right into the parking area.
Start the ride by pedaling back to the road and continuing west. At the
fork in the road, go either direction. The singletrack entry is found at
the far west end of the loop in the road.
Bathrooms: Campground, Goblin overlook, visitor's
Water: Campground, visitor's center
Camping: Goblin Valley Campground (additional fee)