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Gooseberry Mesa
Classic South to North Rim Loop

Gooseberry Mesa is a tabletop mesa just west of Zion National Park. The Gooseberry Mesa slickrock singletrack is a new addition to Utah's trail system, and it's absolutely world-class. Several trails allow you to pick your own brand of awesome. Or you can do it all. That's why we keep going back.

Doctor Bruce and Banana Thumder stand on the cliff above the Moenkopi skirts leading down to the Virgin River 2000 feet below. We're on the north rim of Gooseberry Mesa. July 25, 1999.

Gooseberry Mesa mixes slickrock and firm dirt among pinions and junipers. The South Rim slickrock areas are advanced-level technical but only intermediate in strenuousness. The 0.5-mile Yellow Trail and the 2-mile Hidden Canyon Trail are advanced technical.  The North Rim Trail is intermediate tech.

Vincent Bria (age 12) finds plenty to like. November 2003.

The deeply-eroded, alternating bands of red and white that form the north and south borders of Gooseberry Mesa are mudstone of the Moenkopi Formation, laid down during the Triassic Era (about 240 million years ago). As the ocean receded, gravel and shoreline deposits formed the hard Shinarump conglomerate, which begins the cap of the mesa. As the area rose further, forest left behind petrified wood, which can be found lying on the mesa surface.

If you spend some time snooping around, you may even find dinosaur tracks in the sandstone. This rock marks the boundary between the Triassic (reptiles, mammal-like reptiles, and early bipedal dinosaurs) and the Jurassic (bipedal carnivores such as allosaurus, four-legged plant-eaters such as stegosaurs and camarosaurs).

Bruce tackles a climb. The uphills are quick hit-em-hard sprints -- no long grunts. March 2003.

Why stick to the trail? There's fun rock EVERYWHERE. Unlike Moab's Slickrock Trail, there are no brutal hill-climbs. Instead, the ride is a test of balance, burst strength, and reaction time: short ups, brief downs, and quick turns. You can rarely see where you're going to put the bike 20 feet later.

Chad posts a tire-skidding turn

In summer 2000, the trail was re-marked, with paint spots showing the path through the slickrock. Navigation is easy if you have an overview map that shows the trail forks and doubletrack intersections.

It's obvious that a lot of thought went into making this trail fun. Perhaps that's because this route originated as a mountain bike trail, not as a horse or jeep trail.

Up and down, thread-the-needle, quick turns. A tech rider's dream!

Don't look down. The loop using the South Rim to The Point, including the Yellow Trail, and returning via the Damn Trail and Slickrock 101 is 12.5 miles in length. We usually spend about 3 to 4 hours goofing off on this loop.

Bruce cruises the cliff edge along the South Rim. The trail flirts with "Not Rock" countless times. August 5, 2000. Photo Mike Engberson.

Altitude change from the trail's beginning to The Point is around 100 feet. If you take the mesa road for your return, it will be slightly downhill on the trip back.

For the beginner, the "Practice Loop" also known as Slickrock 101 features easy slickrock with no tricky stuff. Many bikers just head down the central road of the mesa (see map) -- it's a pretty good ride all by itself.

For bikers who want to see just how much abuse a bike can take, well, there's an opportunity every few yards. In God's Skateboard Park, you'll find stunts ranging from the merely difficult to the truly insane. But -- here's the beauty of Gooseberry -- a good intermediate rider can take these same trails without feeling he's endangering life and limb.

Matt Flygare takes a shortcut on the South Rim Trail. Want an 800 x 600 version of this photo to use as your computer's background wallpaper? Visit our Wallpaper Page!  Photo August 5, 2000

High reading on the "Oh Shhhhiiiittttt!" Meter.

This ride is definitely not boring visually. The mesa is very pretty. In the fall, there are pine nuts everywhere. And of course, there are gooseberries. You'll run across cottontails, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and very large lizards. Cactus of all sorts bloom from spring into early summer. And if you look in the right places, you'll see dinosaur footprints and fossilized wood.

Prickly pear cactus blossom. June 25, 1998 Bruce Argyle. Canon A-1 w macro lens.

Our "reviewers" feel Gooseberry is every bit as good as the famous Slickrock Trail, but different. Certainly the ratio of fun to hard work is better at Gooseberry.

There's no water at the available on the mesa. There's a toilet at the fork in the road about a mile from the trailhead. There's a bike shop in Springdale (10 miles away), where bike rentals, repairs, and maps are available. Rough camping is allowed on the mesa (no formal campsites). Yurt camping is being developed on the north rim, click [ here ] for information.

Brian climbs the rock towards blooming cactus. June 25, 1998 Bruce Argyle, Canon A-1 55 mm

Rock varies from easy to insanely tricky.

Bikers cruise back along the south rim of Gooseberry Where the trail hugs the cliff edge, there are incredible views from the south and north rims of the mesa. The temperature up on the mesa is pleasant even in the summer. Expect snow in the winter. At 5400 feet elevation, the mesa top is much cooler than the valleys below, and has an almost constant breeze.

Bikers Chad and Gary head east on Rattlesnake Rim.
Above them is The Point -- the ride's end.
June 25, 1998 by Bruce Argyle

Trail Notes, Gooseberry Classic, clockwise
Begin South Rim

0.0   ST south (right as you enter parking)
        Cattle Grate Trail
        N 37 08.498' W 113 10.304'
1.4   Trail touches mesa road, turns away
        N 37 08.492' W 113 10.884'
1.7   Trail touches road again
        God's Skateboard Park
        N 37 08.444' W 113 11.022'
3.2   Merge R onto small DT
        N 37 07.991' W 113 11.270'
3.4   L off DT onto ST
        Rattlesnake Rim
        N 37 08.078' W 113 11.336'
4.2   Keep L  (R to Hidden Canyon)
        N 37 07.792' W 113 11.712'
6.5   Straight for Point (R on DT = N Rim)
        N 37 08.440' W 113 13.047'
Side Trip to Point
7.0   The Point (view, turn back)
        N 37 08.533' W 113 13.312'
7.5   Back at fork, go L on DT
  
Begin North Rim
8.0   R on ST = Yellow Trail
        N 37 08.354' W 113 12.686'
8.5   R on DT for 100 feet,
        then L on ST (That Damn Trail)
        N 37 08.303' W 113 12.478'
10.0 Fork L (R goes to road)
        N 37 08.337' W 113 11.667'
        For Hidden Canyon, R to road,
        L on road 0.2 mi, then L on ST
        at N 37 08.318' W 113 11.770'

10.6 Keep R (L =Bowls & Ledges, Windmill)
        N 37 08.555' W 113 11.248'
10.9 Fork L @ N 37 08.508' W 113 11.077'
        Slickrock 101
        (R = road @ N 37 08.508' W 113 11.077')
11.5 Keep L (R = Windmill Loop)
        N 37 08.669' W 113 10.626'
        30 ft later, L=hard, R=easier
11.7 Trails rejoin, soft turn ( to SE)
        N 37 08.774' W 113 10.518'
12.2 At road, turn L
        N 37 08.473' W 113 10.594'
12.5 Back at parking

Download GPS waypoints for ride above (right-click and "Save as..."):  GARMIN    GPX     
(For full waypoints and track files, see below!)

Gooseberry Classic

This is the ride described above. You get the Cattle Grate, God's Skateboard Park, Rattlesnake Rim, the Point, Yellow, and the North Rim. Nice fast ride. See resources at bottom of page for track files!

Here's another great option: Add Hidden Canyon TWICE to form a 16.6 mile figure 8!  Begin the South Rim, but jump off Rattlesnake Rim at mile 4.2 by turning R on Hidden Canyon (N37 07.791 W113 11.713). Arriving at the Mesa Road 2 miles later, we jog R 200 feet, then turn hard L on ST to head west on the last section of the North Rim Trail. Back at the road, we go 100 feet west, then turn left on the Yellow Trail. 

Rejoining the road, we turn L. 1/2 mile later, we reach the Rattlesnake Rim - The Point intersection. After doing the Point, we head east on Rattlesnake Rim. When we reach the Hidden Canyon fork, we go L to do the H.C. trail again! At the mesa road, we hit the North Rim Trail, but turn R (east) this time. We follow the North Rim back to parking for a 16.6-mile riot.

Chad drops his back wheel onto rock as he jumps across a deep fissure. Whew!  August 5, 2000. (Don't sweat it -- this isn't part of the trail.)

Don't choke. Don't choke.

Getting there -- North: As you approach Zion National Park in Rockville, turn south (right) on Bridge Road. Cross the Virgin River and continue straight until the road turns right (west) and turns to gravel. Keep left at the fork at 1.5 miles. Continue to a total of 6.2 miles to the top of the mesa, watching for a road going through the fence on your right. (There may, or may not, be a small sign "Gooseberry Mesa.") Another 3.6 miles after the turnoff, take the left fork at the outhouse. Now ignore any smaller branching roads. 1.1 miles later, you'll cross a cattle guard. Park there. The trail begins along the fence on the left side. Trailhead GPS: N 37 08.491'  W 113 10.299'

Getting there -- South: As you pass through Hurricane heading east on Highway 9, turn right at the Highway 59 sign. One block later, turn left and drive out of town. About 15 minutes later, you'll pass a gas station on the left-hand side, then some fields. Watch for a "Scenic Byway" sign, and turn left onto a dirt road (14.8 miles from the turnoff in Hurricane). Two miles later, just as you reach the mountain, the Gooseberry Mesa road turns off on your left. Another 3.6 miles after the turnoff, take the left fork. Now stay on the bigger road, ignoring any forks. 1.1 miles later, you'll cross a cattle guard. Park there. The South Rim trail begins along the fence on the left side of the road. Trailhead GPS: N 37 08.491'  W 113 10.299'

Gooseberry Mesa Map

Riding resources for this trail:
One-page printable guide to Gooseberry Classic
GPS track files and waypoints (right-click and "Save as..."):
    Gooseberry Classic            Garmin     GPX
    Gooseberry NE        Garmin     GPX
    Windmill / Bowls&Ledges Loop      Garmin     GPX
    Tour de Rim (Whole Gander)        Garmin     GPX
    The Works        Garmin     GPX
Interactive Gooseberry track map:  Load
High-res topo map for printing:  View 
Lodging, camping, shops:
   Links to St. George area resources

Other Gooseberry Pages:
   Windmill Loop (with Bowls and Ledges)
   White Trail
   Gooseberry NE Rim  
     Harris Trail

Gooseberry Yurt rental:  Our review    Rental website

Copyright 1998 Mad Scientist Software Inc, Updated 2010.