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.
|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.||
|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!
|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.|
|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.
|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,
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
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
|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.
Chad and Gary head east on Rattlesnake Rim.
|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
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'
(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
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.)
|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'
|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
Copyright 1998 Mad Scientist Software Inc, Updated 2010.