Exploration page. For internal use only. This page contains information saved for possible future trail designations. It is NOT part of the web site, and is NOT approved for public use. The trail shown is not a sanctioned route.
Grafton Wash

The Grafton Wash trail is an unofficial singletrack route with a little bit of slickrock. Top elevation is 4900 feet. Season is April through November. The connects the northeastern corner of Gooseberry Mesa to Grafton Mesa on the east. The loop ride described here is 4.8 miles with 500 vertical feet of elevation change. 

View northwest down Grafton Wash, from near the top of the trail. Photos and ride March 31, 2011 by Bruce.

Most cyclists won't find any reason to ride this trail. Unless you're an old jaded Gooseberry junkie, I'd say "skip it."

The Grafton Wash trail can be used as a non-road return from Gooseberry Mesa via the NE Rim. Its eastern end connects directly to the Grafton Mesa singletrack, which drops off the mountain to Grafton. From Grafton you can pedal back to Rockville or Springdale.

Heading down the doubletrack, slightly downhill and high-speed, as the mountains of Zion loom above.

The trail has some stiff climbing, and is upper-intermediate in tech requirement. The Grafton Wash trail itself is only 1.2 miles long. The loop incorporates a mile of primitive doubletrack, 3/4 mile of the Gooseberry Northeast rim singletrack, plus about 2 miles of dirt road. Because this isn't an officially sanctioned trail, you won't find any trail signs or other help in navigation.

We're on the Gooseberry NE Rim singletrack, heading to Grafton Wash.

I started my ride on primitive doubletrack just off the Gooseberry Mesa road. 1.4 miles from the turn off of the Smithsonian Butte Scenic Byway, two doubletracks fork off, right as the road turns left and climbs a steep rocky slope. These DTs reconnect. I parked at the connector and began riding north on the DT.

Cruising through a smaller feeder wash.

The doubletrack is pretty. Juniper and pinion alternate with broad meadows of prickly pear. After a mile, the Gooseberry NE Rim trail crosses. Turn right onto the singletrack. If you miss it, you'll arrive at the cliffs. Backtrack about 150 yards.

This is the spot where the critical fork occurs. BThe trail climbs up and to the right from the bike, then hits a steep rock outcrop around a fencepost. Uphill and right takes you to the corral and the main Gooseberry Road. Downhill and left is where we're going.

The singletrack descends into a branch of Grafton Wash. When you hit a rock-bottom wash with a steep climb up the other side (at mile 1.7 of the ride), you've come to the critical trail fork.

The trail climbs out of the wash to a fence. A trail heads uphill here. That's not the one you want. Instead, turn downhill right on the edge of the wash and look for rock markers and singletrack hugging the wash edge. (A less-traveled alternate route shortcuts through the trees and rejoins.)

The trail flirts with the edge of this wash as it descends toward the main Grafton Wash channel.

Here the trail is challenging to follow. Watch for cairns in the slickrock areas. Descend generally east.

When the trail hits the wash, it becomes more obvious. It will turn south at mile 2.4 and drop into the washbottom. After about 1/4 mile, it will leave the wash and begin climbing the hill to the east.

Heading up the wash. Jackie is wondering why I've stopped.

This is a tough climb. The average slope is 10%, but the turns are steep and challenging. Walk what you must. (The slope climbing the other side is a little less steep, should you want to do the loop counterclockwise.) You'll do 300 vertical in 0.6 miles to the top of the ridge.

The trail up the eastern side of the wash is occasionally steep.

As you reach the top of the ridgeline at mile 2.9, you'll join the Grafton Mesa trail. Keeping left and following the ridge takes you downhill to parking, roads, and the Grafton Mesa ride. If you turn hard right, you can follow the singletrack a short distance to the Smithsonian Butte Scenic Byway.

Looking southwest up Grafton Wash as we get closer to the top.

Once you reach the byway, you can pedal 1/2 mile to the Gooseberry Mesa road. Follow the road back to your car.

Bottom line: This won't be your favorite Gooseberry area trail. It has its moments. But I found it hard to envision how this trail would fit into a typical rider's plan for the day. Maybe it's "Hey, let's head over to Grafton Mesa and bomb back to town!" from the middle of Gooseberry.

The trail is arriving at the top of the ridge. Looking back along the trail to the northwest.

Riding notes: Clockwise loop
0.0   Park at intersection of doubletracks, just off
        main Gooseberry Mesa road N37 07.824 W113 07.132
        Head north on DT.
0.9   Fork R on ST
1.6   As you exit wash, fork L downhill
        N37 07.953 W113 06.496 follow edge of wash N
2.2   Bottom of wash, climb up to east
2.8   Crest hill, fork hard R   N37 07.665 W113 06.157
        Join main road southbound N37 07.569 W113 06.170
3.3   R on Gooseberry Mesa Road N37 07.026 W113 06.407
4.8   Back at car

And we're there! Northwest, the Pine Valley Mountains form the skyline.

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.") 1.4 miles after the turnoff, find a DT on your right, exactly as the road turns 90 degrees left and begins a steep climb. Go 1/10 mile down the DT and park at the fork N37 07.824 W113 07.132.

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. Go to the trailhead as above.

Camping: primitive on Gooseberry Mesa and Grafton Mesa
Bathroom: on Gooseberry Road, 2.5 miles west of trailhead
Water: none
Bike services: Hurricane, Springdale

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click, "Save as..."):
     GPX area track files    Loop course only
Map for printing:   Grafton/Wire Mesa area topo
Lodging, camping, shops:    Links to St. George area resources

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