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
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
||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. The trail climbs up and to the right from the bike, then
hits a steep rock outcrop around a fencepost. That's where the trail fork
is! Uphill and right takes you
to the corral and the main Gooseberry Road. Downhill and left is
where we're going for the Grafton Wash ride.
|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
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
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
Bike services: Hurricane, Springdale