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Guacamole Trail

The Guacamole Trail is located near Zion National Park on top of a mesa overlooking the Virgin River. The mountain bike trail is a mix of undulating open-rock riding plus singletrack through pinion, juniper, and brush. The trail is upper-intermediate in tech requirement, with a short area of advanced tech at the southeast corner of the loop. For the expert techies, there are ledges and stunts just a few feet away from the main trail, plus two side-dish trails that are significantly more challenging.

Dominic leads Chad and Mike up the Shinarump sandstone at Guacamole in 2006. Page updated by Bruce based on a ride November 16, 2011.

The classic Guacamole Trail is shaped like a lollipop, with the sweet part on the south end. The stem of the lollipop is called the Marguarita Trail.

The trailhead. We're looking west from the tiny parking area at the mesa top. Note the rock pile in the photo's center. That's how we'll navigate the main loop. Remaining photos November 2011.

First, a note on where to start your ride. The last 0.6 miles of the dirt road to Guacamole climbs steeply up the mesa. It's over 10% grade. When the road is wet, it's slippery and dangerous. After rain storms or when rain is forecast -- and throughout winter and early spring -- start your ride on the road and bike up the mesa. There's a wide spot for parking at the road fork below the mesa. 

Looking west on the West Cliffs singletrack, as the trail flirts with the mesa edge.

The Guacamole trail starts at 4350 feet elevation and tilts very slightly uphill as you head south. There's less than 150 feet of absolute elevation change over the first two miles of trail. The ride's highest point will be just before you hit the loop. Constant up-and-down riding will bring your total climbing to around 400 vertical feet. If you started from the bottom of the mesa, make that 700 vertical.

Heading south as the trail skirts the mesa edge.

The terrain is very similar to nearby Gooseberry Mesa or Little Creek. In fact it's the same stuff.

The rock is Shinarump conglomerate from the Triassic Era (about 240 million years ago). Mountains of metamorphic quartzite in the west of Utah were eroding, sending gravel and sand down into this area. Pebbles of quartzite and petrified wood are everywhere on the mesa. (PLEASE leave the petrified wood where it is!)

Typical trail section. Singletrack in the trees, with rocky ledges and humps.

The classic Guacamole ride is a lollipop shaped route of 6.5 miles. If you start from the parking spot at the fork below the mesa, the ride will be 7.7 miles. And add 300 vertical feet of climbing for the grunt to the mesa top.

This rock walked here. It's just waiting for you to leave before it moves on.

In slickrock areas, the trail is marked with small rockpiles. Navigation has improved a lot since my first visit in 2006, but you may occasionally need to stop and look around for the ongoing path. As you pass one rock pile, look for the next. If you don't see one, keep straight.

Marker cairn, this one made completely of petrified wood. The trail will go up and over countless elephant-back rock mounds like those in the photo.

The Classic Guacamole can be done as a quickie, finished in under 90 minutes by a skilled rider. With a couple of short rock-scrambles, it's within the ability level of an experienced intermediate rider.

In the valley below, that's the road in. The slope in mid-photo would be red Chinle and Moenkopi, but the red mudstone is covered by gray debris from the mesa top.

For a group of rock-lovers, Guacamole can fill up a half-day or more of tech riding. The tech sections will be more work per mile than you'd think. Even with leg power to spare, the upper body may get worn out after an hour of hitting the technical challenges. Take your time. This is more of a stay-and-play than a grind-the-miles.

Thirty feet off the ground, following a ridge of sandstone before dropping back down.

Over the Edge Sports (76 E. 100 S., Hurricane) is happy to provide current trail and dirt-road conditions. Call 435-635-5455.

Looking toward Zion National Park from the southeast corner of the loop.

Riding notes, Classic Guacamole:
0.0  R from road on rock following cairns
       N37 13.575 W113 06.869
1.1  Keep L for Margarita Trail 
       N37 13.103 W113 07.501
1.5  West ST rejoins, keep L
       N37 12.775 W113 07.447
1.6  ST rejoins, keep L
       N37 12.713 W113 07.417
2.1  Keep R for counterclockwise loop
       N37 12.398 W113 07.236
2.6  South ST joins on R (hard to spot)
       Keep L N37 12.153 W113 06.990
3.2  Fork L (R = South ST)
       N37 12.178 W113 06.633

4.4  Loop fork, R to return
       N37 12.398 W113 07.236
4.8  Keep R (L = West Cliffs)
       N37 12.713 W113 07.417
4.9  Keep R (L = West Cliffs)
       N37 12.775 W113 07.447
5.3  Keep R (L = West Cliffs)
       N37 13.103 W113 07.501
6.5  Back at trailhead

Note: the West Cliff and South ST are not
authorized routes. They're mentioned here
for navigation purposes.

OK, here's a fun spot. In 2006 while standing scratching our heads trying to pick up the continuing trail, Chad found this tube through the rock. We think it's likely the impression of an old tree trunk in the stone. When you reach a high point on an almost-impossible up-and-down just north of the trip around the slot (you'll know it when you ride it), at around N37 12.246  W113 06.642), look north about 50 feet. (See map.)

Getting there: From La Verkin, turn towards Zion National Park on Highway 9. Go 7 miles from the traffic light where you turned east in La Verkin, through the town of Virgin, and past the Kolob Reservoir Road on the left. At 7.3 miles, you'll see a dirt road on the north (left) side of the road (N37 11.874  W113 09.876). This is Dalton Wash Road. Drive north 1.9 miles. As the road turns to the east past a farm, you'll come to a fork (N37 12.456  W113 08.268). Turn left (north). Go 1.7 miles. As you approach the steep mesa, there's a wide spot in the road and a fork. The uglier road straight ahead is the correct one. In winter and early spring, or if the weather has been wet, park here and bicycle up the mesa. With any mud at all, the next 0.6 miles can be ugly and dangerous. Immediately as you get to the top of the mesa, the road forks again. Go right (south) about 100 yards. Look for a big open slickrock area on your right (GPS N37 13.575  W113 06.852). This is where the ride starts. Head west across the rock area to pick up the trail as it enters the trees.

Note: The trail to the west and south are not authorized routes. Shown here to prevent route confusion when you stumble onto a trail fork.

Other resources for the Guacamole Trail:
Single-page riding guide
Maps for printing:
    Topo map      Satellite view 
Track files (to download, right-click and "Save target as..."):
   Guacamole plus dirt road GPX file
   Guacamole Classic course
Lodging, camping, shops:
   Links to St. George area resources

Copyright 2006 Mad Scientist Software Inc
Updated 2011.