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Moenkopi Trail
plus La Verkin Creek

Here are two very different riding options, just up the hill from La Verkin (north of Hurricane). One option is a fun and fast cruiser, 6.8 miles round trip, on fast ATV trail. The trail is fairly easy technically, with up-and-down riding, and only about 300 feet of total climbing round trip. 

Typical hard-dirt riding surface on the Moenkopi Trail. In the background, the skirted slopes of the Moenkopi formation are constantly by your side. Photos March 20, 2008 by Bruce.

You'll see lovely views of mesas and colorful red badland slopes. The second option is for tougher and adventurous riders: you'll do part of the cruiser, then descend down to La Verkin Creek. Fighting uphill on sandy ATV-track, you'll cross the creek several times, then hike directly up the stream-bed through the gorge.
First, the Cruiser:  From the trailhead, you head north. The ATV-track follows the break where the steeper soft red slopes of Moenkopi clay meet the harder pale dirt on top of the Kaibab Limestone. To navigate, just keep going north, and never take any track that will send you far away from those red slopes. 

To lengthen the ride, consider riding up either of two washes you'll cross on the way. At mile 2.5, the main track turns abruptly left and drops steeply to the creek. Instead, fork right on fainter ATV track. When you reach cliff-edge with no more trail at mile 3.4, that's the turn-around.

Hurricane Mesa looms over the trail as we head back southward on the return leg.

For the river option, conditions may vary wildly depending on time of year, cattle, and motorized visitors. The track here tends to be very soft. I found it semi-tough uphill but only bogged down a couple of times. The track crosses the creek several times. In late summer you might be able to ride through some crossings. I had to hike them. 

Jackie checks out the water. Some crossings were too swift and deep for her to swim, and she had to be carried across.

After about 2 miles, the gorge closes in and you'll find yourself in the river bed. In March, river flow was high enough that I had to wade knee-deep, holding the dog under one arm and the bike with the other.

You can head upstream in the creek channel. I suggest packing hiking shoes. Don't do sandals - the rocks will bloody your toes. (Note: a back-country permit is required if you cross the Zion Park border at around N37 22.39 W113 11.33.) Later in summer, you may find the water has lowered to allow riding along the creekbed.

 About a mile upstream from the spot where the trail ends in the creek, the gorge opens up, and you'll again find ATV-track along the creek. If you head southwest on the ATV-track, it connects into Toquerville if you need to bail.

The track along the creek is lush with cactus. These are huge healthy cholla.

If you double back the way you came, you'll reach that T intersection by the river, eyeball the big ugly climb back out of the gorge, then notice the ATV track heading downstream along the creek. You'll think "Hey, I bet this ATV track along the river goes to La Verkin!" Well, yes it does. But until somebody builds a better trail, you don't want to go there. The surface is very loose and sandy. You'll hike across the creek half-dozen times, dragging your bike up slopes of steep soft sand.
Eventually, you can connect with the paved trail in the Trail Ridge Estates subdivision. So far, it's 2.6 miles just to hit Highway 17. Next you take 17 south to Highway 9 and go uphill and back north, for 2.7 highway miles back to the trailhead. That's 5.3 crappy miles and 650 vertical feet, to avoid 2.8 miles (the ugly steep is only 1/3 mile) and 450 vertical. Just suck up and climb that hill.
River Rat adventure:
0.0  At parking, trail is doubletrack on left, heading north
0.3  Keep straight (R)   N37 13.891 W113 15.211
0.4  Keep straight (L)   N37 13.992 W113 15.207
       Right climbs up into wash (nice out-and-back)
0.6  Drop L into wash, downhill, then out on R
1.1  Keep right at fork  N37 14.449 W113 15.398
1.6  Drop L into wash, downhill, then out on R
2.5  Left steep downhill    N37 15.042 W113 15.268
2.8  R just before creek     N37 15.093 W113 15.525
3.0  1st of several creek-crossings
4.6  Enter creek channel, canyon narrows
       N37 16.315 W113 14.983
6.3  Canyon opens; jeep road on L    N37 17.268 W113 15.034
       Options: bail to Toquerville, go up canyon, back down
Out-and-back Moenkopi cruiser:
0.0  At parking, trail is doubletrack on left, heading north
0.3  Keep straight (R)   N37 13.891 W113 15.211
0.4  Keep straight (L)   N37 13.992 W113 15.207
       Right climbs up into wash (nice out-and-back)
0.6  Drop L into wash, downhill, then out on R
1.1  Keep right at fork  N37 14.449 W113 15.398
1.6  Drop L into wash, downhill, then out on R
2.5  R on fainter ATV-track    N37 15.042 W113 15.268
       (L = down to creek)
3.4  At viewpoint, turn around    N37 15.532 W113 15.241
6.8  Back at car
Getting there:  From I-15, take either the Toquerville (if southbound) or Hurricane (if coming up from St George) exits. Go to La Verkin. At the traffic light where Highway 9 meets Highway 17, head east (toward Zion National Park).  Exactly 1.7 miles after the light, you'll crest the top of the bluff. Immediately look for the dirt road on the left. Drive 0.1 mile to a broad dirt area. (In 3/08, there was a shooting club sign and a dumpster.) Park here, N37 13.663 W113 15.145. The trailhead is the dirt doubletrack heading straight north (on the left side of the parking area).

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide:   View
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
     Garmin      GPX     Map datum WGS 84
Large-format topo map (700K):  View
Lodging, camping, shops:
   Links to St. George area resources

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