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Little Creek Mountain

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Little Creek Mountain is a flat-top mesa 18 miles east of Hurricane, 10 miles south of its more famous twin Gooseberry Mesa. Like Gooseberry, Little Creek has technical singletrack mixed with areas of open rock. 

Chad Hunter pauses his K2 on the edge of the Shinarump caprock at the mesa's west end. To the north, Gooseberry mesa rises above the valley floor. Photo by Bruce Argyle November 11, 2001

There are two well-traveled interconnected loops of 10 and 6 miles, plus an awesome out-and-back off the Sandstone Canyon Loop. Linked together, a big loop offers 15 miles of advanced riding. At 5600 feet average elevation, there's little vertical change over the course of the trail.

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The open rock is rolling sandstone and conglomerate of the Shinarump member of the Chinle Formation (Triassic Period, about 245 million years ago). This is great rock riding, without the brutal climbs that are seen at Moab's Slickrock. Everything is on a smaller scale here, making for a gazillion stunt opportunities.

Jon, Jamie, and Keith cross a typical section of Little Creek's rock.

The singletrack portions wind through pinion, juniper, gooseberry, and manzanita. The trail zigs and zags over small outcrops of rock, and is fairly (but not horrendously) technical.

In summer this area is hot (although about 10 degrees cooler than the valley below). Take plenty of water. In the winter, the trail is open all but a handful of days.

Typical singletrack trail section shows firm dirt base alternating with sections of rock, as the trail winds through pinion and juniper.

This trail system is new, and can be a little difficult to navigate. The trail is marked by cairns (small rockpiles). If you don't have a guide, allow extra time to find trail markers -- and carry a GPS so you can walk the bike back to your car if you're totally lost.

View down the slickrock canyon. Stunts galore -- pick your level of difficulty.

The West Mesa Loop was fairly well-marked. The Slickrock Canyon Loop has been easy, or extremely hard, to follow. Riders mark the trail with cairns, then buttwipes come along and toss the rocks aside to hide the route. It can be very hard to navigate if you don't know where you're going.

Ride Notes Caveat! You may spend a bit of time rolling around in slickrock areas, looking for the next trail marker. Or you may play on the rock a bit. So your mileage may be substantially higher than what I've listed. I suggest you take a GPS unit and periodically "recalibrate" your mileage.

Ride Notes, West Mesa Loop clockwise:
0.0  Continue south on doubletrack from parking
0.2  Singletrack forks right, uphill and into trees
0.6  Just after crossing doubletrack,
       open rock on left
       trail forks here N 37 03.821' W 113 13.606'
       Go Left = singletrack to west edge of mesa
       (Straight = to slickrock loop)
1.1  Return trail comes on right at wash bottom
       Go straight N 37 03.737' W 113 13.994'
4.0  Subtle fork on rock; if you reach cliffs going
       south, go back 1/4 mile

Chad rolls down a Shinarump ramp.

4.2  Reach western edge of mesa, ride north along cliff
       N 37 04.166' W 113 15.154'
6.0  Leave cliffs to head east
8.1  Trail forks, go right to complete loop
       N 37 04.488' W 113 13.405'
       (Left = to slickrock loop, see below)
9.1  Trail crosses open rock canyon to your left
9.4  Join doubletrack, straight downhill
       N 37 03.797' W 113 13.792'
9.5  Hard left in bottom of wash, onto rock
9.9  Back at first trail fork, right uphill into trees
10.5 At parking

Chad takes a wheelie-drop off a ledge (while the rest of us take the easy way around).  November 11, 2001.

Big Loop (Sandstone Canyon) Option:
8.1   Fork left from West Mesa Loop (see above)
8.7   Slickrock canyon, fork north for out-and-back
        to north edge of mesa
        (Nov 2001 - poorly marked, follow contours)
10.5  Arrive at cliff edge at north end of mesa, turn back
12.2  Fork left (east) uphill to leave slickrock canyon
         Wind around and turn back south
          N 37 04.719' W 113 12.754'
          Follow contour around canyon back to east
          Drop into slot canyon

Matt Flygare drops off a ledge. November 23, 2001.

13.7  Just after climbing tough switchback, trail forks right
         N 37 04.418' W 113 13.000'
        (Left = alternate loop, see at right)
14.7  Back at first trail fork, straight uphill into trees
15.3  Back at parking
Notes on alternate loop, clockwise:
Going straight (left), trail turns right (south) at 0.1
N 37 04.387' W 113 12.882'
At mile 0.8, critical fork N 37 04.154' W 113 13.165'
(hard to see!) go right and up (left = trail to northeast)
At 0.9, rejoins other route at N 37 04.157' W 113 13.255'
Ride Notes, Slickrock Canyon Loop counterclockwise:
0.0  Continue south on doubletrack from parking area
0.2  Singletrack forks off right, uphill and into trees
0.6  Just after crossing doubletrack, open rock on left
       N 37 03.821' W 113 13.606', keep straight
       ( Left = singletrack to west edge of mesa)
1.1  Fork at end of rock area, keep left
       N 37 04.157' W 113 13.255'
       (Right = south end of alternate loop, see below right)

There are many opportunities to try stunts of various difficulty. Matt does a bunny-hop with a twist.

1.6  Fork in trail, go left and downhill
       N 37 04.714' W 113 13.019'
       (Right = north end of alternate loop)
1.7  Up into canyon (left)
1.8  Around slot canyon, follow opposite side northeast
Notes on alternate loop, counterclockwise:
Riding north, trail forks 0.1 mile later
at N 37 04.154' W 113 13.165', keep left
(Right = trail heads east then north, fairly technical)
Turns left at 0.8, N 37 04.387' W 113 12.882'
to rejoin the other route at 0.9 (keep right)
2.0  Large open rock area, follow contour north
       (This area is poorly marked - Nov 2001)
2.5  Turn left and drop into slickrock canyon
       N 37 04.719' W 113 12.754'
       Left and up = return loop
       Across wash then right = to Point
           1.75 miles to Point, add 3.5 to mileage below
            Point GPS N 37 05.240' W 113 12.339'
3.1  At top of canyon, south over summit
       N 37 04.714' W 113 13.019'

Chad drops six feet off the roof of a cave. Little Creek offers more varied terrain, bigger spaces of open rock, and a greater variety of stunts than Gooseberry.

3.7  At trail fork N 37 04.488' W 113 13.405'
       Left = return
       (Right = to West Mesa Loop in reverse)
4.7  Trail crosses open rock canyon to your left
5.0  Join doubletrack, straight downhill
       N 37 03.797' W 113 13.792'
5.1  Hard left in bottom of wash, onto rock
5.5  Back at first trail fork, right uphill into trees
6.1 At parking

Here Chad shows the mere mortals how one descends from the rock. 

Note, Summer 2002:  While the two basic loops are well-marked, the cairns that mark the route from the slickrock canyon to The Point are sometimes tough to spot. (Some bike-haters removed the cairns  in 2003 -- the trail has been re-marked, but there aren't as many rockpiles to guide you.) If you're not an adventuresome sort, our suggestion is that you link up with somebody who knows the route. It can be difficult to find your way through this slickrock maze.

Note, Fall 2003:  A new trail has been routed to a second "point" at the tip of the mesa. It continues north from The Point above. It's still a bit soft in the dirt areas, but not hard to follow. Be warned: there are some dangerous cliff-side turns requiring expert riding skills. The new trail section ends at cliff's edge at N 37 05.692' W 113 12.390'.

Getting there:  On Highway 9 at the east end of Hurricane, turn south on US-59 and zero your odometer. One block later, turn left (east) and begin climbing up out of the Hurricane Valley. 13.2 miles later, turn right on gravel road. 14.1 turn right; 14.9 keep right; 16.0 keep left; 16.4 keep left; 18.5 continue straight across cattleguard; 19.5 turn right (critical turn where corral is on your left, leave the main road); 20.1 bear left. At 21.0, cross 3rd cattle guard; 21.5 road reaches slickrock, park here (GPS N 37 03.586' W 113 13.528'). Begin the ride by heading down the road (the singletrack forks off on the right 0.2 miles later).

For printable one-page riding guides:
      West Mesa Loop and Big Loop Clockwise
      Sandstone Canyon Loop Counterclockwise

GPS Track files (right-click as "Save as..."):
      GPX     Garmin 
    
(Track files don't include spur to point at this time)
Lodging, camping, shops:
      Links to St. George area resources

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