||Little Purgatory Loop
Includes Historic Babylon Trail
This is a 6-mile loop with 1000 vertical feet of climbing, located just
east of Leeds (about 10 miles north of St. George). The loop is best done
counterclockwise, with a climb on the Historic Babylon Trail and a
technical descent on Little Purgatory.
Looking northeast at outcrops of
Navajo sandstone from the Historic Babylon trail. Review and photos from a
ride January 28, 2011. Thanks to Shelby Meinkey, who explored this loop
and found it worthy.
|This ride requires advanced skills. The climb is fairly
strenuous, with one mile at 500 vertical per mile with a couple of tech
spots. The descent has a mile of tricky rock that requires advanced tech
From the Historic Babylon trailhead,
we'll be riding through the slot in the reef, crossing the creek several
time (left in the photo).
||The ride starts from the bottom of Grapevine Wash.
Immediately, you'll join the creek as it cuts through the rock of East
Within the first 1/3 mile, you'll do several creek crossings. Riding in
January, we found about 8 inches of flowing water and some very sticky mud
on the creek banks. But it was possible to ride right through. The creek
might be dry later in the year.
The trail crosses and re-crosses the
creek several times before it reaches the loop.
|As you enter the narrow sandstone slot about 200 feet from
the trailhead, there are petroglyphs on the sandstone. Look to your left,
about 10 feet up.
||The trail climbs through rocky scrub, contouring around the
hill to the northeast. The toughest part of the climb is about mile two,
as the pitch gets steeper and the riding gets a little more technical.
Mike attacks a steep tech section on
the climb up Historic Babylon.
|The slope flattens as you arrive at the top. There are views
to the west of Leeds and Silver Reef, with the Pine Valley Mountains
Derek leads the group across the top
of the mountain with Mark close behind. The Pine Valley Mountains form the
||As you descend via the Little Purgatory trail, the
mountainside is steep as the trail switchbacks down toward the Virgin
River. There are sections of very technical riding. The challenge is
finding the right line, quickly, as you maintain enough speed to bang over
the rock. This will get easier as more bikers find this trail and the
lines get ridden-in.
View south at the meanders of the
Virgin River as it approaches Quail Creek Reservoir.
|I'd recommend this loop for strong and experienced technical
riders. The loop is pretty quick, so it makes a good late afternoon
"on the way into town" ride. I'd rate it both more technical and
more strenuous than Zen, which some of the riding resembles. But I'd rank
it just below Zen in overall fun factor.
Wheel-traps and fun hazards are nearly
continuous for a mile of downhill. Mark makes a sudden stop.
||Riding notes, counterclockwise loop:
0.0 Step over at gate and ride toward sandstone slot
N37 12.116 W113 20.930
Petroglyphs high on your L on
Several creek crossings
0.4 Keep straight (R) on Historic Babylon
N37 12.330 W113 20.958
0.5 Keep L as alternate TH path joins
1.8 Tough climb up canyon
2.3 Fence, left uphill
3.5 Summit, descend on Little Babylon
4.1 Tech stuff
5.4 At fork, L to trailhead
5.8 Back at TH
From Little Babylon, view east at
hoodoos in front of the Virgin River gorge.
Note: the Leeds/Silver Reef I-15 exit is split in two, with each part 1.7
miles away on opposite ends of the town of Leeds. Southbound OFF and
northbound ON are located north of Leeds. Northbound OFF and southbound ON
are south of Leeds.
Northbound from St. George, take the Leeds/Silver Reef exit. Drive north
1.7 miles through Leeds and continue north on the frontage road as you
pass the freeway on-ramp. Southbound on I-15, take the Leeds/Silver Reef
exit and turn left under the freeway, then left on the frontage road. From
the northern I-15 access, drive north on the frontage road (east of the
freeway) for 0.7 miles. Now turn right on a gravel road signed for Little
Babylon and Sand Cove. Pass the Sand Cove parking area (on your left) at
mile 3. Pass the alternate trailhead on your right at mile 3.5. After
descending down a wash, park at the Little Babylon trailhead, 4 miles from
the freeway access road.
The dirt road to Little Purgatory has soft sandy
sections. A car with four-wheel drive capability and reasonable clearance
is recommended. As with other dirt roads in the area, please don't go when
|Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide: View
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
datum WGS 84
Topo map for printing (500K): View
Lodging, camping, shops: Links to St.
George area resources
Bathroom: Sand Cove trailhead
Water: bring your own
Camping: Sand Cove
Bike services: St. George
Copyright 2011 UtahMountainBiking.com