Red Mountain Trail
The Red Mountain Loop Trail is just outside of Cedar City.
Because it's lower in altitude (6000 feet) than most trails in the area, it's free of snow from
November. It's a short loop singletrack with some advanced technical riding.
Although only 3 miles in length, this isn't a cushy ride. Top to bottom
altitude change is only 200 feet, but there are countless quick ups and
downs, plus a relatively strenuous half-mile grunt in each direction.
View up into the riding area. Vertical
fins of rock create rockin' rollin' technical riding as the singletrack
winds through the area. Photos by Bruce
Argyle, July 23, 2001. Updated GPS track and riding info in November
2010, new tracks added 2016.
The BLM is developing a formal sanctioned trail system in this area. Some
of the Red Mountain trail's alignment may change to meet sustainability
standards. Approximately 17 miles of new trail will be developed in the
immediate area and added to improved versions of 7 miles of existing trail
(includes ATV routes). There will be trailheads in Fiddler's Canyon and on the
east side of the Cedar Ridge golf course, as well as an expanded Red
Mountain trailhead at the location below. The first new trail is "Thors
Hideout" in the Thunderbird Gardens area southeast of the golf
course, open for riding now.
|The trail winds around in a wash, then climbs up onto sharp
fins of dirt and rock. The turns are quick and constant; the sudden (but
brief) uphills are often brutal stand-on-the-pedals-and-grunt; and the
downhills have a definite thrill-factor. This trail is a good workout, and
it's a riot to ride.
We've just climbed out of the wash and
are looking back south. A highly technical alternate downhill route is via
the fin on the right. It starts pleasant, but gets hairy at the end.
||Since my original ride 15 years ago, ATVs, motos, and DHers
have created many alternate lines. Navigation isn't so easy now. If you
can't follow my GPS track to the golf course, plan to explore a few dead
ends. Most riders just putter around; the classic loop ride (as described
below) is done less often now.
View from the loop fork. Northbound, you'll go west
(left) of this little razorback mountain. Southbound, you'll come back
along the little valley at mid-right in the photo.
|When the trail reaches a ridgeline and turns to the left, go
to the next mountain and find trail traversing the hill. (The first ATV
track was your return route.) Just remember that, in general, you're heading
As you enter the little valley south of the golf course, work to the
east (right). ATV track will take you up a wash to the Thunderbird Gardens
road. Turn right. Look for another ATV route southbound across from the
flood-control pond. Follow this south back to the ridgeline, where you'll
pick up your uphill track. You're going around that sharp little mountain in
the photo above.
In the middle of the ride, the trail
rises to its highest point on this fin, before descending sharply. Looking
north, we see the farming areas north of Cedar City.
||The "badlands" over which this trail passes are sedimentary
deposits from the Triassic Period -- the age of reptiles, mammal-like
reptiles, and the first bipedal dinosaurs. The steep tilt of the sediment
planes was caused by "dragging" of blocks of rock by the
Hurricane Fault, a southern version of the Wasatch Fault that separates
the Great Basin from the mountains of eastern Utah.
This dirt erodes readily, rearranging the terrain. Add ATVs and
motorcycles. So if my ride description makes no sense, it's because things
have changed. Fortunately, civilization isn't far away, so if you get
hopelessly lost, just head downhill.
Rabbitbrush blooms at the trailside.
|In the summer, you'll want to hit this trail early in the
morning. 8 a.m. temperatures often are in the low 60's, yet by 10 a.m. are
climbing into the 80s. Because you'll be working hard, the cool
temperature is very comfortable.
near the northernmost end of the ride, we're going to head up this wash to
Thunderbird Gardens road, then catch southbound track by the catch-basin
You may be a bit timid the first run around the loop. That's
OK. Scout the territory, then "tear it up" on the second loop. I
guarantee, two loops will make you feel like you've had a ride.
on the eastern limb of the loop. Rolling ATV track. On the clockwise ride,
there are a couple of steepish plunges that would be push-a-bikes in the
Once you've finished a loop or two around the hill, you can plummet down the
wash back to Highway 14 (assuming you started there). This is great fun, and
worth doing more than once. Watch out for upbound traffic on the turns!
A typical trail segment, as the trail
plummets and twists down the wash southbound. Note the vertical orientation of the rock
You may have noticed some singletrack trails forking off to the west.
These "social trails" head for the sharp fins of rock at the top
of the ridges. I'm NOT going to help you find them. You can quickly find
yourself way over your head. Actually, you may find your bike over your
head and broken limbs under your body. For example, there's one route with
100 yards of one-foot wide tech ribbon atop a sharp fin -- you can't stop,
so you keep going or you get hurt. I'm not saying I rode this
probably-illegal trail, but I swear I'll never ever do it again.
Looking north down a fin from a spot
where it isn't so deadly.
|Riding notes, clockwise loop:
0.0 start up doubletrack in wash, find ST in bottom of wash
follow main path up wash (don't take any side
routes -- they're DH)
0.6 trail forks at top of ridge, turn left N37 40.799 W113 02.721
keep R at next intersections N37 40.730 W113 02.788
0.8 onto razorback ridges, avoid drop-off routes
1.2 descending off ridge, stay northbound
watch for sharp right turn onto dirt road N37 41.222 W113 03.142
1.4 work east as you approach the golf course
1.5 right onto gravel road N37 41.371 W113 02.991
1.7 Go right on DT at the flood reservoir
Southbound to ridge
2.0 Back at fork on pass, descend into wash vs R to razorback
2.4 back at fork on top of ridge, go left and descend into wash
3.0 back at trailhead
||Getting there, SR 14 Trailhead: On Cedar City's Main Street, turn east
(towards the mountains) on Center Street, Highway 14. Travel 0.9 mile from the
turn. Note the dirt doubletrack on the left. Find a place to park (most
bikers use the truck-turnaround 100 yards up the road on the right).
Trailhead GPS is N 37° 40.441' W 113° 02.735'. Note: the larger parking
area further uphill (just past The Red Hill) is the Red
Northern trailhead: As you drive east from Main Street on SR 14, turn left
on Highland Drive about 0.1 miles after crossing Coal Creek. Continue to
the "T" intersection south of the golf coarse and turn right. As
the road dead-ends by Dirt Foothills Drive, park. Start the ride
northbound on DT, keeping right of the flood basin. The path will veer
right around the base of the hill. The ATV path dropping through the wash
southbound (to your right) is the Red Mountain Trail.
Alternate, Rainbow Canyon: On SR 14, drive east. After crossing Coal
Creek, turn left on Highland Drive. Turn right at Rainbow Canyon. Continue
straight onto dirt road at Dirt Foothills Drive. Park in the elevated area
about 100 yards from pavement. Start the ride in the washbottom. Veer left
to join Red Mountain (the right fork takes you into a dead-end valley or
up onto terrifying high fins).
No water, camping, or bathrooms at any