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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 May to 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.

Update 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 north.

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.

As we 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 reservoir.

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.

View 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 other direction.

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 strata.

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 Hollow trailhead.
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 trailhead.

Riding resources:
One-page trail guide
GPS track file (right-click and "Save as..."):
     Red Mountain track point-to-point only  
     Red Mountain Loop ride
     Multi-track area GPX file
Area H-Res topo for printing:  View
Lodging, camping, shops:  Links to Cedar City area resources

Copyright 2001 Mad Scientist Software Inc
Updated 2010