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Sidewinder Trail
Santa Clara River Preserve, includes Precipice Trail

The Sidewinder Trail is a short but fun upper-intermediate singletrack in the Santa Clara River Preserve. It forks off the Barrel Roll trail. The Precipice Trail is a short (0.8) mile connector between the Cove Wash trailhead and the beginning of the Sidewinder.

View northwest as we climb over rocks along the cliff edge. Photos and original review April 14, 2009 by Bruce.

The trail is shaped like a lariat, with a small loop at the summit. The name Sidewinder comes from the trail's shape -- it has a zigzag shape like a snake's body, with the small loop forming the head. Out-and-back, the trail is 3.0 miles. Connecting via the shortest route from the trailhead, the total ride will be 4.8 miles.

As the trail zigs back to the south side of the ridge, we get this alternate view.

The pitch of the trail is fairly pleasant, although it's a bit steeper than Barrel Roll, rising 350 feet over a mile. Total climbing will be 500 feet from the Cove Wash trailhead.

As we climb higher, we can see over the mesa to the north. There's Ivins, then Snow Canyon, then the white cliffs above the highway, then the Pine Valley Mountains. At the left side of the mesa, you can just make out the curved streak of the west end of the Barrel Roll trail.

The loop at the top is best done counterclockwise. There's a steep "90-degrees plus a ledge" feature that's hard to clear when done uphill in the clockwise direction.

Sidewinder's resident gila monster. Photo swiped from Neil, April 2011.

The trail has more technical features than Barrel Roll. Most won't slow down a skilled rider. At the top of the loop, there's a fairly gnarly steep turn on rock near the cliff edge that's tricky in either direction. Most of the trail, though, is straight-ahead cranking on smooth narrow singletrack.

Gene Poncelet reaches the loop fork at the top of Sidewinder in February 2011.

Jackie demonstrates the path over the boulders.
Very do-able, but will stop an intermediate rider.
View from the top, looking over the badlands toward
the north and the Santa Clara River.

This trail is a lot of fun, but it's a pretty quick ride. Most riders will do it as an add-on to the Barrel Roll trail. If you're looking for more rocky stuff, the Rim Rock Trail system is just south of Cove Wash. At the top of the loop, Suicidal Tendencies crosses to the mesa to the south.

The trail descends past oddly-shaped boulders. This is the same Shinarump layer found on the Zen Trail and at Gooseberry Mesa and Little Creek.

The Precipice Trail is a 0.8 mile trail from the Barrel Roll trailhead to the Sidewinder Trail, joining the trail about 100 feet from its fork off Barrel Roll. The trail follows the same general course as clockwise Barrel Roll, but is a little straighter. It lies in a hollow between two rows of rock outcrops, with the Barrel Roll trail at the top of the higher outcrop. Keep to the left as you exit the parking area.

Jackie sneaks along the Precipice Trail to get GPS track files and maps for you, even before the trail is finished.

By using the Precipice trail for your climb and descent, there's a nice out-and-back from the Barrel Roll (Cove Wash) Trailhead. Ride Precipice to Sidewinder, loop around the end, then head back the way you came, saving Barrel Roll for your next ride.

As of 4/15/09, the Precipice trail had two unfinished sections: 150 yd and 100 yards. In 2010, the trail was completed.

Riding notes, out-and-back Sidewinder:
0.0   Start on Barrel Roll Tr
        N37 07.250 W113 40.503
        Take L fork of Barrel Roll loop
             - or -
        Fork L to Precipice ( if finished)
0.9   Fork L for Sidewinder if on Barrel Roll
        N37 07.404 W113 41.157
0.95 Pass Precipice if coming from Barrel Roll
        (Keep R if already on Sidewinder)
        If on Precipice, fork L on Sidewinder
        N37 07.384 W113 41.154
2.4   At loop, pick a direction
        N37 07.336 W113 41.787
2.7   Finish loop, descend
4.0   If Precipice is finished, fork R
        N37 07.384 W113 41.154
        If not, ride 60 ft, R on Barrel Roll
4.8   Back at parking
Getting there:  In St. George, head north on Bluff Street and turn left on Sunset Blvd. Drive 3 miles west on Sunset through Santa Clara. As you're reaching the end of Santa Clara, look for a road crossing the river on your left. It's about 200 feet before the Jacob Hamblin Home (which will be on your right if you pass the turn). Turn and cross the river and follow the road as it turns right. About 0.4 miles from Hwy 191 (just after the road veers right), turn left uphill onto the dirt Stucki Springs road.
At mile 0.7, turn right at the sign "Santa Clara Preserve" or "Cove Wash Trailhead." Pass the water tank, and at mile 1.3, turn right again through the fence toward the trailhead. This road will veer left to a log fenced parking area at mile 1.5, N37 07.253 W113 40.508. Connecting by bike from Green Valley (5 track options): GPX
There's a singletrack trail you can ride from the valley to the trailhead. After crossing the river and following the road as it turns right, pass the dirt Stucki Springs road. About 100 feet past the road, a doubletrack heads obliquely westward uphill on the left, turning quickly into singletrack heading up along the wash. at about 1/3 mile, keep R at the fork (L rejoins the road). The trail will climb up and west of the water tank, then join the road right at the fence of the preserve.
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
    GPX sidewinder only  Ride w B.R. up, SW, down Precipice 
     Map datum WGS 84
St.George southwest, interactive map:  Load 
Wider-area topo (300 KB):  View
Lodging, camping, shops:
   Links to St. George area resources

Copyright 2009 Mad Scientist Software Inc
Updated 2011