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 (see
View north as Bruce skirts the cliff edge on a
smoother stretch of Sidewinder. Photos and original review April 14, 2009 by Bruce.
Latest update March 2017.
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 from its origin on Barrel Roll, the Sidewinder 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. But it's a bit steeper
than Barrel Roll, rising 350 feet over a mile. Total climbing will be 500
feet for a ride from the Cove Wash trailhead via Barrel Roll, up
Sidewinder, and back down.
Sidewinder's resident gila monster.
Photo swiped from Neil, April 2011. Haven't seen a real sidewinder here
Because the trail goes back and forth between the north and
south sides of the mesa, there will be frequent pretty views. To the north
are Ivins, the red cliffs near Snow Canyon, and the Pine Valley Mountains.
Looking east downhill, you see Green Valley and Black Hill. On the south
rim are views of the mesas and badlands of the Stucki Springs area.
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 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
Bruce fights through an area of technical rock in
The loop at the top -- the sidewinder's head in snake terms
-- 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.
Gene Poncelet reaches the loop fork at
the top of Sidewinder in February 2011.
On the south side of Sidewinder's loop is the connection to the Suicidal
Tendencies trail. This has become a popular ride, but it's not to be
taken lightly. If you add this option, your climbing will be 1500 vertical
feet and your distance 13 miles. And the riding gets even more techy.
Rolling one of the many turns on Sidewinder.
If the above video does not appear on your
browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking
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.
The Precipice Trail is a 0.8 mile trail from Barrel Roll to the Sidewinder
Trail. It's my favorite route to Sidewinder. It forks left from Barrel
Roll about 100 feet from the Cove Wash trailhead, then joins Sidewinder about 100 feet from
its origin off the south side of the Barrel Roll loop.
Bruce cruises outbound from the Cove
Wash trailhead on Precipice.
Precipice is a bit more technical than Barrel Roll. There
are some tight steep-ish turns and a bit of rock banging. There's a
section with steep side-slope. The trail follows the same general westward
course as clockwise Barrel Roll. But instead of climbing the smoother
terrain on top of the hill, it navigates between two rows of rock outcrops
below the top cliff-line.
Climbing into a couple
of tight rock slots on the steep sidehill.
When you reach the Sidewinder trail fork, go left to climb
Sidewinder. (Or right then left to ride Barrel Roll clockwise.)
By using the Precipice trail for your climb and descent, is makes a nice
Sidewinder five-mile out-and-back from the trailhead.
Ride Precipice to Sidewinder, loop around the end, then head back the way
you came, saving Barrel Roll for your next ride.
Bruce rails one of several semi-tough uphill turns on
The Precipice-Sidewinder route 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. Or as the
connection to Suicidal
Tendencies for a bigger tougher ride.
And if you're
looking for more rocky stuff, the Rim Rock Trail
system is just south of Cove Wash.
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.
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
Fork L to Precipice ( if
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
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
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.