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