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Snakepit

The Snakepit Trail joins the eastern and western sides of the Stucki Spring trail. On the eastern end, it forks off Stucki Spring about 1/3 mile from the beginning of Stucki Spring at Clavicle Hill. On the western end, it rejoins Stucki Spring as it heads along the western side of the Bearclaw Poppy preserve, about halfway between Stucki Springs itself and the Cottonwood Wash overlook.

View on the trail as Snakepit climbs up the wash. Photos December 8, 2011 by Bruce.

The Snakepit Trail itself is only 2.3 miles long. But it must be combined with other trails in order to reach it, so your minimum mountain bike ride will be around 10 miles. The eastern two miles of the Snakepit Trail lie in a branch of Cottonwood Wash. There may be occasional spots of standing water in the winter and early spring. On the western end, it curves and dips through a scrub desert.

Looking to the east, near the point where Snakepit forks off the Stucki Springs trail. The red mesa is Bloomington Hill.

The trail surface is easier intermediate technical. It's suitable for experienced beginners. (There's one steep side-slope that can be avoided by taking the southern fork in the wash -- see the map.) Beginners should start from Bloomington to avoid the tougher stuff on the northern Bearclaw Poppy trail.

Cruising along in the wash on Snakepit.

The Snakepit Trail is often used as an alternative to the southern side of the Stucki Spring loop. You can insert this trail into just about any ride that uses Stucki Spring. In late winter, Snakepit (or Snakepit Rim) may be ready to ride when the southern limb of Stucki is still a bog of wet white clay. Do NOT ride these trails when muddy -- the white clay trail sections especially are easily damaged.

Snakepit photo courtesy Shelby Meinkey in 2010.

For a simple ride, start at Bloomington and take the Microloop to Stucki. Then ride uphill on Snakepit, returning by the southern limb of Stucki. Now blaze down the eastern half of Bearclaw Poppy back to the Bloomington trailhead. This ride is described on the Bloomington Microloop page.

Near the western end of Snakepit, the trail begins to pull out of the wash.

On this page I describe a longer ride that uses Snakepit and the Snakepit Rim trail. I'm calling it the Snakepit Pretzel Ride. See the by-the-mile description below. It starts on Bearclaw from the Green Valley trailhead, then turns east on the Stucki Connector to reach Stucki Spring. Then it follows Stucki to Snakepit and drops down Snakepit to rejoin Stucki. From there, it proceeds to Clavicle Hill.

Heading toward the western side of the Stucki Spring trail, we're looking at the Pine Valley Mountains.

At Clavicle Hill, the route forks west on the Snakepit Rim, which parallels the northern edge of the wash in which Snakepit runs. It will rejoin Snakepit in two miles. When Snakepit reaches Stucki, fork hard left and follow Stucki to the Cottonwood Wash overlook, then continue on Stucki all the way back to Clavicle Hill. This time, climb up the Acid Drops to head home on the Bearclaw Poppy trail. This ride is 17.1 miles total.

After taking Snakepit to Stucki Spring, we're going to descend from the Cottonwood Wash overlook on a high-speed run along the edge of the wash.

Snakepit Rim can be a little hard to find. There are many interconnecting trails on the west side of the Acid Drops. The most certain way to find the Snakepit Rim trail is on the western end. Ride the Snakepit Trail from the west side of the Stucki Spring trail. You'll be heading east. After 1/2 mile on Snakepit (before you head into the wash), you'll reach a trail fork. The more-traveled trail on the right is the continuation of Snakepit; the left trail is Snakepit Rim.

We're just west of Clavicle Hill looking northwest. The trails can be confusing. Keep your sense of direction and go in the direction that makes the most sense. 

To find the eastern end of Snakepit Rim for an east to west ride, go to Clavicle Hill. Just below Clavicle Hill (on your left if you dropped down) is a trail heading west. Below the next drop is another trail to the west. These trails meet after about 100 yards at a three-way intersection. At the junction, take the trail on the left that traverses around the little hill heading west. Don't go up the wash -- this third trail heads up to connectors that rejoin Bearclaw above Clavicle Hill.

Looking north from the Snakepit Rim trail.

Once you're on the westbound trail, stay straight and generally left. Any forks to the right (heading toward the mesa) will go on to join the Stucki Cutoff trail. Two trails that head straight south at 90 degrees to Snakepit Rim drop down to the Snakepit Trail. (Note: Please don't follow faint little trails! This area is a preserve to protect the endangered Bearclaw Poppy. And it already has enough tracks to thoroughly confuse riders.)

Nice rolling desert riding...

Bottom line:
Snakepit is a fun trail that offers a variation on the desert riding in the area. If there's deep water in the wash, Snakepit Rim offers an alternative path. Of the two trails, Snakepit is definitely more interesting. The 17-mile Snakepit Pretzel ride described below lets you hit both trails, plus the best part of Stucki Springs.

View into Snakepit from a viewpoint on the Stucki Springs trail.

Snakepit Pretzel Ride from Bearclaw:
0.0   From upper Bearclaw TH, uphill
        N37 05.337 W113 38.431
0.4   L across stepover gate
        N37 05.171 W113 38.829
1.1   L on Stucki Cutoff connector
        N37 04.788 W113 39.054
1.4   Two trails join on L, stay R westbound
        N37 04.770 W113 39.362
2.8   Keep R at three forks over 0.2 mi
        N37 05.534 W113 40.241
3.5   At Stucki Spring, L and southwest
        N37 05.985 W113 40.561
4.0   L on Snakepit N37 05.661 W113 40.933
4.6   Keep R on Snakepit
        N37 05.185 W113 40.833
        (L = Snakepit Rim)
6.4   Join Stucki, keep L
        N37 04.272 W113 39.590
6.6   4-way, go L on Stucki
        N37 04.157 W113 39.391
6.7   Below Clavicle Hill, fork L
        N37 04.212 W113 39.313
        On Snakepit Rim
6.8   Keep L N37 04.278 W113 39.326
7.1  Keep straight N37 04.361 W113 39.509
8.9   Keep straight, join Snakepit
        N37 05.185 W113 40.833
9.6   L on Stucki N37 05.661 W113 40.933
11.2 Cottonwood Wash view, go L
        N37 05.232 W113 42.140
13.9 Keep R on Stucki
        N37 04.621 W113 40.244
14.9 Keep R as Snakepit joins
        N37 04.272 W113 39.590
15.1 4-way again, go L
        N37 04.157 W113 39.391
15.2 Climb to top of Clavicle Hill, go N
        N37 04.222 W113 39.304
        Head back on Bearclaw
16.0 Back at first fork N37 04.788 W113 39.054
17.1 Back at parking
For mile-by-mile of Bloomington-Snakepit Figure-8 ride, see Bloomington Microloop page.
Getting there, Bearclaw trailhead: Take the Bluff Street I-15 exit in St. George and turn west. Immediately turn south (left). Go over the hill and turn right on Dixie Drive. Keep straight past the golf course and some businesses. Turn left at the sign for Green Valley Spa. (If you reach a "Green Valley Market" with gas pumps, you just passed it. Turn around and backtrack to the second road on your right.) Drive past the spa and park at the end of the road to start your ride, or drive down into the valley to park at the official Bearclaw Poppy trailhead. From the top of the mesa, head down into the broad valley. Climb the wide dirt road on the north (right) side of the little sandstone canyon. About 1/2 mile up the road, keep going through the gate at the parking area.
Bloomington trailhead:  Go to the west end of Navajo Drive in Bloomington. Go across the cattle guard. See the low rail on the fence 100 feet to your right? That's the trailhead. N 37 03.116'  W 113 37.362'. Start out on Bearclaw Poppy, and fork left on the mini-loop about 1/3 mile later.
Riding resources for Snakepit:
Maps for printing:
     Snakepit (with Pretzel Ride) map
     Low-res (quick download) area map    High-res area map (1.3 MB) - NICE!
Track GPX files (to download, right-click and select "Save target as..."):
       Monster file of area tracks and alternates!     Snakepit only
       Bloomington Snakepit to Stucki Figure-8       Snakepit Pretzel Ride

Quick on-trail guide:  Single-page guide Bloomington Figure-8   Single-page guide Pretzel Ride
Lodging, camping, shops:     Links to St. George area resources

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