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Three Peaks Trail System
(General riding area and Race Course Loop)

The Three Peaks Trail System has lots of goodies: developed camping, singletrack loops of varying length and difficulty, and technical rock that's definitely worth your attention. This trail system is located near Cedar City at the Three Peaks recreation area. Altitude is around 5800 feet, with peak altitude 6150 for the loop rides. This page covers the general riding area and loop rides. For the Twilight Zone and the "Whale Trails" see the Twilight Zone page. See also specific pages for the Three Peaks Loop and Big Hole Loop.

View east from the Three Peaks Loop. Rough granite outcrops mix with pinion pine and juniper. Original review June 11, 2003. Tracks and topo map updated 2016 by Bruce.

The trail system is located about 6 miles west of Enoch (just northwest of Cedar City), about 10 minutes by car from I-15. The mountain bike parking area is huge, suitable for big events. And the new features and signs added in spring 2015 make this a must-ride destination.

This is the new mountain bike trailhead (photo 2015). There's a bathroom (just outside the picture to the left of my car), water, picnic table, and map kiosk. Around the corner are group camping, picnic and camp spots, a playground, and group pavilion.

Riding season is March through early December, but the trails are often clear of snow and dry during breaks between winter storms. While it's much cooler than St. George, Three Peaks gets hot on mid-summer afternoons.

Cruisin' on the race loop. While the initial view may say "boring sage brush" there's great stuff waiting for you.

The BLM has put a lot of effort into making this area a worthwhile mountain bike destination. Lots and lots of trails both easy and hard; excellent signage; and technical features. But because of the multiple options (and intersections with ATV routes), navigation can be confusing if you don't carry a map with you.

Most stunts and tech features have ride-arounds. Signage is excellent, although in May 2015 it's still being worked on at the south end. While trails can be ridden either direction, some have a definite "flow" to them. No problem, just do the trail both directions.

For technical riding, hit Lost World (see the topo map link below), then meander around until you reach the Whale Trails at the southeast corner. This is primo tech riding. I've always enjoyed Three Peaks, but these new trails and tech features are awesome.

Sample tech feature on Lost World. The post tells you the bridge number (if the numbers are getting smaller, you may be going "against the flow"), the width of the bridge deck in inches, and the overall difficulty of the feature. Photo May 2015.

Large junipers and pink granite compete for space. As the trail crosses rock outcrops, there's some excellent hucking potential here, and you could spend most of the day contentedly attacking the rocks. There are lots and lots of ladder bridges. I'm going to guess 50? So if man-made structures spook you, this is a good place to get some practice. 

Or, you can also spend the day riding mellow cruiser trail with the kids. Your choice. The Three Peaks trail system offers a lot of variety.

Rocks within the picnic/camping area provide lots of entertainment! Here Alex (at age 14) maneuvers through the granite obstacle course. August 2004.

You can construct a variety of loops starting from the mountain bike trailhead. The easiest is the Practice Loop, suitable for kids and newbies.

For intermediate riders, go for the Race Loop. This singletrack climbs up to the ridgeline, then plunges back down. I'd rate it an intermediate technical, but beginners can manage nicely if they walk a couple of very short rocky side-tilted areas on the trail.

On the ridge, Alex and Kristen pause while riding the Race Loop. August 2004.

The by-the-mile riding instructions below are for the Race Loop. For other rides, see their respective trail pages (links below).

And a word about the granite: this fine-grained pink granite presents a riding surface you won't find elsewhere in Utah. The traction is so good that you'll be able to make moves on the granite that you couldn't do on sandstone.

From the Three Peaks Loop, you'll see other mountain ranges, where several mines are visible. The igneous intrusion that created Three Peaks brought iron, which deposited in nearby limestone. (You'll ride through a limestone strata on the northern end of the Loop.)


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The Big Hole Loop is an upper intermediate ride, 7 miles long, with about 500 feet of climbing. The route follows singletrack below a rock-quarry area on the far side of the mountain. A slightly shorter and easier upper route (used for racing) follows doubletrack above the quarry. Specific riding information will be found on the Big Hole Loop trail page.

Some trail markers show a bit of whimsy. You'll see old road bikes, carts, vacuum cleaner, and other weird stuff marking the trail. This Voodoo Tree is found on the Big Hole Loop. There are numerous bike parts, helmets, a skull, a lizard, an eagle, used cow parts, etc.

The Three Peaks Loop  is an advanced ride 10 miles in length, with up-and-down riding equal to about 900 feet of climbing. There are some technical stunts such as Double-take Drop, and some very interesting granite rock under your tires on the southeast side. 

An area of open granite slickrock on Three Peaks Loop. The trees are growing in cracks in the rock.

On the southeast corner of the Three Peaks Loop are the "whale trails." These are advanced-technical trails that, on the fun scale, are equal to anything else in Utah. Short trips through the trees are punctuated by tech challenges on the granite.

If you're in a hurry to get to Petrified Whales, you can take the new (2016) Twilight Zone trail. See the topo map link below.

Coming down a slot in the granite after a tricky climb on Petrified Whales. 

The ladder bridges and tech stunts have turned Three Peaks into a destination ride. You will not be disappointed. Plan to spend a whole day exploring this trail system. It's worth your time.

Ready to rock Four Loco. Tough stuff.

Note that in May 2015, the Four Loco trail shown on the BLM map at the trailhead is not accurate. I'm presuming a safer, saner, more sustainable trail will soon replace the current wild rough route. (For now, I have the GPX track of the old trail in my downloadable multi-trail file if you want to try it. I don't recommend it. It's nasty. Hard to ride and hard to find your way.)

Trail Length Description
Big Hole Loop 3.4 Furthest north of area trails; loops around mountain. Intermediate tech.
Earl's 0.7 Singletrack alternate to west side Race Course or main Three Peaks Loop. Intermediate.
Four Loco 1.4 Wild route off southwest corner of Three Peaks Loop, being replaced. Upper-advanced.
Humpback 0.3 Alternate route within Petrified Whales loop. Advanced tech.
Iron Creek Cutoff 0.9 Singletrack between east and west sides of Three Peaks Loop. Intermediate.
Jumbled Jonah 0.4 Extension loop off east side of Petrified Whales, connects to Twilight Zone. Upper intermediate.
Lost World 0.7 Joins Practice Loop to Big Hole Loop, ladders and stunts, intermediate.
Moby Dick 0.3 Connects Humpback to N side of Petrified Whales. Advanced.
Orange Fork 0.5 Joins middle of Lost World to SE corner of Big Hole Loop. Intermediate.
Outer Limits 0.4 Connects north end of Practice Loop to Orange Fork. Easier.
Outlaw 0.6 East-west route north of camping, shortcuts between two limbs of Race Loop. Easier.
Petrified Whales 1.4 Loop off southwest corner of Three Peaks Loop, technical rock. Advanced.
Practice Loop 1.6 Loop north of parking; route to other trails. Mostly dirt ribbon. Easier.
Race Loop 5.1 Complex loop with ST and DT; passes through picnic area. Intermediate.
Shortcut 0.4 Links south side of Big Hole Loop (and north Race Loop) to southern Race Loop. Easier.
Sweet Pea 0.3 Links Lost World to Outlaw, crosses southern Race Loop. Easier.
Three Peaks Loop Trail 5.6* Circles the peaks, *to close loop via Big Hole and Earls adds 1.9 miles. Upper-intermediate.
Three Peaks Technical 1.1 Alternate ST off traditional Three Peaks Loop, adds 1/2 mile to distance. Upper-intermediate.
Twilight Zone 2.6 Connects Practice Loop to Jumbled Jonah. Intermediate.
Twilight Bypass 0.4 ST bypasses some tech sections of Twilight Zone, drops 0.4 miles. Easier-intermediate.
 
Riding Notes, Race Course Loop:
0.0   Left through fence then keep R
        N37 46.017 W113 10.090
0.2   Keep right (Practice Loop)
        N37 46.145 W113 10.147
0.5   Trail turns L w fence
        N37 46.363 W113 10.147
0.6   L and through fence
        N37 46.381 W113 10.257
        Follow signs carefully!
0.9   L on dirt road N37 46.182 W113 10.307
1.5   R off DT onto ST
        N37 46.267 W113 10.674
1.6   Keep L (R = Outlaw)
        N37 46.333 W113 10.765
2.1   Fork L (R = Short Cut)

        N37 46.646 W113 11.030

  

2.4   Keep straight (L = Three Peaks)
        N37 46.541 W113 11.247
2.5   Keep R (L = Earl's)
        N37 46.627 W113 11.312
3.2   Fork R on Big Hole/Race Course
        N37 47.054 W113 10.956
3.3   Keep L (R = Short Cut)
        N37 46.966 W113 10.827
3.5   Fork R (L = Big Hole)
        N37 46.947 W113 10.703
4.0   Keep straight (cross Sweet Pea)
        N37 46.530 W113 10.512
4.3   Fork L on Practice Loop
        N37 46.471 W113 10.238
4.4   Fork R (L = Lost World)
        N37 46.502 W113 10.226
5.1   Back at trailhead

Getting there: Just north of Cedar City, take the Enoch/Minersville I-15 exit #62. Go north on U-130 (towards Minersville) 2.6 miles, then turn left on Midvalley Road. Drive 6 miles straight west. Pass the "welcome area" which is the first turnout. Now watch for the sign indicating the Mountain Bike Trailhead. Turn right on a gravel road into the trailhead. The ride starts behind the kiosk and the picnic table.
An alternate is to continue past the mountain bike parking and take the next right toward the picnic and camping area (with flag poles and Three Peaks sign). At the fork in the road, turn right to the picnic pavilion, GPS N 37 46.172' W 113 10.259'. Camp spots are to your north. To your west is the ATV and tech play area. Once you're riding, you'll need to head north to find the bike trails at a break in the fence.

Note: Click on this topo map link for specific trail names and accurate alignments.

Camping:  On site, option group or individual sites, option developed vs primitive
Water:  Trailhead, pavilion, and campground
Bathrooms:  Trailhead, campground, picnic area, pavilion
Bike services:  Cedar Cycle in Cedar City

Riding resources:
Single-page riding guide, Race Loop
GPS track files for this trail (right-click and "Save as..."):
     Race Course Loop  (see pages at right for other tracks)
     Area trails multi-track file 
High-res area trail topo for printing:   View topo map
Lodging, camping, shops:    Links to Cedar City area resources

Trails within riding area:
     Three Peaks Loop page
     Big Hole Loop page
     Twilight Zone and Petrified Whales page

Copyright 2003 Mad Scientist Software Inc
High-res topo trail map and GPS file updated 2016.