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J.E.M. Trail (Classic Loop)
The J.E.M. Trail is found just west of the town of Virgin near Zion National Park, and offers high-speed desert cruising and a cliff-side ride along the Virgin River. The loop is 12.9 miles in length, with 800 feet of altitude gain. One-way from the top, it's 6.5 miles. The first half is uphill doubletrack; the last 6.2 miles is downhill singletrack. Except for a very short but dangerous switchback section (and a half-mile of cliff-side cruising) it's fairly easy technically and aerobically.
From the trailhead (GPS N 37 12.029' W 113 13.089', altitude 3320 ft.), backtrack 0.2 miles and turn right on the main gravel road. At 2.1 miles, you'll drop through a big wash. Just a bit further, at 2.3 miles, you turn left off the main road into a shallow wash, or the doubletrack 0.1 mile further on (GPS N 37 10.726' W 113 14.326'). The wash and road will cross a number of times, so it doesn't matter which one you take.
A singletrack branches off the wash at 2.9 miles, dumping back onto an intersection of the road and the wash at 3.0 miles. You'll see an old corral and a gate just up the road. From here, I suggest you take the road, because the wash gets soft (hard to ride), with some confusing branches.
At 4.1 miles, the trail crests at the top of the big wash. (There are a few stock watering tanks here.) Drop down into the wash and head uphill. Follow the road as it dips into and out of the wash. At 4.4 miles, the road forks. Go RIGHT (west). At 5.25 miles, you'll encounter a gate as the road passes around a sandstone canyon on your right.
At 6.7 miles, the singletrack branches off on your right (GPS N 37 08.637' W 113 14.511', altitude 4160 ft). A rockpile marks the trail.
At 7.1 miles, the trail walks down the cliff with a steep technical switchback. There's some injury potential here. But it's just a short walk.
At 8.4 miles, the singletrack crosses the main road.
At mile 11.4, fork right. Left goes to the Hurricane Rim.
At mile 11.5, the trail drops into the wash. Ride across the rock, and spot the continuing trail on the far side of a second wash. (If you're afraid of heights, you can bail out on the doubletrack road here to avoid riding along the Virgin River Gorge.) You'll ride a mile along the edge of the Virgin River, as it cuts a deep canyon. Then the trail takes you back to the parking area.
Getting there: From I-15 north, take the La Verkin exit on UT-17. From the south, take the Hurricane exit on US-9 and go through Hurricane towards Zion National Park. At the junction of US-9 with UT-17, turn east towards Zion. 4.8 miles after the turnoff, right after mile marker 17, a gravel road turns right (south). 0.5 miles later, you'll cross over the Virgin River. Cross a cattleguard, then turn right 0.1 miles after the bridge and go 0.2 miles to a turn-around overlooking the Virgin River. GPS N 37 12.029' W 113 13.089'
Upper JEM trailhead: In Hurricane, turn south on US-59 (towards the Grand Canyon). Drive exactly 5 miles uphill. Turn left on cindered doubletrack right as you approach the base of Gooseberry Mesa. Drive another 0.3 miles to the parking area. N 37 08.329' W 113 14.527'

Copyright 2002 Mad Scientist Software Inc. Use this trail guide at your own risk.