Twilight Zone to Petrified Whales
Three Peaks Riding Area
The Twilight Zone is a new singletrack trail in the Three
Peaks riding area northwest of Cedar City. It connects the main
mountain biking trailhead to the "Whale Trails" on the southwest
corner. The Twilight Zone opens up new options for loop rides such as the Three
Peaks Loop, as well as providing a
direct route to the most-technical rock in Three Peaks.
Flat trail down the middle versus over
the rock on the right. Photos and review ride by Bruce
on March 18, 2016.
|Twilight Zone starts on the Practice Loop trail, 0.2 miles
from the mountain biking trailhead riding clockwise. (You get on Practice
Loop by going left as you go
through the opening in the fence at the kiosk.) Twilight Zone is 2.6 miles in length from
the fork off the Practice Loop to the trail's end on Jumbled Jonah (one of the Whale
The overall altitude change is less than 100 feet north-to-south, but
there's a lot of mildly up-and-down riding bringing the total climbing to about
Looking east early in Twilight Zone,
back toward the Practice Loop. The red spots are trail-digger's flags, not
|Overall, the trail would rate intermediate in technical
requirement. You can easily pick the easier routes over the rock areas. Or
not. There are some ladder bridges, all of which I found relatively easy
to ride, and I'm a
bit of a wood-o-phobe.
In some areas, faded paint-spots mark the route through the rock. But
paint seems to die quickly on the rough pink granite of Three Peaks --
paint spots in the Whale Trails that were obvious last year were barely detectable on my most
Some rock areas have faded paint
spots. Navigation may require an occasional stop to look around, and
rarely, a retreat to see where things went wrong.
|If you're in a big hurry to blow through the area, there's
an shorter (by 0.4 miles) alternate route that bypasses some of the fun
technical rock on the northern end. At just under 1/10th mile on Twilight
Zone, you'll come to a trail fork. Right is the main trail. Left takes you
south 0.4 miles to reconnect to Twilight Zone. Just after the bypass trail
reaches a fence, keep left for the southbound Twilight Zone. (2016 note:
the alternate trail is new and there's one spot where you might get lost
as the trail reaches a flat area before crossing a dirt road 0.2 miles from the
fork. GPS recommended.)
You can also access the shortcut via the west end of the parking area.
Go to the far west side of parking, head through the fence and then straight on
the doubletrack. 200 feet from the
fence, spot the trail heading into oak brush on your left. Taking this route
drops 0.8 miles.
A chute on the newer bypass trail
(labeled as Twilight Cutoff on my map).
||Most of the rock is on the northern half of the trail. The
technical areas seem to be within the capabilities of an experienced
intermediate rider, but sometimes require an aggressive approach. There are a few ladder bridges with a high
As the trail passes south of the campground, it becomes entangled with
the foot paths for the disc golf. There are a few signs to help you stay
on course, but you may need to stop and look around occasionally to stay
on the right trail.
Just another fun spot. Ramp, rock,
ramp, rock, ramp, and back to dirt.
|Critical navigation areas of the Twilight Zone!
(1) At mile 0.1 of Twilight Zone, keep right at the trail fork.
(2) At mile 0.8 of Twilight Zone, keep right at the trail fork to continue
south. The bypass trail comes through the fence on your left.
(3) As you cross a big dirt road at mile 0.9, keep on the right-hand side
of the primitive camping area to find continuing singletrack. If you wind
up on ATV trail, you were too far to the left.
Where in doubt, look for ribbons on
trees and fresh dirt against rock surfaces.
||The southern portion of the Twilight Zone is mostly dirt
ribbon; high-speed and fairly flat. At mile 2.3 from the Practice Loop
you'll cross a road that goes into the
primitive RV camping area. Then you'll find
yourself at the Jumbled Jonah trail after 2.6 miles on Twilight Zone (2.8
miles from parking).
Dirt cruisin' on the southern half of
the trail, looking south.
|The Whale Trails are a series of loops and
connectors. The riding is advanced technical with plenty of play
If your goal is simply to get to the main Three
Peaks loop, keep right as you reach Jumbled Jonah. Keep right again
0.2 miles later to enter the Petrified Whales loop counterclockwise. Stay
right as you pass Moby Dick about 200 feet later, taking Petrified Whales
1/2 mile westbound to the Three Peaks Loop.
And we're at the Whale Trails. This is
a fun little el-twisto bridge. If it spooks you, there's a route to the
||Petrified Whales is the main loop in the Whale Trails, 1.4
miles in length. The two ends are less than 1/10th mile apart on the Three
Peaks Loop trail.
Humpback branches off then rejoins the southern side of Petrified
Whales as an alternate route 0.4 miles in length. In the middle of
Humpback, Moby Dick forks off northbound.
Coming down a slot in the granite
after a tricky climb on Petrified Whales.
|Moby Dick is a short (0.3 mile) trail segment connecting the
middle of Humpback (at its northernmost excursion) to the northern side of
the Petrified Whales loop.
Jumbled Jonah is an extension loop off the east side of the Petrified
Whales loop, a longer alternate line that's heavy on dirt cruising with
less technical rock. It's 0.4 miles long.
Sample path on the south end of the Three Peaks Loop
(yellow dots are mine). Looking southeast.
||There's no "best way" to ride these trails. They
feel very different when done in opposite directions. My suggestion is,
just ride around in circles until you've done everything both ways. It's
Just as the rock here is the most techy in all of Three Peaks, the
ladder bridges tend to be narrower and more challenging. But I only
remember one bridge that you couldn't just ride around, and it was as wide
as a sidewalk.
One of the few ladder bridges without a
ride-around. So it's wider than most.
|If you struggled with the open rock on the main Three
Peaks Loop, you're not ready for the Whale Trails. The slickrock here requires an
aggressive attitude and strong legs. And if you wipe out, those big
granite crystals will tear off chunks of skin with the lightest
We're on the Moby Dick trail, and
we're about to ride right up the leviathan's back. Looks simple, but the
last push is kinda steep and if you stall, there's nothing but air on each
side of you. And there's a water-filled pothole waiting for you right at
the apex. Fun stuff!
||Where the south side of Petrified Whales meets the Three
Peaks Loop trail, Four Loco heads east. As of March 2016, Four Loco will
dump you back onto Petrified Whales. The old Four Loco track (available in my area
GPS file) is wild, hairy, and a navigation challenge. The new presumably
easier and more direct route shown
on the BLM map doesn't seem to exist yet. Unless I missed something.
to rock Four Loco in May 2015. Tough stuff on the old route.
|Riding notes, Twilight Zone to Whales
0.0 Through fence at kiosk, go L
N37 46.017 W113 10.084
0.2 L on Twilight Zone
N37 46.137 W113 10.146
0.3 Fork R (L = cutoff)
N37 46.107 W113 10.197
0.55 Fork L (R = Race Loop joining)
N37 46.236 W113 10.279
0.6 Cross R to singletrack
N37 46.210 W113 10.302
0.7 Cross main road N37 46.192 W113 10.364
0.8 Another road
1.0 Keep R (L = Cutoff to parking)
N37 45.914 W113 10.370
1.1 Cross road, veer R through rock to ST
N37 45.891 W113 10.354
(If you're on ATV track, go
2.5 Cross road to primitive RV camp
N37 45.562 W113 11.129
2.8 R on Jumbled Jonah
N37 45.353 W113 11.134
|3.0 R on Petrified Whales
N37 45.347 W113 11.242
3.05 R (L = Moby Dick)
N37 45.375 W113 11.262
3.5 L on Three Peaks Loop
N37 45.379 W113 11.568
3.55 L on Petrified Whales
N37 45.344 W113 11.583
3.7 Keep straight (Four Loco on R)
N37 45.223 W113 11.552
3.8 Fork R (L = Humpback)
N37 45.171 W113 11.472
4.2 Fork R (L = Humpback again)
N37 45.247 W113 11.348
4.3 R on Jumbled Jonah
N37 45.286 W113 11.251
4.6 R on Twilight Zone
N37 45.353 W113 11.134
7.4 Back at parking
||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.
Note: Click on this topo
map link for a view that includes other area trails. See the Three
Peaks page for alternate rides.
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