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Twisted Forest

The Twisted Forest ride is a gravel and dirt-road ride that takes you to a unique wilderness hiking trail and a mountain summit with 330 degrees of beautiful views. This ride is best considered as an activity involving mountain biking -- rather than as an awesome bike ride by itself -- because gravel road isn't why you come to the Brian Head area. The Twisted Forest ride is a good activity for a family after you've spent enough time bombing down the trails at Brian Head.

Looking past a bristlecone pine at Cedar Breaks. I believe this is the exact tree you've seen on billboards for Southern Utah. Photos July 1, 2003 by Bruce.


Depending on the distance you want to ride, there are three options. (Well, four options, if you count driving your family car to the Twisted Forest Trailhead.) From the bottom of Dry Lakes Road and continuing all the way to High Mountain, it's 19.3 miles round trip, with 2200 vertical feet of climbing. For the first 4 miles, you'll climb steadily 400 feet per mile. Just grind it out in your lower gears.

Near the bottom of the ride on Dry Lakes Road, looking north. In mid-summer, this lower area gets a bit warm.

From Brian Head via Aspen Drive, you'll climb only 500 feet and ride 12.8 miles. (If you skip the climb up to High Mountain, the ride totals 7.7 miles.) The initial climb up Aspen Drive is very steep -- definitely granny gear. If you're riding with pre-teen children, you'll want to take the SUV over this first little summit and start at the Dry Lakes Road intersection.

Climbing on uphill towards High Mountain, we're looking back over the wilderness area (the ridgeline we hiked is directly in the middle of this photo).

The Twisted Forest is in the Ashdown George Wilderness. Bikes are NOT allowed. Park at the trailhead. The trail to the ridge-top cliff-line is about one-half mile. You might want to wear your tenny-runners, rather than your stiff biking shoes for this one. At the ridgetop, there's steep cliff on the opposite side. Watch your little guys.

The bristlecone pines are the only vegetation growing in this area of the Claron Formation limestones of the Ashdown George Wilderness. Below: looking along the cliff-line towards Brian Head Peak.

Ride Notes, out-and-back via Dry Lakes Road
0.0  Uphill on Dry Lakes Road
4.5  Intersection with Aspen Drive Route (900 N)
       Keep straight N 37 42.816' W 112 52.201'
       (*From U-143 via Aspen Drive is 1.2)
5.9  Sugarloaf Mountain Road in from L (*2.6)
       Keep straight N 37 41.700' W 112 52.716'
6.9  Fork L on smaller DT in meadow on ridge (*3.6)
       N 37 41.155' W 112 53.344'
       1/4 mile to Twisted Forest - HIKE
       1/4 mile back to main road
7.4  Back on Dry Lakes Road, go L (*4.1)
8.1  High Mountain Trail on L, keep straight (*4.8)
       N 37 40.825' W 112 53.824'
8.7  Fork L on smaller DT  (*5.4)
       N 37 40.726' W 112 54.270'
9.9  Top of High Mountain, turn around (*6.6)
Ride Notes, from Brian Head via Aspen Drive
0.0  Uphill through several switchbacks
       Keep on main road, descend at 0.4
1.2  Left on Dry Lakes Road
       See mileages above
The last leg of the ride up to High Mountain is on a more primitive doubletrack, through pretty aspen groves. From this summit, you can look at Cedar Breaks, down into the canyon above Cedar City, and out to the flats near Parowan.

We're heading into the last half-mile of the ride. High mountain has a smooth flat summit. No cliffs here.

Getting there:  From I-15, turn into Parowan. Follow the signs, turning onto U-143 towards Brian Head. Zero your odometer. 7.1 miles later, Dry Lakes Road is on your left. For the longer ride, park on the shoulder here and head up the gravel road. GPS N 37 45.425' W 112 50.646', altitude 7700 feet.
Aspen Drive: At the downhill end of Brian Head, just uphill from the "Brian Head" sign, gravel Aspen Drive heads west from U-143 (right if you're headed uphill). A blue "ATV Trail" sign is on a tree. Just uphill is Fir Drive (which joins Aspen). GPS N 37 42.579' W 112 51.121', altitude 9450 feet.
Sugarloaf Mountain Road: At the uphill end of Brian Head, the Sugarloaf Mountain Road heads west (right if you're headed uphill).
Riding resources:
One-page printable riding guide
GPS track file for this trail (right-click and "Save as...")::
     Garmin     GPX 
High-res topo for printing:   View
Lodging, camping, shops:     Links to Cedar City area resources