||Virgin River Rim Trail
(Strawberry Point, Pink Cliffs, Navajo Peak, Woods Ranch)
The Virgin River Rim Trail is a high-altitude alpine
singletrack, skirting the edge of Utah's high southern plateau. The trail
offers excellent forested singletrack riding and some awesome views. The
trail is long and tough, so most
riders ride only a piece of this trail - we describe those options below.
The trail melts out in mid-June, with a return of snow in mid-October.
from the trail over the Pink Cliff area, we're at 9500 feet. To the south,
the land breaks away towards Zion Canyon, sloping down to below 3000 feet
elevation. Photo July 14, 2001, Bruce Argyle.
For those who have strength, stamina, and are acclimatized to high
altitude, you can ride the entire trail as a point-to-point (with shuttle)
in 7-10 hours. You'll do 32.5 miles, with over 4200 vertical feet of
climbing, at an average altitude of 9300 feet. Peak altitude is
9700, base is 8200. The biggest and steepest
single climb is 600 feet in 1.5 miles.
rides towards a road crossing, where the trail drops down from Strawberry
Point to the Strawberry Road.
The trail winds through forests of pine, fir, and aspen as it climbs to the
ridgeline. Here, you're on the southern edge of the Utah's massive high plateau
country, looking into the valleys 6000 feet below as they break down towards
Zion National Park. The Navajo Lake and Strawberry Point sections of the trail
let you admire these views (the Te-ah campground to Woods Ranch Section does
not). The trail is well-maintained and well-marked, with signs at every trail
and road intersection. The trail base is mostly hardpack dirt, but with a lot of
rough rocky sections, and a few short climbs on loose rock.
||Riding the trail from Strawberry Point, you'll encounter some fairly stiff
climbs, particularly from Cascade Falls to the top of Navajo Peak. This is by
far the toughest half of the ride, but it's also the most scenic. This section
includes the amazing Pink Cliffs (definitely a big photo op!). At Navajo Peak,
you reach the ride's peak altitude of 9700 feet. If you do ANY
part of the Virgin River Rim, you should do the eastern half.
Chad looks down into the salmon-pink
rock of the Pink Cliffs
|On the second
(western) half of the trail, elevation change is more gradual with up-and-down
riding. The western half is a decent forest ride, but it lacks the great views
you'll see on the ridgeline of the eastern end of the trail.
Bruce admires the view from the
ridgeline. Note the mud on the tires. We rode the whole 33 miles, and we
did it on gooey trail.
||One of the ride's highlights is the view of the Pink Cliffs, an eroded rock
formation similar to Bryce Canyon. The pink and orange rock is soft limestone
from the Tertiary Period, called the Claron Formation. This limestone formed in
a large fresh-water lake about 40 million years ago. During this era,
the uintatherium and giant sloth lived in Utah in warm thick forest among many
Mike stands at the cliff edge, 6 miles
into the ride.
|The hardest section (when riding east to west) is the (average 8% grade)
climb from the Cascade Falls road up to Navajo Peak. Navajo Peak isn't a sharp
peak like those in the Wasatch -- rather, it's a mound with a ridgeline on top.
Take a minute to stroll through the wildflowers at the top. There are more great views
of the deep valleys to the south from Navajo Peak.
Dominic rides down from Navajo Peak,
where the Virgin River Rim Trail merges with the Navajo Lake Loop Trail.
Epic Virgin River Rim Trail Ride (32.5 miles) - see below for
Trailhead Strawberry Point, 9 miles up Strawberry Road (Forest Service Road),
descend down road
0.5 leave Forest Service Road onto singletrack on right GPS N 37° 26.284' W 112°
42.129', altitude 9000 feet
1.8 cross Forest Service Road, altitude 8400 feet, begin climbing
2.6 doubletrack joins trail from right (continue straight)
2.9 exit doubletrack onto singletrack on left
3.5 cross doubletrack, then small (usually dry) creek
4.3 doubletrack merges in from left
4.4 exit doubletrack onto singletrack on right
5.3 brief view of cliffs, cross doubletrack, then 2nd doubletrack 200 feet later
5.9 awesome view over colored rock formations, altitude 9100 feet, begin descent
to 8900 feet
6.9 Lars Fork road on right side, cross loop of road (2 crossings), climb
switchbacks with road on right side
9.9 reach ridgeline, 9300 feet, start descent
11.1 cross Cascade Falls road near overlook (trail is across road, left of outhouse),
altitude 9000 feet
12.2 climbing rocky grade up to ridgeline
13.5 intersect Dike Trail, altitude 9600 feet, continue straight and descend
14.7 intersect Spruces Campground trail on right, saddle at 9300 feet, continue straight, begin climb
15.5 top of Navajo Peak, altitude 9700 feet, generally flat and up-and-down
16.0 intersect Navajo Trail, keep left (straight), descending
18.0 trail turns away from ridge and begins faster descent
18.5 merge with Navajo Lake Loop Trail, keep left (straight)
20.1 reach paved road, altitude 9100 feet (campground just across road has water tap), turn left on
20.2 go right on doubletrack GPS N 37° 32.020' W 112° 49.303' as road turns
south, begin descent
20.7 singletrack trail abruptly turns right off doubletrack (if you reach a
gate, you went too far), 9000 feet
22 up and down, but generally climbing up to altitude 9300
24.3 descend and cross small wooden bridge
26.5 turn right uphill on doubletrack, altitude 9000
26.7 fence/gate, continue straight ahead on doubletrack
27.1 doubletrack turns right in sharp switchback, go straight onto singletrack
at corner of switchback
27.2 several small wooden bridges crossing small springs (Stucki Springs)
27.6 reach Webster Flat road, look left - singletrack continues on the other
side of the bend in the road
28.3 top of mountain, 9400 feet, go over sheep grate in fence, descend
29.4 trail rejoins Webster Flat road, turn right on the road, descend
32.1 doubletrack reaches gravel road, turn right
32.5 road enters parking area at Woods Ranch GPS N 37° 35.455' W 112° 55.032'
NOTE: your odometer readings may vary.
|Pink Cliffs Section (Loop): This loop takes you up to the fabulous views over
the Pink Cliffs. Park where the Lars Fork Road branches off the Strawberry Creek
(Forest Service) Road, about 4 miles from the highway. Ride up the Forest
Service road. Either turn right where the trail crosses the road, or continue up
to Strawberry Point then descend the singletrack (back to the same place) for a
longer ride. Climb up to the cliffs, then descend and turn right when you reach
the Lars Fork Road and ride the road back to your vehicle. About 14 miles for the long
version, 10 miles without going to Strawberry Point.
|Navajo Lake Section (Loop): This loop takes you up Navajo Peak, with views
over the deep valleys to the south. Ride uphill, keeping right where the Navajo
Lake Loop trail and Navajo trails fork off. Continue east over Navajo Peak, then
descend to the Cascade Falls road. Turn left on the road. At both forks in the
road, keep left, and you'll be on the road down to Navajo Lake. Watch for the
Navajo Lake Loop trail as it crosses the road at GPS N 37° 31.056' W 112°
44.996'. Turn right on the singletrack, and go around the lake. (For a slightly
shorter ride - 16 miles - go left.) When you reach the road, turn right to get
back to the trailhead. See the Navajo Lake Loop Trail page for additional
details. About 17 miles.
|Cliffside Shuttle Ride: Leave your shuttle car
at the Navajo Lake trailhead, where the trail reaches the Navajo Lake
road. Then drive to Strawberry Point. Ride it as above, but you'll finish at Navajo Lake for a 20-mile
ride. This ride covers all of the big views of the Rim Trail, and will
still give you a major workout.
To make the ride even shorter, and to eliminate the brutal climb up
from Cascade Falls, consider leaving your shuttle at Cascade Falls. Ride
from Strawberry Point to Cascade Falls for an 11-mile
Either of these rides can also be done west-to-east.
|Getting there: From Cedar City, drive 11 miles east
on U-14 to Woods Ranch. Leave a vehicle at the parking area of the second
entrance (the gravel road that comes in parallel to the highway is the end
of the trail). Continue east on U-14 to 33 miles from Cedar City, and turn
right on Strawberry Road. Continue straight on the dirt road to Strawberry
Point, 9 miles. You'll pass the trail marker on the left-hand side of the
road about 1/2 mile before the overlook.