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Lava Link
with Land of the Giants and Spare Rib

The Lava Link trail connects the uphill parts of two riding areas in the Iron Hills system. From the top of Elevate in Shurtz Canyon, Lava Link climbs up and over to Lava Flow in the Southview area. Lava Link also provides access to the expert-level loop of Tombstone and Bone Yard. Land of the Giants and Spare Rib are two very-short trails off Lava Link, discussed below.

View from Lava Link as I-15 heads north into Cedar City. The hills of Three Peaks are in the distance. Photos and review by Bruce on July 27, 2021.

Lava Link is an upper-intermediate trail with some technical rock-work to bang across. It's 2.1 miles long. The trail rides easier north-to-south, as more of the rock gardens are on the downhill side in this direction. Most of the trail is red dirt in a terrain of pinion and juniper.

Climbing from the south on Lava Link. Note the frequent piles of rock. These rock gardens are much easier in the north-to-south direction.

Getting to Lava Link
It requires substantial climbing to reach either end of the trail. Lava Link can be reached from the Southview or the Shurtz Canyon trailheads. It's about the same amount of work from either end.

Heading away from parking at the Southview trailhead. Lichen It will take you to Lava Flow, which quickly connects to Lava Link.

On the northern end, you'll start from the Southview trailhead and climb 2.6 smooth miles of Lichen It, then traverse 0.5 miles on upper Lava Flow. You'll find Lava Link at a four-way intersection where Boulder Dash ends on Lava Flow. It's 450 vertical feet of climbing from Southview to reach Lava Link.

Dropping into Lava Flow at the top of Lichen It.

From the Shurtz Canyon trailhead, you'll take Turnpike 0.9 miles to Elevate and climb uphill 1.4 miles to the southern end of Lava Link. Your climbing will be 350 vertical feet before you reach Lava Link from this end. This route is a bit shorter, but with tougher, rockier climbing -- especially once you actually start riding on Lava Link.

Climbing on Turnpike, heading for Elevate.

Lava Link trail
Lava Link's lowest point is 6400 feet at its southern end at the top of the Elevate trail. It will climb to an elevation of 6700, then descend to 6500 feet at Lava Flow. The expected riding season will be late May through October.

Four-way intersection where Lava Link starts on the southern end. Elevate is on the far left, Lava Link is straight ahead. Bone Yard is on the far right, and Black Ops is directly behind us.


Lava Link forms the upper side of a loop between the two Iron Hills trailheads. I believe this will be the way most riders experience Lava Link. 

Turnpike forms the lower connection, and the loop on the upper mountain consists of Lichen It, a bit of Lava Flow, Lava Link, and either Elevate or Black Ops. 

Lava Link spends most of its time contouring the hillside. This is a smooth section.

This loop is 11.2 miles if done from Shurtz Canyon. I recommend a clockwise ride: northbound on the Turnpike trail, then southbound on the higher mountain (Lichen It to Lava Flow then Lava Link, descending via Black Ops).

From Southview TH (skipping the bit of Turnpike that lies between the trailhead and the bottom of Black Ops) it's 10.7 miles around the loop.

Looking southwest from Lava Link. Note that the trail is 100% rock at this spot.

Lava Link is also the route to the expert-level loop of the Tombstone trail and Bone Yard. Most riders will be coming from the south via the Shurtz Canyon trailhead. 

Climbing is generally fairly mellow. But when you hit the rock gardens, it becomes tougher.

It's 2.3 miles and 350 vertical feet from Shurtz Canyon to the top of Elevate. At the four-way, turn left onto Lava Link. (The other trails are the bottom of Bone Yard and the top of Black Ops.) From here, it's 0.7 miles and 150 vertical feet of climbing on Lava Link to reach the bottom of Tombstone.

Heading north into the ride's highest point. From here, we'll descend 250 vertical feet to Lava Flow.

Riders who are heading for Tombstone from Southview will probably elect to take the Short Rib trail, which allows them to bypass a significant bit of Lava Link and lower Tombstone. (See below.)

Here's a couple of rock gardens to slam over.

Land of the Giants trail
There are two short side-trails that branch off of Lava Link. The southernmost is "Land of the Giants." This expert-level DH-only trail starts at mile 0.4 from Elevate. (You'll pass the exit from this trail just after mile 0.3 from Elevate.) Land of the Giants circles around downhill for 0.1 mile to rejoin Lava Link, where you'll repeat a climb of 100 yards to get back to where you turned onto Land of the Giants.

Entry to Land of the Giants from Lava Link at a 180-degree right turn.

The trail goes over this big rock. Expert skills required
to clean these obstacles.
Note the rock ramp just to the left of center. That's the
way up to the top of this rock roll-over.
Land of the Giants has lots of rocks, including two very big rock rollovers. If you're an intermediate rider who was suckered into riding it, at least it's not very long.

Rolling back toward Lava Link after some quick fun.

Spare Rib trail
The Spare Rib trail connects Lava Link at mile 1.1 from Elevate (1 mile from Lava Flow) to the lower Tombstone trail. It's only 0.1 mile long, but with a fairly stiff pitch. Depending on which direction you're riding, it can be used as a shortcut to bypass a series of turns on Lava Link.

Descending on Spare Rib towards Tombstone.

The Spare Rib trail is fairly smooth to ride either direction. It will be used mainly by riders who are coming from Southview and heading for Tombstone.

Bottom of Spare Rib from the Tombstone trail.

Bottom Line:
Nice addition to the Iron Hills system, allowing more complex and longer rides. I like the clockwise loop option for strong intermediates.

New camping area at Shurtz Canyon, not quite ready to open. The lighter stuff in the center is a sand patch for tents.

Getting there:
Shurtz Canyon Trailhead. Exit I-15 and head south on Old Highway 91 as above. At 2.4 miles, turn left on Tipple Road. After 0.6 miles, turn left on Shurtz Canyon Road (mislabeled "Shirts" on the road sign). Go 0.7 miles and turn left into the trailhead. The Turnpike trail is on the east side of the parking area. Pedal through the campground and go 0.9 miles to Elevate, then climb Elevate to Lava Link.
Southview Trailhead.
At the southern I-15 Cedar City exit (Exit 57 to Cross Hollow Road and Highway 130), turn east onto Highway 130. Immediately turn right (south) from 130 onto Old Highway 91. Drive 0.3 miles. Watch for the sign for Southview Trailhead and turn left on Shurtz Canyon Drive. Now stay on Shurtz Canyon Drive to the trailhead and find a spot to park. Start out on the paved Southview trail. After the bridge, go past the Turnpike trail and the one-way return trails from Lava Flow and Iron Giant. Turn right onto Lichen It and climb to Lava Flow to connect to Lava Link.

Bathrooms:  Southview and Shurtz trailheads
Repair stand at Southview trailhead
Water:  Southview only, at sink in bathroom
Camping:  Campground under construction at Shurtz Canyon (recommend Three Peaks for now)

GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
   Multi-track area GPX files
Lodging, camping, shops:     Links to Cedar City area resources

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