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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mountain Bike Adventures in Utah, Little Creek Mesa

Last summer I went up to Utah to get in on some of their great mountain bike trails. The first place I went was Little Creek Mesa. It is right near the more famous Gooseberry Mesa. I had been to Gooseberry Mesa on a few occasions but had never been to Little Creek Mesa. So before I left I did some research and found maps and trail descriptions. The hardest part was off the highway finding the right road because there are several ones that could be it. I found it in the middle of the night or at least I thought I had and set up camp. When I woke up I was right at the trail head. Here is a picture of me at the trail head if it helps to see what it looks like. This place has some fantastic trails. It consists of one large loop that is best taken clockwise from the trail head. This loop is single track through pinon and juniper forest with large sections of bare and flat slick rock. The trails are marked with rock piles or carins. Some people say that it is hard to follow but I had no problems. Maybe cause I was riding slow, I don't know. But I have read some reports of people getting lost out here. So if you are not good at route finding make sure you have a GPS or a guide from a local bike shop. The trail is constructed using these bare slickrock sections and some single track to take you out to the edge of the mesa. You travel along the edge of the mesa for quite a while with fantastic views of the Virgin River Valley. Taking the trail from the parking area you turn left at the first trail junction or intersection to do the main loop. This will take you out to the mesa edge west of the trail head. It is around 4.2 miles out to the edge of the mesa. Then the trail takes you north along the mesa edge for quite a while, where as I said are some great views. The trail eventually turns in away from the edge of the mesa and heads east about 6 miles from the trailhead. After about about 2 miles after leaving the mesa edge you come to an intersection. I went right and this takes you on what is called the "magic carpet ride" back to the parking area. This loop is around 10.5 miles. The next day I went right at the first intersection after leaving the parking area and did a second loop but this time counter clockwise. Again I ended up at the same intersection that is east of the rim edge this time turning left and home again along the magic carpet ride. The trails here are less technical than Gooseberry Mesa and that's good for an old guy like me not to mention my old classic Ibis bike. I don't have some big freeride or downhill rig. Don't get me wrong, because I wouldn't trade my classic Ibis for anything.
Not in this picture that you can see "The Point" of Gooseberry Mesa in the background. Little Creek Mesa has some fantastic large flat areas of rock to ride on that were lots of fun. So there is lot of of room to just improvise. I felt the views were just as good Gooseberry and it seems to have more trees than Gooseberry Mesa. And there was no one there because it is more unknown. I had a great time riding all the loops for two days and stayed overnight. I set up my camp on a big flat area of rock. Great star viewing! When I used up all those trails I drove 45 minutes over to Goosberry Mesa and rode that too. So both spots are pretty close together. What a fantastic trip. I'm looking forward to doing it again.
Finding the trail head can be difficult. The hardest part was finding the right road off the main highway. Taking UT 59 East from Hurricane the turn off is 13.5 miles from the UT 59 and UT 9 intersection. Look for Little Creek Mesa Road. It is about 2 miles past the Apple Valley Gas Station (texaco). Turn right if coming from Hurricane. The road turns left in 0.25 miles from the highway. Turn right at the 3-way junction about 1.1 mile from the highway and stay right at the Y-junction 1.9 miles from the highway. Heading north then west, bear left at a Y-junction 2.9 miles from highway. Left fork at 3.5 miles from highway. Continue straight across cattleguard 5.3 miles from highway. Turn right at a four way junction 6.3 miles from the highway (you should see a coral on the left. Turn left at a T-junction about 7 miles from the highway you will pass a cattle guard 7.8 miles from the highway continue driving straight at about 8.5 miles from the highway The road will get very rough and you will find a large patch slickrock at the left of the road park here. The trailhead is just west of the slickrock on the other side of the road.
Little Creek mesa is at around 5600 feet in elevation and can be hot in the summer and it can snow in the winter so spring and fall are probably the best time to visit.
Other sites that were helpful to me for this adventure are. . .

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