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If you're looking for classic desert riding that will throw a little bit of everything at you over the course of almost 24 miles, then this route is for you.
It combines the best trails of the Santa Clara Preserve northwest of St.
George into a triple loop, offering the opportunity to easily tailor the distance to your fitness level. The ride starts out at the bottom of the mountainside, climbing up a gravel road to reach the Cove Wash trailhead and the beginning of the singletrack on the Precipice Trail.
While you can choose to begin the ride higher up at Cove Wash, beginning at the bottom allows you to end with a raucous descent! The Precipice Trail starts out smooth and mellow enough, but then gets tricky after about a mile in.
The Barrel Roll option is a little easier.
The Precipice (or Barrel Roll) trail, along with the attached Sidewinder Trail, and the first mile of the Suicidal Tendencies Trail, serve as the stem in a lollipop route with the rest of Suicidal Tendencies being the loop at the top of a separate mesa.
What that means is that you are starting atop one mesa, dropping into a huge wash between mesas, and climbing up onto the second mesa.
Then it's the loop, then return by dropping down and climbing back up the way you came. Have a good look at that drop before you commit, as you need to be sure you will have the energy to climb back out...
both ways! If you're up to it, this is a unique and very entertaining ride.
If you complete this route and are still fresh, hit the rest of the remaining six-mile Barrel Roll loop on the way out.
If not, there's no shame in simply bypassing Barrel Roll and coasting back down Precipice or lower Barrel Roll back to the start While Precipice is variable in technical challenge and Sidewinder is consistently intermediate, Suicidal Tendencies will throw a good number of challenges at you.
The name may be a bit overstated, but there are hazards in the form of narrow tread with serious exposure to one side, and tight switchbacks where missing a turn can have very serious consequences.
Once atop the second mesa, the exposure disappears and the loop will be a comfortable but fun jaunt for an advanced rider, and a great place for an intermediate to face a nice variety of rock obstacles.
After completing the loop, it's back down into the wash and up the big climb to the decision point: to roll Barrel Roll or not to roll Barrel Roll? There's a good bit more climbing, albeit mostly gradual, if you opt for the Barrel Roll add-on.
Once at the high point, it's a fast and flowy loop back to the start.
After Suicidal Tendencies, Barrel Roll will seem anticlimactic for the technically-oriented rider, but it's a nice way to add some miles for someone who doesn't relish the thrill of constant cliffside exposure. If you still haven't had enough yet, head out for another lollipop loop on the Rim Reaper, Rim Rambler, Rim Runner, and Rim Rock trails.
While arguably not quite as good as the previous trails, they also receive less traffic and thereby offer a remote mountain biking experience. Finally, if you did begin your ride at the bottom of the mountainside, you've earned a blazing-fast descent down an unmarked singletrack trail that rips down the mountainside through a series of smooth trail, some rock gardens, and a few ledge drops that you can absolutely send for some great hang time! While this trail doesn't get nearly as much traffic as the higher trails, riders who enjoy a high-speed descent will have an absolute blast on this final trail. These trails are ridable year-round, but does not handle moisture well, and is exceedingly hot in the summer.
Ride early and bring twice as much water as you think you'll need.
-Writing by John Fisch and Greg Heil