One of the prime areas for mountain biking in St. George is the Santa Clara Preserve. The trails are located in a relatively small area but the remote and harsh nature of the desert gives the impression of being much farther away from civilization than you actually are. The trails range from completely benign to ‘People ride that?!’ with the perfect mix of technical challenges and miles of roller coaster trails.
Barrel Roll/Rim Rock Trails
On the northern end of the Santa Clara Preserve is the Cove Wash trailhead with a series of loops sprouting from a single point.
Barrel Roll, a 6-mile loop is a classic introduction to St. George riding. As the trail winds through the desert landscape, it stays mostly smooth with a few rocky sections to wake up technical skills that have been lying dormant all winter. My skills woke up quickly after bobbling a move and giving a friendly cactus a high-five.
With a moderate amount of elevation gain in the form of singletrack, the Barrel Roll is a classic to the area.
Just to the south, starting from the same trailhead are the Rim Rock trails. The ‘loop’ can be made up of any combination of Rim Rock, Rim Runner, Rim Reaper, and Rim Rambler depending on desired ride length. The whole area is fairly non-technical desert riding while still being plenty entertaining for riders of all levels.
Stucki Springs/Bearclaw Poppy
Ridden north to south, Stucki Springs is the definition of a roller coaster ride on a bike. The 10 miles of trail resembles a 10-mile pump track on a hard surface that seems to never end. Ridden with a line of riders, this trail is nothing short of a Disney World amusement park ride.
From the southern terminus of the Stucki Springs trail system, the Bearclaw Poppy trail is well worth the time to ride. Just on the outskirts of town, the area is preserved to protect the endangered Bearclaw Poppy flower. The trail is one of the most popular in the St. George area as it is easily accessed from a variety of trailheads, and provides excellent, clay surfaced riding for a wide variety of skill levels.
As the name implies, one must find Zen while riding the Zen trail. The trail climbs directly from the parking lot and immediately provides entertaining rock features to negotiate on the way up.
Locals have found lines through the large and small rock moves and the climb rewards those with strong technical skills. Once at the top, as with most climbs, it’s mostly downhill back to the car. While there are a handful of sections of smooth trail on the descent, there are several hairy steep sections and rock moves that require total commitment. It’s a perfect blend of trials skills and speed.
A final descent through a scenic mini-canyon and a screaming fast finish returns riders to the trailhead where most turn to look back up the trail, determined to ride some of the sections smoother and cleaner the next time around.