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Destination: Hurricane, Utah

  • By Eszter Horanyi
  • Published Nov. 15, 2011
  • Updated Oct. 11, 2012 at 4:46 PM EDT

Hurricane (pronounced Hur-kin), Utah isn’t exactly the type of place that one would expect to be a Mecca of desert mountain biking.

Nestled in the Dixie region of south-west Utah, just a hair over 20 miles from St. George, the small town boasts all the necessities for a bike town: a coffee shop, a bike shop, inexpensive, high quantity food, and soft serve ice cream. La Verkin, just two miles up the road also has a ‘Farmers Market’ grocery store, ideal for stocking up before heading out for a ride.

Gooseberry Mesa offers severe exposure as well as intermediate trails. Photo: Millerperspectives.squarespace.com

With its desert climate, the Hurricane trails are generally clear of snow and mud most of the year and even on wet years, it’s almost always possible to find something worthy of riding in the area.

Sitting in the shadow of Zion National Park, the giant cliffs provide a stunning backdrop to all the riding in the area.

The classic desert landscape provides an abundance of riding, ranging from smooth roller coaster trails devoid of any rocks, to technical slickrock that rivals, and possibly exceeds, that of Moab. Riders of any skill and fitness level will find something to enjoy in this stunning valley.

The most well known trail of the Hurricane Valley is Gooseberry Mesa. The slickrock trails are laid out in various loops and range in skill level from intermediate to expert. With the same death-defying traction on rocks and steep ups and downs as Moab slickrock, Gooseberry trails seem nearly deserted compared to their better-known counterpart farther east.

Classic slickrock on Gooseberry Mesa. Photo: Millerperspectives.squarespace.com

The trail traverses next to edge of the mesa in several spots and, at the farthest point, comes to a diving-board end with huge views of Dixie County.

If the slickrock on Gooseberry isn’t enough, the next area to explore would be the Little Creek trails located 18 miles east of Hurricane. The Little Creek trails tend to be slightly less technical than Gooseberry and far less marked, so be prepared to wander, or, even better, find a local to show you around.

Before heading out there, stop by Over the Edge Sports to get a trail map of the area and to check on trail conditions, as Little Creek tends to stay wet longer than much of the other riding in the area.

While you’re at Over the Edge, be sure to get a shot of espresso from the quirky little bike shop.

In addition to the slickrock playgrounds on the outskirts of Hurricane, there is also abundant riding in a straight shot from town.

The JEM trail sits at the base of Gooseberry Mesa. Photo: Millerperspectives.squarespace.com

Cruise out of town on pavement for 15 minutes and quickly hook up with the Gould Trail. Early season riding in Hurricane is great for those from colder climates who haven’t spent much time on a bike over the winter. The lack of large climbs makes the trails easy on the aerobic system. The Gould Trail is no exception, providing it’s giggles not from long climbs and ripping descents but from non-stop wiggles and rock features.

The trail climbs approximately 700 feet in nine miles and ends at the J.E.M trail head, named after trail founders John, Ellen, and Mike. The J.E.M trail would more aptly be named the Gem Trail and is not to be missed as it drops 800 feet on smooth singletrack suitable for intermediate riders and provides a high speed roller coaster for more advanced riders.

Finish the 21-mile loop back to Hurricane on the Hurricane Rim Trail, which is an honest mix of chunk-and-funk with more classic, smooth trail winding through the desert landscape.

The Gould/JEM/Hurricane Rim loop provides abundant rolling singletrack. Photo: Millerperspectives.squarespace.com

Once in town, make a beeline to the Maverick Gas station on the edge of town where a tall cone of soft serve ice cream awaits hot and hungry riders.

Hurricane provides and ideal early season destination for riders looking for desert riding without the crowds associated with Moab or other early season hot spots.

While in Hurricane, it’s also well worth the time to visit St. George to sample the riding on tap just outside of their city limits.

Best Bike Shop

Visit Over the Edge Sports for any, and all, information related to riding in Hurricane. They also make a mean cup of espresso, so it’s worth a trip to combine two of the greatest things in life: coffee and bikes.

76 East 100 South, Hurricane, UT 84737
(435) 635-5455

Best Coffee Shop/Bakery

Check out the Main Street Café for some of the best baked goods and coffee in town. The menu is small, but everything on it is worth a taste. The prices are reasonable and they have a lovely garden to eat in while enjoying the desert sunshine.

138 South Main Street, Hurricane, UT 84737

Best Restaurant

For hungry mountain bikers on a budget, the best bet is Alberto’s, a classic Mexican restaurant where a large burrito and a drink will run you around $5. The calories per dollar value can’t be beat.

412 W State St
Hurricane, UT 84737
Be sure to check out more destinations to go get your tires dirty


Eszter Horanyi lives and mountain bikes in Crested Butte, CO.  She has dabbled in road racing, cyclocross racing, and cross country mountain bike racing, but has gravitated towards ultra endurance and multi day self supported racing in the more recent past.  She firmly believes that nothing tops a good ride with good friends on good trails, thus she spends her life in search of all of the above. All articles by Eszter.

FILED UNDER: Destinations / MTB / News / Southwest TAGS: / / /

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