This six mile loop in St George is a fun ride. Offering a nice mix of desert-ish singletrack, challenging rock moves, open sections of rock slabs and great views to boot just about any intermediate rider who does not mind walking some sections will have good time out here. There is about 1,100 feet of climbing and not all of it is easy.
Resources: The PDF map to the left. There is a whole nextwork of trails in this area. Check out UtahMountainBiking.com for the rest of the trails in this area.
Directions: From I-15 at the south end of St George, take the Dixe Drive Exit and turn West for 2.5 miles. Turn left on S. Canyon View Drive for 0.7 miles to the large dirt lot. You can also continue on the dirt road down into the valley.
Starting from the trailhead at the bottom of the access road, start climbing up the doubletrack that is to the west of the gap between the mesa. Shortly after you start climbing the doubletrack (ZEN-01) you will notice a singletrack off to your left. This is the end of the loop you will be on later. Keep on climbing. At 0.2 miles (ZEN-02) take the singletrack off to your right and continue climbing. There are some rocky bits to deal with as you climb. At 0.8 miles (ZEN-03) you will rejoin/cross the double track as you continue climbing. The views down into "The Gap" and Green Valley continue to get better and the technical features of the terrain continue to increase in interest and difficulty.
As you approach 1.9 miles (ZEN-04) the trail weaves through and around some monolithic rocks which are just an awesome treat to ride through. This will bring out into a small bowl area where there seems to be several trails going in different directions. It will look confusing at first, but the trail goes down across the bowl and works it way easterwardly along the ridgeline. I wanted to check out some of the offshoot trails in this bowl area but the weather was coming in and we wanted to press on. The trail worked its way east for a while and then turned south then west to climb up to the to the edge of the bluff at at 2.5 miles (ZEN-05)
When we got to the top of the mesa we had some great views of Green Valley below. We could also see the rain a coming! Shortly after the picture above, the rain caught us and the camera remained stashed in my pack. The descent from here was exceptional with a combination of sweet single track and with some slick rock bits. The opening streach was along the bluff edge and before the trail turned to the north-northeast. There was come good technical bit through here and I only recall a small rise somewhere along the way. We were also getting rained fairly descently at this point.
At around 3.8 miles (ZEN-06) the singletrack forks and you want to stay to the left. If you come out onto doubletrack you missed the fork. (Like we did..I clean up the GPS file to remove the ooops). At 4.0 miles (ZEN-07) there is another spot where you will want to stay to left. Once again if you end up on doubletrack you missed the fork. You have some undulations to deal with now as you work your way up and through a few draws. The technical goodness of the trail adds a bit of extra sauce to the normal elevation effort . At around 4.8 miles you pretty much top out on the climbing and start to descend.
As you approch 5.0 miles (ZEN-08) the singletrack comes out onto doubletrack and keeps going downhill. You should almost immediately see a cairn and singletrack bearing off to the left. That is your way. At 5.3 miles (ZEN-09 & 10) will have two doubletrack crossings fairly close together. The singletrack is pretty obvious to follow. At 5.9 miles (ZEN-01) you will come out onto the doubletrack that you started out on. Hang a right and go back down the hill and to your vehicle.
Just as we were rolling back to the truck the rain stop and the sun reappeared. Just in time for tasty post-ride goodness. This was a great add-on to the early days events. This is certainly not a full-day ride on its own, the good news is there are a bunch of trails right in this area, Barrels is a common trail that is ridden right from the spot (So I'm told, I have not ridden it yet). I'm definately going to put the Zen trail into the my St George roadtrip rotation. The next stop on this roadtrip was a return to Little Creek Mesa.