A mountain biker’s desert oasis

Photo by Zach White



This might be the best-known trail system in the Hurricane area and for good reason—the views are simply stunning and the trail network truly unique. The network of trails on Gooseberry Mesa do not gain or lose a lot of elevation since they are on a plateau, but it is still very physical riding. A mix of sandstone, soil and gravelly trails will throw a little bit of everything at you. Many go here expecting flowy trails, but what’s here instead is mostly a maze-like network of trails that dart up and around at lower speeds. What it lacks in flow it makes up for with stunning views and unique trail lines. After you realize that the trails were laid out by a trials rider, they start making sense. Numerous dispersed camp spots along the road leading to and around the trailhead offer excellent camping opportunities, too. Not into camping? Check out Gooseberry Mesa Yurts for a glamping experience that’s right next to the trails.

Photo by John Shafer



Various bike shops have come and gone but Over the Edge Hurricane has been a mainstay in the area for the last 16 years. The owner, Quentin Morisette and his wife DJ, are not just owners, they are passionate riders and helped spearhead and build the Rhythm and Blues trail system just outside of town. They carry high end  brands such as Pivot, Ibis, Esker, Rocky Mountain, Knolly, Evil and BMC. OTE has a rental program and highly talented mechanics that properly fixed up a problematic MBA test bike that we didn’t have the tools to deal with on our visit.


Photo by Zach White



The desert floor below Gooseberry Mesa contains classic desert cross country trails including the infamous GEM trail and Hurricane Rim trail. These trails are almost the exact opposite of Gooseberry; they flow, they’re fast and there are few rocky sections. The views across the valley and at the Hurricane rim are spectacular, but there is not a lot of elevation drop in these trails. Climbs tend to be gradual in nature, and so are the descents, but both are incredibly fun.


Photo by John Shafer



On the last weekend of March the town opens its doors and trails to mountain bikers with the Hurricane Mountain Bike Festival. The three-day gathering includes factory demos and organized shuttles to the best trails in the area. Skills clinics, a beer garden, breakfast, dinner, food trucks, live DJs and raffles all add up to one of the best ways to experience riding in Hurricane.


Photo by John Shafer



Guacamole Mesa’s trails are as delicious as its name with the closest thing you’ll get to Moab slickrock like terrain in the area. Trails here traverse mounds of light-colored sandstone intertwined with ribbons of desert singletrack. Although they are marked well, the trails can be hard to follow at times, so downloading GPS tracks might help you stay on course. And, like seemingly every trail zone in the Hurricane area, Guacamole Mesa has outstanding views to the south looking towards Gooseberry Mesa. Trails include Margarita, Salt on the Rim, Guacamole and Holy Guacamole.


Brendan Fairclough.
Photo by Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool



Every fall the cliffs above Hurricane are home to one of the greatest spectacles in mountain biking: the Red Bull Rampage. Athletes spend days digging creative and terrifying lines in the cliffs, then hurl themselves down in spectacular fashion. Like most events of this nature this is one you need to see in person to truly appreciate the size, speed and heaviness of the risk involved. Although it’s a party at the bottom on event day you can collectively feel the crowd hold its breath every time a rider rolls off the top.



One of the newer trail systems in the Hurricane area lies just west of town near the Quail Creek Reservoir. The Rock N Roll and Rhythm and Blues trails under the bluffs on the northwest side of this zone offer super fun and flowy intermediate level routes that either continue North on the Quail Creek trail or back to the area’s center on the beginner friendly Twist and Shout trail. The hills on the east side of this zone range from flowy intermediate- to advanced-level tech like the Cub and Boy Scout trails. These trails were purpose-built because many of the Hurricane area’s trails feature clay-based soils that are not rideable when wet. The soil here is rocky and sandy so it is the perfect place to ride when everything else is too wet. At this point the trails do not wrap all the way around the reservoir, but there are future plans to make them connect.



East of Gooseberry lies yet another pair of scenic mesas that we are grouping together because of their proximity to each other. Wire Mesa is to the east and features a fun, flowy seven-mile loop with lots of nice scenery. Grafton Mesa has something that Gooseberry and Wire are missing—elevation drop. Combine that with some fairly technical trails and you have a recipe for some good times. Riders can do short lollipop loops out on the mesa or drop down into the Virgin River valley below. The stair steps on Grafton Mesa trail and ledges on More Money lend themselves to more experienced and advanced riders. Down at the bottom is also the infamous Grafton Gap jump for those who want to really send it. From there you can either shuttle or ride up the steep and rough Smithsonian Butte road back to the top.



A clever description piqued our interest while Goggle searching for lunch: “A bakery/cafe with its own bees.” The Muddy Bees Bakery (muddybeesbakery.com) is a family-owned business with an actual beehive inside. Don’t worry, glass separates you from the bees. As cool as the bees are, it’s the sandwiches, bread and soup that impressed us most. Plus, the workers behind the counter are incredibly nice folks. Want something a little heavier? Check out the Main Street Cafe around the corner from the bike shop whose chipotle bacon burger knocked our socks off. If you’re craving something a little more upscale, head up to Balcony One (balconyonevirgin.com) up Highway 9 for a little fine dining with views of Zion in the distance.



Just a thirty minute drive east of Hurricane lies one of the most stunning places in the country—Zion National Park. Although there is no mountain biking there, the views and hikes are not to be missed. The drive through the main section alone is worth the price of entry, but hiking the narrows or seeing Angel’s Landing via the West Rim trail are truly next level. It’s the perfect place to break up a few days of riding with something off the bike.

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