When you arrive at Goblin Valley State Park, you know you’re in Utah, but you may think you’re on another planet. Goblin Valley’s otherworldly scenery attracts visitors and filmmakers alike. The movie Galaxy Quest was filmed here.
While the small park offers a mere total of 6 miles of hiking, you may find yourself wandering for hours through the dramatic, twisted hoodoos, goblins, and rock mushrooms. The majority of the hoodoos can be encountered in the Valley of Goblins, an open free—range hiking area of 3 sq miles.
Be sure to check out the Goblin’s Lair (a massive cavern/ slot canyon), the Goblette’s Lair, 3 Sisters, and Molly’s Castle.
If you prefer to take in the unusual views by 2 wheels, you can enjoy the 7 miles of Wild Horse Mountain Biking Trail System.
Elevation gain: ~1,437 (There’s a gradual ascent in the first 2 miles or so and rollers beyond. If you go down to the Canal, you’ll have the return climb.)
Terrain: Single track (A few areas of “exposure” –other than those, generally great for trail running and mountain biking, except as noted on the trail – beware “The Drop”.)
The views are spectacular on this trail—stretching out to ZION and dropping down to the Canal below. Just over a mile into the Rim Trail, you’ll come to aptly named Panorama Point. Here, you’re standing on the Hurricane Fault, one of the longest earthquake faults in the world. Before you, the expansive western edge of the Colorado Plateau and the convergence of the Basin, Range, and the Mojave Desert. The Kaibab limestone cliffs date back to the Paleozoic era when the ocean submerged the area.
At about mile 2.4, you’ll reach a junction to go down the Canal Trail or continue on the rim. I took the Canal Trail about 3.25 miles down and explored around there. There are many discoveries to be made along the way, including tunnels, historical remnants, and hot springs. (Unfortunately, the latter are now behind posted No Trespassing signs.)
There are a couple of options to explore here by foot or by mountain bike. There’s a sign at the trailhead with the details that I’ve summarized below. Hikers and bikers may find it somewhat disconcerting/comforting that the hospital emergency phone number is listed at the top of the sign.
HURRICANE CLIFFS TRAIL SYSTEM
Bowery Trail One-mile round trip hike that follows the Canal, going over a flume and through a tunnel. (Not exactly sure where this one starts.)
Historic Hurricane CANAL TRAIL Traverse from the Hurricane Hill Trailhead to Virgin Dam Trailhead – 5.2 miles one way. The first 2 miles are rated moderate. The last 3.2 miles are rated strenuous.
Mountain Biking the 21-mile “LOOP”
Canal/Rim Trail (first 1.8 miles), Rim Trail, Jem Trail, Goulds Trail, and Goulds Rim Trail. The “LOOP” route is typically ridden counter-clockwise. For a shorter ride of your choosing, you can opt to do an out and back or arrange a car shuttle.
Notes: Horseback riding is permitted from Virgin Dam Rim Trail to Chinatown Wash and on the Gould’s Rim Trail. This hike is exposed –spring, fall, & winter are probably preferable to hiking here in the summer heat.
Getting there: Go south about a mile on US-59 up the hill above Hurricane City. The Hurricane Rim trailhead parking area is on your left and marked by several cell phone towers.
Ps. I know some time has passed since my last post. I’ve been caught up in my adventures and have some serious catching up to do on my posts. Stay tuned and thanks for visiting.
Distance: ~6 miles- if you car shuttle, ~12 roundtrip
Elevation gain: ~700-1k
Difficulty: Easy to moderate, depending on your fitness level
Terrain: Mostly a sweet, smooth single track trail, which is why mountain bikers are taking to it too
What can I say? Pine Valley never disappoints. These two trails are a lovely way to spend a couple hours immersed in nature and the fresh, delightfully cooler air.
You can pick up the Canal Trail in 3 spots:
The Cemetery Trail on the left before town will take you up and merge you with the Canal Trail on the rim, where you make a right. (Car shuttle opportunity–1 car here, the other at Mitt Moody Campground.)
You can take the Gardner Peak Trail to where it merges with the Canal Trail and make a right or left – it’s about the midway point if you only want to do part of the trail.
You can start / finish at the Mitt Moody Campground behind site 5. (A car shuttle is handy if you don’t want to walk the same path twice.)
Any route you choose will be pleasant – the Cemetery Trail and Gardner Peak Trail pack the elevation in the first mile and it’s gravy after that. The most gentle approach is the Mitt Moody start. Under the cover of Ponderosa Pine you’ll enjoy wonderful views of Pine Valley and the surrounding mountains.
If you prefer a a short, paved trail, the Santa Clara River Trail is a wonderful alternative or add on. This family-friendly, 2.6 mile out and back trail runs through the forest along a stream and to the reservoir. It can be accessed at Mitt Moody Campground or across from the Gardner Peak parking lot.
Practically in my backyard and I just discovered it today thanks to Deb of PlanetUltra. This is part of the course for the PlanetUltra Volcano Ride (120k). Panoramic views, nice road quality, and some solid climbs take you from the back of Gunlock out to the Enterprise Reservoir. I turned around ~16 miles in due to self-inflicted cleat failure and sore knees from Thursday’s Epic ride up Smith Mesa (post to come). If you go all the way to the reservoir, it’s ~20+ miles each direction and 3-5k elevation.
I don’t tend to throw the word epic around much though I have been on some epic mountain bike rides – Tahoe’s Flume Trail, Lake Crescent’s Spruce Railroad Trail, and while not epic per se, that little gem, Diamond Valley Lake was quite lovely too. Fond memories of those rides were stirred up by my ride today on the Navajo Lake Trail. As you can see, Navajo Lake and the surrounding area dazzles in the Fall. It’s quite sweet in the Summer too, a great spot to escape the heat of St. George as it’s usually at least 10 degrees cooler.
It’s a sweet, highly scenic, nontechnical single track cruise by way of Navajo Lake Loop Trail and the Virgin River Rim Trail, aka the other half of the Navajo Lake Loop Trail. Great for mountain biking, trail running, or a hike.
Interesting fact: The lake was created when a lava flow dammed the eastern end of the valley.
Staring elevation: 9,035′
Elevation gain: 827 ft
Navajo Lake Summer vibes – View from the Rim Trail section
Winter vibes—taken from a hill above Deer Valley cross country and snowshoe area.
Getting there: From Cedar City go east on Scenic Byway SR 14, 25 miles to the Navajo Lake road turnoff and keep your eyes open for the Navajo Lake Loop Trailhead parking sign on the right side of the road. It’s free to park.
Ps. There are campgrounds, and fishing, boating, and swimming are allowed.