Canal Trail & Santa Clara River Trail, Pine Valley, UT

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.

Getting there: Take 18N to Pine Valley

Veyo Shoal Creek Road, Surely Scenic Gravel Ride Sampler

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.

Navajo Lake Loop: MTB Nirvana, Cedar City, UT

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. It was by accident that I arrived here as I had set out to do the Navajo Loop Trail in Brian Head, but never found that trail head. Instead, I thought I’d try my luck at the Navajo Lake Loop and I was not not disappointed.

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. Apologies, I didn’t take as many pictures as I usually do – guess I was having too much fun. Guess, you’ll have to go see how beautiful it is for yourself.

Interesting fact: The lake was created when a lava flow dammed the eastern end of the valley.

Distance: 11 Miles

Staring elevation: 9,035′

Elevation gain: 827 ft

NLT vista 1

Just right for my Sunday afternoon. In case you’re wondering what this place looks like in the winter, here’s a pic from an afternoon snow shoeing in Deer Valley.

Frozen Navajo Lake

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.

Exploring the Anasazi Trail, Ivins, UT: Panoramic views, petrogylphs, and ancient ruins

Highlights: Spectacular red rock and Santa Clara River gorge views with the bonus of petroglyphs and ancient ruins.

Getting there: The trailhead is just off old US highway 91, near gorgeous Ivin’s reservoir so you can take a dip after your hike. Just look for the Anasazi Trail sign.

Difficulty: Easy, it’s a gradual incline and a short hike that’s suitable for the whole family. Terrain is mostly easy footing, but entirely exposed so plan accordingly and bring plenty of water, a  hat, and sunblock.

The main trail takes you by 1,000 year old remnants of an ancient Indian farmstead, through the petroglyphs, and up along the rim of the Santa Clara River gorge.

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Length: The main trail is a 2.9 mile loop, but there are many more spur trails to explore that traverse the ridge and valleys.

Free entry. Mountain bikes and leashed dogs allowed. 

On Living YOUR Epic Life

I’m not one to throw the word epic around. (Disclaimer: I guess I’m guilty of overuse  when it comes to mountain bike ride descriptions: Tahoe’s Flume Trail  for 1.) In any case,  I don’t claim to be a “life coach”, but I know 1 thing —life is short and unpredictable.

My Dad had a debilitating stroke on the first night of the Hawaii vacation that my brother and I treated him too. He’d never really treated himself to anything in his entire life. And after the stroke and the paralysis he suffered, his ability to enjoy life or even take care of the most basic daily activities was severely diminished. If you’re waiting for something to happen until you do what you really want to do, let me suggest that you stop waiting and take the steps you need to take toward making it happen. Today.

Of course, I’ve procrastinated on following any number of my dreams too. But ever since Dad’s stroke and his subsequent death, my bike accidents, misc surgeries, etc. etc. (pile on effect), I’ve been determined to align my life and actions with my values. And that includes living somewhere where I’m closer to nature and able to live the outdoor, active lifestyle that I treasure. Sure, I’ve been fortunate to live a good part of my life in a place that many people consider dreamy – -Southern California. And I’d never taken its beauty and the many wonderful adventures I’ve had here for granted, but I’m ready for open horizons and roads—free from the excessive congestion that surrounds this place.

The  adventures I’ve had these past few years have have all been part of my quest to find my new home. I’ve road-tripped through Montana, Idaho, and Washington and found some delightful spots and top contenders, including Sandpoint ID, Port Angles WA, but none checked all my virtual boxes. Until St. George, UT. If you’ve been following my posts, it was a bit of a whirlwind romance. A year ago I visited, came back for seconds, and then I committed.

Yes, I’ve definitely had some second thoughts, self-doubt, and fleeting panic attacks, but I come back to that cliched  question – “If not now, when?” It’s a bizarre and unsettling time to be making a a major life transition, but I’m doing it. Last week, I moved about 60% of my stuff there and was fortunate to enjoy a couple mountain bike rides while I was there.

This 28 mile loop ride near Gunlock State Park was simply epic. See for yourself. It will likely be one of my top local rides.

I am happiest when I am immersed in nature’s beauty and being vigorously active. This is part of what living an epic life means to me. What does it mean to you and are you living it? If not, why not?