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.
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.
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?
Bike up the backside of Palomar Mountain. Get a great workout while enjoying some solitude and splendid views of the San Diego back country, including Vail Lake and numerous snow-capped peaks (Thomas Mountain, San Jacinto, and San Gorgonio). This is nontechnical mountain biking at its best. If you like a climb with views, it’s a good one. Exceeded my expectations.
Their loss, our advantage.
We turned around at mile 8 as the trail was getting muddy and we were running out of daylight. It’s worth coming back to finish it off. Will update this post when I do. Until then, let the good times roll! What a spectacular way to spend the first day of 2020!
Miles: 12 Miles / 24 Miles Roundtrip
Elevation: ~4,000 ft
Difficulty: Depends on your fitness level, knee health, and affinity for climbs. Very doable, the super steep sections are relatively short. Terrain has some rutty sections, but mostly good. This would also be a great trail run, or training for the Catalina Marathon, or any endurance races.
Directions: From Temecula, take HWY 79 east for 18 miles. Stay on HWY 79 and make a right 2/10ths of a mile past the junction of HWY 371 to an RV park/resort. Follow the paved road for 0.3 miles then park in the large dirt area in front of the Fire Service Road 8S05
Notes: There’s no water along this exposed route—plan accordingly. It’s hot during the summer and you may encounter snow during winter, or mud after heavy rains or melts. Vehicles are allowed on this route, but seasonal closures for motorized access often occur. (A bonus for mountain bikers and trail runners.) Further up the mountain, the Forest Service has labeled the High Point Truck Trail (8S05) as 9S09 between this junction and the Palomar Divide Truck. When in doubt, stay on the most “main” looking route.
Bonus: Be sure to top off your ride with a visit to Ricardo Breceda’s amazing outdoor gallery of metal sculptures. Also, check out his work in wild open spaces of Anza Borrego too!