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Spring Thaw: 5 Fabulous Mountain Biking Destinations

Originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of Spoke+Blossom.


A sure-fire way to fuel your stoke for bike season is to get an annual spring bike trip on your calendar. While we emerge from our winter hibernation and our ski town snow begins its slow melt, we crave heat and desert sun as were acquaint ourselves with our saddles. To spark your pedaling possibilities, we’ve compiled this “fab five” list.

RICHFIELD, UTAH

Playing on rock slabs along the Spinal Tap Trail in Richfield, Utah.

Photo by I Ling Thompson


If you’re in search of purpose-built, single-track mountain bike trails, you’ve arrived. Richfield’s semi-desert climate is home to the visionary Pahvant trails, conveniently located minutes from I-70. With their Sedona-esque views, these well-marked trails are made with a whole lotta trail-building love. From grin-inducing beginner trails to the adrenaline rush from descending 18miles of expert technical features and flow on the soon-to-be-famous Spinal Tap Trail, Richfield delivers to every level of rider. Set up a shuttle or pedal up to descend Lower Spinal Tap and/or Telegraph. Take advantage of the — currently free — dispersed camping along the shuttle road, and convince the goat in your group to pedal up the road to retrieve the shuttle car (don’t forget the keys).


CAÑON CITY, COLORADO

While once known mostly for its proximity to the iconic Royal Gorge Bridge suspended above the Arkansas River — thanks to the vision of dedicated locals and coordinated BLM efforts —Cañon City has put itself on the mountain bike map. Uniquely situated between the Sangre de Cristos and Pikes Peak, there’s typically year-round riding due to abundant sunshine and low snowfall. Oil Well Flat’s rocky and punchy sections of trail will challenge intermediate and advanced riders alike, and the Island in the Sky is a must-do descent along a somewhat technical rim. Royal Gorge Park (which also boasts campgrounds) and South Cañon trails deliver breathtaking vistas along green and blue terrain through junipers and piñons. On Main Street sits Red Canyon Cycles side-by-side with The Bean Pedaler (which brilliantly houses The Handle barin the back), and together, they deliver the ultimate trifecta: bikes, coffee and beers.


HURRICANE, UTAH

Capturing the Magic at Wire Mesa in Hurricane, Utah.

Photo by I Ling Thompson


With its dramatic mesas and miles of slick rock offering up views of Zion National Park, the tiny outpost of Hurricane is Southern Utah’s epicenter of mountain biking. Pro tip: impress the locals by pronouncing it “her-uh-kin.” While Gooseberry Mesa is the most famous, Little Creek Mountain, Wire Mesa and Guacamole (plus many more)each warrant a lap by intermediate to advanced riders. In the lower foothills, there’s more fun to be had pedaling the beginner-friendly Jem Trails, and there’s downright classic cross-country miles on the famous Hurricane Rim IMBA Epic Loop. If there’s more in your tank, drive 20 minutes to St. George to ride Bear claw Poppy’s green delight or get a quick technical fix on Zen.

Before you set off on your two-wheeled adventure, show your bike some tune-up love, check the local trail conditions where you’re headed to ensure they’re open and consider donating to the local trails you visit as a way to pay it forward. Embrace the saddle sore and the copious dollops of sunblock as your winter self begins its spring thaw.


PATAGONIA, ARIZONA

Located 50 miles south of Tucson and 18miles north of Nogales, Mexico, this unique, borderland, mountain town won’t be a secret much longer. Patagonia is a gateway to some of Arizona’s best gravel roads, including the rugged and diverse Arizona Trail, and is ripe for your next bike packing adventure. You’ll be swept away with this area’s stunning and expansive landscape and rewarded with solitude and copious saddle time. It’s no surprise it’s also home to The Spirit World 100 Gravel Race. With more wide-open space than people (population is around 900), you’ll want to be fully prepared before setting out on any adventure. Swing by Patagonia Bikes for any last-minute service or supply needs. Sigh, the big decision is, how many bikes do you pack?


CORTEZ, COLORADO

Thanks to recent trail-building efforts, Phil’s World now boasts nearly 60 miles of hard-pack, fun-inducing singletrack in the Four Corners Region. Packed with mostly smooth, fast and flowy green and blue trails free of sustained climbs, it’s where everyone can feel like a hero. For the ultimate rollercoaster, ride Rib Cage with all its whoops, and revel in the joy it elicits. Add in Poquito Burrito for a technical challenge, or meet your whoop quota with multiple Rib Cage laps. Note that Phil’s Trails are directional and are to be ridden clockwise. Before you ride, drop some cash in the parking lot paybox to offset the costs to maintain these world-famous trails. Pack your camp chairs and hibachi grill to embrace the post-ride tailgate parking lot scene in all its glory.


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