A Complete Guide To Mountain Biking In Hurricane, Utah

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Learn everything you need to know about Hurricane Utah mountain biking including the best trails, epic loops, where to eat, and more
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Do you love adrenaline-pumping mountain biking? Then you’ll definitely want to check out Hurricane, Utah! This small town is renowned for its incredible trails and arguably boasts some of the best mountain biking in the country.

In this guide, I’ll give you all the information you need to enjoy a day (or more!) of mountain biking in Hurricane. So grab your bike and let’s hit the trails!


Why mountain bike in Hurricane Utah?

Hurricane (pronounced “Her-ah-kun” by the locals) is an amazing mountain bike destination in southwestern Utah. It’s still slightly under the radar, but over the last few years, Hurricane, Utah mountain biking has definitely become a favorite for many riders.

One thing that makes Hurricane so special are the views out over Zion National Park. They’re jaw-dropping. The town is located just outside of Zion, so almost every trail rewards you with amazing views of flat-topped mesas and red and white towering peaks.

I also personally think that the rolling slickrock of Hurricane has more flow and variety than its red rock neighbor to the east (aka Moab). You’ll find miles and miles of rolling rock terrain that will have your legs pumping and lungs gasping air with each punchy climb. But it’s a whole lot of fun and will quickly improve your slow-speed riding skills.

There’s also something for every rider in Hurricane. Choose Gooseberry Mesa for slickrock or head over to Wire Mesa for more flow and incredible views. The Jem trails lower down are great for catching air or for beginners not quite up for the challenging rock rolls. And if you are really eager to test your skills, the Hurricane area is where they hold the annual Red Bull Rampage, so there’s definitely pro-level terrain for those looking to get rowdy.

Landscape views out over the red rock bluffs and mesas outside of Zion National Park in Hurricane, Utah
Almost every trail in Hurricane rewards you with views like this!

Important Things to Know Before Mountain Biking in Hurricane, Utah

Rain makes the roads turn to mayonnaise

DO NOT attempt to drive into trailheads during or after a rainstorm. The clay soil is no joke and even if you’re in a high clearance 4×4 vehicle you run the risk of getting stuck. Like really stuck. This dirt goes from tacky and dry to wet and slippery real fast.

The BLM service has done a good job over the past few years to build and better maintain the roads, but they’re still no match for wet weather. If it does rain while you’re in Hurricane, take a rest day and let things dry out for at least 24 hours.

The exposure is no joke in some places. Mountain bikers have died

In fact, a mountain biker died on Gooseberry Mesa just a few days before our last visit. He was trying to pedal out to the point and crashed and fell 200ft. The exposure is real and there are many places where you do not want to fall. Know your limitations – physically and mentally – and don’t try to impress others.

Gooseberry, Little Creek, and Wire Mesa have the most exposure while Guacamole and Jem are a little less scary (but not exposure-free).

Summer temps are brutal

The summer temps in Hurricane can easily reach over 100F°. I don’t recommend mountain biking in Hurricane past April or before September. Even the shoulder months can get really warm, so be sure to check the weather and bring lots of water and hydration supplements on your rides.

Mountain biker riding on slickrock trail in Hurricane, Utah with red rock bluffs in background

6 Mountain Bike networks in Hurricane

Hurricane, Utah mountain biking is broken up into six main mountain biking networks:

  1. Hurricane Cliffs (also known as the Jem Trails)
  2. Wire Mesa
  3. Gooseberry Mesa
  4. Little Creek
  5. Guacamole
  6. Grafton Mesa & the Money Trails

Each network is a bit of a drive from one another, so it’s best to explore one area and then move on to the next. I provide several route recommendations in the next section.

1. Hurricane Cliffs (the JEM Trails)

Hurricane Cliffs is the trail network located closest to town and is a great place to warm up the legs before getting into the more challenging terrain up in Gooseberry or Little Creek. The views out over Zion are also amazing.

Most of the trails are suited for beginner/intermediate mountain bikers, but many of them also have fun and engaging features that will entertain even the most experienced riders.

Female mountain biker riding down smooth singletrack in Hurricane, Utah
Hurricane Cliffs is a great place to warm up before tackling the harder stuff

2. Wire Mesa

Wire Mesa is a bit of a step up from Hurricane Cliffs, but still suitable for beginner/intermediate riders. It’s also one of my favorite loops in Hurricane thanks to its mixed terrain, amazing views, and relatively quick pedal. You can do the loop in either direction, but my preferred route is clockwise.

Becky riding up steep slickrock trail on mountain bike in Hurricane, Utah
The Wire Mesa loop is one of my favorite rides in Hurricane!

3. Gooseberry Mesa

The shining star of Hurricane, Utah mountain biking, Gooseberry Mesa is the reason why many riders head to this area. It’s got a ton of great riding with lots of slickrock and amazing views.

There is severe exposure in some places and the riding feels a bit akin to a lower leg bootcamp thanks to all the punchy ups, so don’t underestimate your miles here. Pedaling out to Gooseberry Point is also a must.

Becky standing on rock ledge on Gooseberry Point with mountain bike helmet on
Pedaling out to Gooseberry Point is a must

4. Little Creek

Little Creek is a lot like Gooseberry Mesa, but a little rougher and a lot less popular. It’s also not as well marked, so definitely have the TrailForks app downloaded to your phone. Like Gooseberry, there are a lot of slickrock rollers, some exposure, and several cool features like a dry waterfall line (the hardest feature here) and narrow rock bridges. This isn’t the best place for beginners, but if you’re up for a challenge, go for it.

5. Guacamole

Guacamole is my favorite network out of all of the Hurricane, Utah mountain biking. It’s located outside of La Verkin (instead of Hurricane) and offers different views and slightly different terrain including a mix of flowy singletrack and rolling slickrock. The area was burned by a fire a few years ago, which – in my opinion – adds to its beauty and intrigue. The outer loop of Holy Guacamole is also home to a ton of petrified wood artifacts, which are super cool!

One thing to note about mountain biking at Guacamole is that the trails are definitely not marked as well as Gooseberry or other Hurricane networks. You’ll be swiveling your head constantly to search for the next cairn and it’s easy to get off track. Be sure to bring a phone with the TrailForks app downloaded.

The road into Guacamole is also very steep at the end. Don’t attempt it after or during a rainstorm.

As for trails, there’s one big lollipop loop and one smaller loop with several add-on trails. See below for route recommendations.

Mountain biker riding on single trail in Hurricane, Utah with expansive red rock bluffs in background
Guacamole offers amazing views and more varied terrain

6. Grafton Mesa & The Money Trails

Grafton Mesa and the Money Trails make up a small and challenging network near Wire Mesa. They are unsanctioned trails built and (mostly) ridden by locals. These trails aren’t well marked and they are pretty technical so they should only be ridden by experienced mountain bikers.

Becky on mountain bike riding down rocky and technical section on trail in Hurricane, Utah
The Money Trails and Grafton Mesa have some of the most challenging and technical trails

Best mountain bike trails in Hurricane + Route Recommendations

There’s a lot of great mountain biking in Hurricane, Utah but here is a quick list of what I consider to be the 6 best trails to ride and a few route recommendations on how to link them up.

6 Must-Ride Trails in Hurricane

  1. Dead Ringer (Hurricane Cliffs, Beginner)
  2. Goulds Rim (Hurricane Cliffs, Beginner)
  3. Wire Mesa Loop (Wire Mesa, Intermediate)
  4. North Rim (Goosberry Mesa, Intermediate)
  5. South Rim (Gooseberry Mesa, Advanced)
  6. Holy Guacamole (Guacamole, Advanced)

5 Fun Route Recommendations

1. Mellow Jem

ROUTE STATS

  • Route difficulty: Beginner
  • Trail network: JEM Trails (aka Hurricane Cliffs)
  • Highlight trails: JEM and Dead Ringer
  • Mileage: 11 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 817 ft
  • Route directions: Hurricane Rim North parking > Jem > Dead Ringer > Jem (or climb JEM and descend Dead Ringer)
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks
Map of Hurricane Cliffs mountain bike loop in Hurricane, Utah
Mellow JEM

This loop hits two of the most popular trails in Hurricane Cliffs: JEM and Dead Ringer. I actually prefer to do it in the opposite direction by climbing JEM and descending Dead Ringer because I think Dead Ringer is more fun as a descent.

This is a great ride to do with the family or a day 1 warm-up if you’ve never ridden in Hurricane.

Make it longer

If you want to make it a longer ride, climb back up JEM after descending Dead Ringer and hit Goosebumps to Cryptobionic for a second fun descent.

Make it even longer

If you’re looking for a BIG day out at Hurricane Cliffs, the 24-mile Hurricane Rim IMBA Epic Loop is a pedaly cross-country ride with amazing views and some fun descents.

2. Wire Mesa Loop

ROUTE STATS

  • Route difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate
  • Trail network: Wire Mesa
  • Highlight trail: Wire Mesa
  • Mileage: 7.5 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 564 ft
  • Route directions: Wire Mesa Trailhead > Wire Mesa loop trail
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks
Map of Best of Wire Mesa mountain bike loop in Hurricane, Utah
Wire Mesa Loop

This is such a great loop, one of my favorites in Hurricane. It’s relatively short with not much climbing, but the views are spectacular and the riding is just engaging enough to not be repetitive. Keep your eye out for alt-lines. You can ride it in either direction, but I prefer clockwise.

Make it harder

There isn’t an option to make the Wire Loop longer or harder, but the Money Trails are just a short drive away so you can tack a ride on there after you’re finished with the Wire Mesa Loop.

The Money Trails are definitely technical and challenging, so only attempt them if you’re an experienced rider. This route has a fun descent down Show Me The Money and More Money and then it’s a 2.5-mile dirt-road pedal back to the start.

3. Best of Guacamole

ROUTE STATS

  • Route difficulty: Expert
  • Trail network: Guacamole
  • Highlight trails: Guacamole and Holy Guacamole
  • Mileage: 10.7 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 709 ft
  • Route directions: Guacamole Trailhead > Margarita > Guacamole > Lime With A Twist > Holy Guacamole > Lime With A Twist (optional) > Margarita > Salt On The Rim (optional) > Margarita
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks
Map of Best of Guacamole mountain bike loop in Hurricane, Utah
Best of Guacamole

This is a love or hate ride. I personally love it and I prefer Guacamole over Gooseberry Mesa. But that being said, it’s not an easy ride nor is it well marked in places, so you need to have TrailForks or MTB Project downloaded to your phone. But if you love a bit of challenging tech, pedaling, and amazing views, this loop will be right up your alley!

It’s best-ridden clockwise for better flow and don’t underestimate the miles here – there are a lot of punchy climbs and pedaling.

Lime With A Twist and Salt On the Rim are optional at the end, but fun little side routes if you still have the energy in your legs. Keep your eye out for petrified wood on the side of the trails in the outer loop!

Make it shorter & Easier

If you don’t want to do the full Guacamole loop, you can opt to leave out Holy Guacamole. This will shorten your ride by about 4 miles and make it quite a bit less challenging and technical. It’s best to ride the Guacamole loop clockwise.

4. Best of Gooseberry

ROUTE STATS

  • Route difficulty: Expert
  • Trail network: Gooseberry Mesa
  • Highlight trails: South Rim, North Rim
  • Mileage: 11 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 743 ft
  • Route directions: Gooseberry parking > Practice > Bowls and Ledges > North Rim > Yellow > Gooseberry Point > South Rim
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks
Map of Best of Gooseberry Mesa mountain bike loop in Hurricane, Utah
Best of Gooseberry

This is my go-to loop on Gooseberry Mesa. Start off with some rolling slickrock on Bowls and Ledges then warm up to the exposure on North Rim. Take a break at Gooseberry Point (definitely worth going out to!) before descending down my favorite trail of Gooseberry Mesa – South Rim – back to the car.

Make it Slightly easier

The most challenging part of the above route is South Rim because of exposure and some steep, technical rock sections. To avoid the exposure and major technical sections, take White Trail to Hidden Canyon (which is pretty cool) and then link back up the South Rim to finish the ride.

Make it much easier

From Gooseberry Point, take White Rim Trail all the way back to the car. This is a doubletrack road that ATV’s also use, so be aware of oncoming traffic. Note that you’ll still have some big exposure on North Rim if you follow this route.

5. Little Creek Mountain

ROUTE STATS

  • Route difficulty: Expert
  • Trail network: Little Creek
  • Highlight trails: West Loop
  • Mileage: 13 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 1,027 ft
  • Route directions: Little Creek Mountain parking > West Loop > Little Creek Slickrock > North Loop > Little Creek Slickrock > LCM Connect > Little Creek Slickrock
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks
Map of Little Creek Mountain mountain bike loop in Hurricane, Utah
Little Creek Mountain

This big loop encompasses pretty much all the trails in Little Creek. Little Creek is a good place to explore if you’ve already ridden the other networks and/or you want to get away from the crowds. I will say this is my least favorite network in Hurricane and like Guacamole, it’s also not very well marked.

Ride the West Loop clockwise and then connect into North Loop, also clockwise. Then descend down the LCM connector, which has a waterfall feature that is fun and maybe a little challenging depending on your skills. Finally, it’s mostly slickrock riding back to the parking area.

Make it shorter

If you want to cut the route shorter, simply skip the North Loop, which will cut off about 3 miles.


Best Time to Plan A mountain Bike Trip To Hurricane

Hurricane is a great shoulder and winter season mountain bike destination. October/November and March/April/May can be great times to visit thanks to cool temps and minimal rain. The winter months of December, January, and February can be chilly, but still rideable.

Always check the forecast before making plans, though. If there is a lot of rain coming – trust me, you do not want to ride in Hurricane. The roads turn to sludge!


What gear to pack

For a complete list of what mountain bike gear to pack for your trip to Hurricane, head over to my Complete Mountain Bike Trip Packing List and Mountain Bike Pack Essentials posts.

Below are a few items specific to mountain biking in Hurricane.

Gear Essentials

Black Fox Enduro sleeve knee pad for mountain biking

Knee Pads

Hurricane has a ton of slickrock riding and if you fall on it, ooofff! I always wear knee pads when I ride, but it’s especially important in Hurricane.

Osprey Raven mountain bike hydration backpack

Hydration pack

Do not underestimate the temperatures and sun exposure that are common in Hurricane. Bring at least 3L of water in your hydration pack no matter how short your ride is.

Garmin Edge 830 GPS bike computer

GPS Navigation

Having some sort of GPS navigation is essential in Hurricane since many of the trails are not well marked. You can use your phone with the TrailForks app downloaded, or use a GPS device like the Garmin Edge 830, which automatically connects to your TrailForks account.


Hurricane Bike Shops, Rentals, & More

Need to rent a bike or get a repair? Hurricane has several great bike shops as well as a few tour companies with guides that will show you around.

Hurricane Bike shops & rentals

  • Over The Edge Bike Shop: This is really the only bike shop you need to know about in Hurricane, Utah. These guys are super friendly and knowledgeable and will sell/rent/fix your bike without hassle. They also have showers available for $5 and offer Gooseberry Mesa shuttles | (435) 635-5455

Hurricane bike shuttles

  • Mountain Bike Buddies: Mark at Mountain Bike Buddies offers shuttles (NOT tours) to trailheads around the Hurricane/St. George area. Choose from a single trailhead like Gooseberry Mesa or opt for a full day’s worth of shuttling | (801) 842-1322

Hurricane Mountain Bike tours

  • Utah Mountain Bike Tours: Sign up for a half-day, full-day or multi-day tour with Utah Mountain Bike Tours. Kathi has been guiding in the Hurricane/St. George area since 2009 and has a decorated history with biking | (435) 635-7878

Discover more fun things to do in Hurricane


Best places to eat & drink in Hurricane

  • Dixie Pizza Wagon – This little pizza truck is one of the most popular places to eat in Hurricane. They serve from-scratch wood-fired pizza by the side of the road and it’s amazing. However… they’ve gotten super popular, so I would recommend calling to place an order right when you get done with your ride. They’re also only open Wednesday – Saturday.
  • Teotihuacan – This used to be a taco truck next to the Dixie Pizza Wagon, but they’ve since moved into a brick-and-mortar restaurant. They serve up tasty (and hefty) Mexican meals.
  • River Rock Roasting Company – This is one of my favorite places in the Hurricane area. The River Rock Roasting Company is actually in La Verkin, but right on the way to the Guacamole trails or Zion NP. It’s a combination of a coffee shop, bakery, sandwich shop, pizzeria, and beer window. And they have a rad balcony out back that looks out over the canyon. If you’re just looking for coffee, they also have a drive-through shop on the way up to Guacamole.
  • Main Street Cafe – Offering hearty breakfasts, lunches, and dinner, Main Street Cafe is a great place to fuel up. They have a great menu selection and the staff is super friendly.

Where to Camp & Sleep

Hurricane camping

Almost all of the land around Hurricane is BLM Land and free to camp on, which is awesome! An important thing to note, though, is that after a rain the dirt turns to sticky, red goo. It’s almost impossible to get a vehicle through and if you don’t have high clearance AND 4-wheel drive don’t even try.

All of these campsites are first-come-first-serve and don’t have any facilities:

  • Hurricane Cliffs Camping – There are over a dozen ‘sites’ in Hurricane Cliffs that are clearly marked as camping areas. This is the most popular place for people to set up, so it gets really busy. If there are a lot of campers, head over to the other side of Route 59 onto Gould Wash Rd. and you’ll find some sweet camping spots over there.
  • Wire Mesa Camping – There are a few sites at the entrance of Wire Mesa that are tucked back into the trees. If there aren’t any sites available, there are a few fire roads that branch off of the main road that have almost unlimited options.
  • Gooseberry Mesa Camping – The road into Gooseberry Mesa has campsites dotting each site. Some have amazing views out over Apple Valley. If you’re looking for a unique ‘glamping’ experience, the Gooseberry Yurts are also an option. There are four yurts for rent. They don’t have running water or electricity, but they are fully stocked with bedding, lanterns, and a cookstove.
Campervan at dispersed campsite on Gooseberry Mesa in Hurricane, Utah
One of our dispersed campsites on Gooseberry Mesa
  • Guacamole Camping – There are a dozen campsites right at the trailhead of Guacamole. The road into Guacamole has gotten better over the years, however, the last 100 yards is VERY STEEP. Do not attempt after rain (or even if there’s a chance of rain in the forecast).
  • Little Creek Camping – Like all of the other zones, there’s free primitive camping on the road into Little Creek.

Hotels

There are a handful of hotels in the St. George/Hurricane/La Verkin area. Keep in mind that a lot of travelers to Zion National Park book hotels in the area, so make reservations ahead of time.


What is your experience with Hurricane, Utah mountain biking? What are your favorites trails and loops to ride? Leave a comment below!

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