There is a sentence that is always exciting for me to say: There is a new trail in Washington County! (Followed closely by: There is a new trail anywhere in Southern Utah!)
Rising another step higher on top of the Hurricane Cliffs is Gooseberry Mesa. A trail system that is a masterpiece of man and Mother Nature lives on “The Goose,” and is well known among mountain bikers literally worldwide thanks to write-ups and videos in major media. However, something new has happened just a few miles east of Gooseberry Mesa on a smaller mesa nestled in a canyon adjacent to Eagles Crags in Zion National Park. Seven-ish miles of fresh singletrack that snakes its way along the mesa’s rim, while making frequent forays into the mesa’s interior, for an entertaining blast on some great trails: Wire Mesa.
What sets Wire Mesa apart from its big brother Gooseberry, as well as other mesa trails in the area like Guacamole and Little Creek, is its toned-down techy-ness. A major reason is Wire’s lack of exposed sandstone—so a good portion of the trail is dirt with rocky sections interspersed where they’re available. The trail was designed, in fact, to be less intimidating to newer slickrock riders. For example, where the tech gets a bit intense, a secondary route is provided for the less daring. This trail was also well thought out, as far as creating flow—meaning the turns are arced in a way as to keep momentum up and grins coming—a fact that will not be lost on newer riders, since momentum is your friend when it comes to getting up and over an outcropping of sandstone or a punchy uphill. So, if a turn swoops smoothly into a rock “problem” you will already have the advantage of momentum on your side! A valuable skill to learn for when you start exploring some of the more technical trails in the area.
Am I saying Wire Mesa is a “beginner” trail? I personally wouldn’t take someone on their first ride there, but a person with some miles under their belt should be able to handle most of it. If you bring a newbie out there, keep in mind that slickrock demands a whole skillset of its own, so cut them some slack and go slow for their benefit. You may even want to backtrack and session a section so the “newb” can get it sorted out.
Am I saying Wire Mesa won’t be fun for more advanced riders? Definitely not! The slickrock sections are fun and interesting, and frankly, who doesn’t like flowy singletrack? There’s a bit of a debate as to which direction is the best to ride. I usually do a lap in each direction while out there to get in some miles, and I find both to be quite fun, but clockwise, it seems, may actually flow a little more. Try them both for yourself and see.
To get there, head for Gooseberry: Highway 59, past Apple Valley. Take a left onto the Smithsonian Butte byway, but instead of taking the a left where the Gooseberry Mesa sign is, proceed straight a few more miles (about five and a half miles from the pavement) and look for the small sign on the left. Take that road down about one hundred yards and there is the trailhead. That’s where the fun begins!
One word of warning though: you’ll want to give yourself a little extra time (or a lot!) to take in the views! I have ridden Gooseberry so very many times, that about ten years ago I figured I’d ridden at least a thousand miles there. Hand on heart, I’ve never gotten tired of the views. So I was quite surprised at how much of a change in perspective traveling a few miles east could produce. It’s a beautiful world we live in. Enjoy it!
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