Day 16 - Brian Head Mountain Bike Ride's

Left Fork of Bunker Creek & Dark Hollow - UT

As there was an un seasonal hot area of air over St George and the temperatures were going to be over 100f during the day, we decided to go ride up at Brian Head. After checking there was a shuttle service running we drove there from St George. We arrived at where the shuttle service left at the Brian Head Giant Steps Lodge at about 10:10 am , as we unpacked the bikes I found I had a broken spoke, so then had to rush to replace the spoke before the 10:30 shuttle left. Luckily for me the bike park shop let me use their truing stand to true up the wheel. The shuttle cost $17.50 for each of us.
The shuttle has a giant dog in it which was as big as some of the people on the shuttle, There was only 1 other person on the shuttle who was going to do the same ride as us Left Fork of Bunker Creek, a girl from Norway called Johanna. The Shuttle takes you up to the start of the trail at about 11,000ft. When I had last ridden 8 years back the shuttle took you right to the top of Brian Head Peak.
We invited Johanna to join us on our ride, and we set off up the Sydney Peaks trail at about 10:49am. It was very windy up here, but wasn't too cold. With just a few clouds in the sky the sun kept us warm.
There are great views from the Sydney Peaks trail as it rolls along top the ridge line heading towards the Dark Hollow trail head. Off in the distance we could see a big plume of smoke from a distance forest fire. And down below you could see blazes of colour where the Aspen were starting to change colour.
There some nice easy down hill sections through stunted trees, with some rocky sections .
At the Dark Hollow junction at the 1 mile mark, we carried on straight along the Sydney Peak Trail. The trail is not all down hill as there are some up hill sections , and you can feel the effect of the altitude as you ride up the hills.
The singletrack continued undulating up and down and goes across wide open alpine meadows. With nice views all around.
My legs didn't feel that tired once , i'd ridden through the initial stiffness I felt from the 2 day Zion Narrows hike. It felt good to be back on a bike.
It was really windy at this point where I took this picture.

After about 3.6 miles you come to a saddle with this rocky outcrop.

From the outcrop the trail heads across the Sydney valley road and then we took a right turn for the Left Fork of Bunker Creek Trail.
The Left Fork trail is a great fast singletrack trail which heads down through the Aspen. In places the trail gets fairly wide due to all the traffic on the trail. And is quite loose rocky and dusty in places
As Johanna was slightly slower than me and rick I had plenty of opportunities to take pictures of of us as we dropped down through the Aspen, which were looking really good as their leaves had started to change colour.

All too soon after riding about 6.6 miles the Singletrack ended as the trail crossed Bunker Creek. From here we rode down the double track alongside bunker creek. The ride down is fast with humps in the trail which you can do small jumps off.
At around the 8 mile mark you have to ride uphill for about half a mile, before riding into Blue Spring Valley, the rest of the trail is then on a dirt road which can be ridden quite faster - the faster you go the harder it gets, which eventually connect onto UT 143 after about 11 miles.
Instead of just going down the road we crossed it , and then bushwhacked through trees and made a trail through the woods, before we cut down to Panguitch Lake. After rolling down to the lake we headed up to the general store at about 12:50 and waited for the shuttle to arrive to take us back to Brian Head which picked us up at about 1.30pm.

On this ride we did 511ft of climbing and had 3184ft of descent, the ride is quite short at 11.63 miles so we decided to set up a shuttle amongst ourselves to ride Dark Hollow as well.

Although quite a short ride it was well worth doing as the singletrack descents were great , and the views were really nice.

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Left Fork Video (Flash Player)

We dropped Johanna's SUV down at the end of the Dark Hollow trail off UT 143. Then loaded all the bikes into my SUV and drove up to the top of Brian Head again, with Rick all crammed up in the back of the SUV with the bikes.

It wasn't as windy at the top this time and we started riding again at 15:00, and was nice and warm, we rode along the Sydney Peaks trail like last time, but this time took the left turn down Dark Hollow Trail. The trial descends steeply down rocky switch backs at the start of the ride.
Johanna go a puncture heading down through one of the rocky sections after the initial steep down hill. While we were repairing this a group of riders passed us including Shelbster who I had ridden with once before in St George.
We continued down the trail across Alpine meadows and past Cub Lake. The trail then dropped down a dirt road, before dropping down steeply on singletrack through the trees.
The descent down was very steep and rocky in places, I was glad we had to stop to wait for Johanna to catch up a few times, as it was quite tiring bouncing down over all the rocks on the trail, 10 years back the trail had been much smoother if I remember rightly.
I really liked the sections of the trail as it went through tunnels of Aspen trees, which were carpeting the trail with golden leaves.
After about 3.8 miles we turned right onto the Paradise Spring trail and climbed up slightly in the Aspens
After switch backing down through the trees and some meadows we came to the Dark Hollow Creek Crossing


From the creek you climb up over a ridge and then drop down to Second Left hand canyon road.

The descent back down the road is very easy , and is quite fast on the upper sections where the gradient is steeper, towards the bottom it become slower. Eventually you cross the creek again, and we arrived back at the SUV at about 17:00 after riding about 11.4 miles.

The ride had about 156ft of climbing and 4495ft of descent, The singletrack sections of the trail had been great, It was shame about all the road riding at the end of the ride, which was a waste of elevation.

Rick then waited with our bikes while me and Johanna went to collect my car from the top of the Mountain. Johanna then said goodbye and the drove over towards thunder mountain which I had recommended as a good ride to do.

Having Johanna along on the rides had been fun, she was doing a road trip over several months in America she had started in California on her own - even sleeping in her SUV at night. Her Web log can be found here

Rick invited her to come and stay with Him and Cathy if she came back to the St George area, which she did in November. Unfortunately for Johnanna on her first ride with Rick she managed to slash open her leg on her chain ring, she then had to spend the next 2 weeks recovering at Rick's place. Here's some pictures of her wounds which look pretty gnarly !!!!. According to her blog it all healed ok though. Whilst very unlucky to have hurt herself so badly - she had been very lucky to do it while staying with Rick and Cathy as they are super nice people. And took care of her while she recovered.

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Dark Hollow Video (Flash Player)

Rick and I then drove back to St George, we stopped at church rocks for a quick ride just as the sun was setting at 19:30. Even at night though it was too hot to ride at about 96f a hot wind was blowing which felt like a hot hair drier. Rick was used to the heat and I struggled to keep up with him.

I didn't take many pictures as it was quite dark, and we were rushing to finish before the light went, as I only had a head torch with me and rick didn't have a light at all. So as it got dark he struggled to see where he was going. If I'd been able to see I think the ride would have been great as there were large rocks all around us on the ride, and Rick said there were good places to play around when you can see.

After a short ride we returned to the SUV. After packing up our gear we stopped off at the 5 guys burger bar - I had a double bacon cheese burger which was very tasty.

Click here for Day 17