Bearclaw Poppy Trail (historic Green Valley Trail)
The Bearclaw Poppy Trail lies southwest of St. George. It
joins Green Valley to the west side of Bloomington, curving scenically
around Bloomington Hill. There are trailheads at Green Valley and
Bloomington, 4.1 miles apart. The contour is downhill as you head from the
escarpment above Green Valley towards the Bloomington end. The trail is a
nice stand-alone ride, but you can also use this mountain bike trail as a piece of a much larger
ride including Stucki Springs.
The southern half of the trail (from the Stucki Springs
trail fork to Bloomington) is now one-way --
southeast downhill towards Bloomington. To ride south-to-north,
you'll need to use the northern half of the Bloomington
Microloop, which connects to Bearclaw just south of Clavicle Hill. See
the map link below for a printable area topo.
Gary and Brian Argyle stop to admire the scenery.
Original review by Bruce August 1, 1998.
Trail page last updated December 2015.
This trail is a
blast to ride. Highlights include a not-too-tough one-mile hill climb, a run down a desert wash, a series of short "scary but not too
hairy" drop-offs, and a roller coaster hard-pack. It's the
most popular trail in St. George.
Most riders do Bearclaw as an out-and-back, but using the Bloomington Trail
westbound from the Bloomington end. The northern side of the Bloomington
loop runs westbound parallel to the section of Bearclaw that's eastbound
View from the hill after you come up
past the Green Valley Spa. Follow the dirt road down, to the left, then
uphill to reach the parking for Bearclaw Poppy. Many bikers park right
here to begin their ride. See the Zen and Racetrack
pages. Photo December 2011. The bottom of the valley area will be seeing
subdivision construction starting in spring 2016.
You can ride this trail year-round. At an elevation of 2700 feet near
the Arizona border, this trail never sees snow. However, during wet weather
the clay can become saturated. Never ever
ride or hike this trail after rainstorms! You'll damage the trail. And
during the winter months, check with a local shop for current conditions.
The parking area is just to the right
of the metal gate and trail kiosk. Keep heading uphill.
Introduction to the
beginner Bloomington Bearclaw Poppy loop.
If the above video does not appear on your
browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking
The Bearclaw Poppy lies in a special preserve area. The
preserve protects the endangered Bearclaw Poppy. Absolutely DO NOT EVER
ride off-trail. And don't follow other riders' illegal "alternate
lines" -- stay
on the main path. If cyclists don't respect the preserve, we may find
ourselves locked out. Really.
Bearclaw Poppy. Seriously, don't be a
jerk. Stay on the trail, and don't ride when the ground is wet.
I'd rate the trail moderate aerobic and
intermediate technical overall. If you don't stop to play, it's very quick ride --
one you can easily hammer in the morning before work or golf. If you start
from the Bloomington end and turn around at Clavicle Hill -- which is my
recommendation for kids -- it's easy aerobic and easy-beginner technical.
Bria reaches the top of the hill, nearing the water tank. The
singletrack stepover gate will be to his left. Photo 2000.
From the Green Valley end, the trail starts with a modest one-mile
warm-up climb along the side of a sandstone
canyon. (That's if you ride to the trail from town. If you
drive to the new parking area, you'll have only a short jaunt uphill. The
step-over gate marks the border of the preserve, and the start of the
singletrack.) Hilltop GPS N 37° 05.162' W
Bruce's Superfly 100 leans against the
border of the preserve on December 8, 2011. Just downhill are the Three
Fingers of Death! Let the fun begin.
The trail descends into a roller-coaster
BMX course in red, white, and orange desert dirt. Right away, the
singletrack drops downhill over a couple of little ledges. Beginners,
remember to let the bike roll as you hit the scary stuff, then carefully
brake after you're back on smooth trail.
Gary descends from the bluff
towards the "Lion's Paw" or "Three Fingers of Death."
After the Three Fingers of Death,
the trail winds along the a wash (the dark streak at center right). Picture August 1, 1998
First the red stuff: the "Three Fingers of Death." Plunge down to
the valley floor. Of the options here, the left "finger" is easier. To
the right, the options get more scary. People get hurt here, so chose
wisely based on your ability.
hold to the right after the initial descent and find the singletrack "Flatline
Trail" that winds
around at a more leisurely pace. It will be on your right just before you reach
the Three Fingers, and crosses the path down the Fingers. (This singletrack will be your uphill route if
you're doing the ride as an out-and-back.)
Plan your route. Photo December 2011.
Next comes orange dirt:
"the wash." Rock and roll across the desert on the firm wash
bottom. Hit the sidewalls to add to the tech factor.
If you find wet dirt while in the wash, GO BACK. The clay that lies
ahead will not heal if you damage it by riding while it's wet.
Winter's view down the Wash, heading
From the wash, the trail rolls over some more orange dirt
before reaching the white clay of the "Acid Drops." You'll
notice a couple of side routes. Stay on the main trail. Keep heading straight south-southwest. The
first one on the left rejoins at the Acid Drops. The three routes heading
right (north) join to form the Stucki Springs cutoff route. A side route
on the right with multiple interconnectors and drops into a wash that
parallels the Acid Drops.
View from the top of the first Acid
The Acid Drops are pretty easy for intermediate riders. If
you're a beginner, well, here's the secret. Get off the bike seat. Put all
your weight on the pedals so your butt comes away from the seat. Let the
bike tip down, while your trunk stays balanced upright. If you MUST brake,
use only a tiny bit of rear brake. Ideally, just let the bike roll. After
you absorb the "wump" at the bottom with your flexed legs, sit
down and begin applying the brakes.
Looking north uphill from the bottom
of a three-drop series. To the right is a climbing route (or an easier
The last of the Acid Drops is the dreaded Clavicle Hill!
Yes, it's named after the body part that it breaks. (GPS N 37° 04.209' W
113° 39.299') Experts, go ahead and take some air off the rock ledge at the
Intermediates, pick the rock-free line and let it roll. Don't
over-brake, or you'll pitch over the handlebars.
Dominic rolls Clavicle Hill in 2000.
Beginners can descend the "climber" route around the hill. As you
approached Clavicle Hill, there was a trail on your left about 150 feet back
from the edge. (This is the path that most riders will take when riding
from the Bloomington end or when returning on an out-and-back. It IS
possible to ride straight up Clavicle Hill. But I've never succeeded at
Darren Harris heads up Clavicle
Hill in this January 2010 photo. The Acid Drop section offers some
challenges when ridden south-to-north.
As you come to the bottom of Clavicle Hill, turn left toward
the mountain and pick up the continuing Bearclaw Poppy Trail. (There's
another drop just below Clavicle Hill, also with a trail turning left to
Bearclaw at the bottom.) Straight ahead would take you to the Stucki
Springs trail and the Bloomington Microloop.
The trail will curve closely around the Moenkopi skirts of the mesa,
Bloomington Hill. If you find yourself away from the mesa in rolling
desert at this point, you probably missed your turn. (Note: some riders
become confused by the carsonite trail markers, which say "Bearclaw
Poppy" on the top, even if those markers are located on the Stucki
Springs or Bloomington Microloop trails. The whole area is the Bearclaw
Kristen leads cousin Savannah
westbound on Bearclaw Poppy in 1999.
Now it's on to the rolling white clay south of Bloomington Hill
-- known as the "Roller Coaster" or "BMX Course." From
here, the trail is one-way eastbound,
slightly downhill as it heads toward Bloomington. The trail rock 'n rolls through hard-packed desert dirt. Awesome! Keep on the main
trail at all times. Resist the temptation to "explore" --
whether on foot or bike -- because you're in the desert preserve. Go only
on MARKED alternates.
Authorized alternate routes are
designated with carsonite markers.
In the winter, the temperature is usually nice for a couple
of hours in the afternoon. I ride this trail in
shirt-sleeves in January. During the summer, it's best to go early in the morning. If you
start your ride by 7 a.m., you'll enjoy pleasant temperatures.
If you're riding with children, I suggest you
take them to the Bloomington trailhead. The combination of Bloomington and
the BMX section of Bearclaw is around 4 miles. They'll enjoy the tamer stretches of
white clay trail on the
Savannah (white helmet, Dominic's daughter) and Kristen (right, Bruce's daughter) enjoy the rolling clay trail on a warm
late-winter's day. March 5, 1999.
If video will not play in window above, click to launch in separate window through YouTube
The valley floor is shale of the Chinle formation of the late Triassic.
During that time (about 220 million years ago), this corner of Utah was covered
by shallow sea. The sea gave way to red mud-flat and flood deposits of the
Moenave formation. The bluffs are capped with lava flowing from volcanoes of the
late Cenozoic. The volcanoes in this area are an extension of the northern
Arizona volcanic field, and were very active around 8 million years ago.
Kristen (age 10) rides along the edge of a wash below the
cliffs of Bloomington Hill. March 1999 -- 16 years before the trail became
one-way in the other direction.
As the trail
reaches Bloomington, you can turn around for the out-and-back ride. Because
the eastern end of Bearclaw is one-way, your westbound trip will be on the
Bloomington Trail. This trail will deliver
you to a 4-way where you can turn north to Bearclaw.
Some riders still do the old loop ride, using six miles of city streets
back to the trail head. Be sure to catch the petroglyphs just past the end of
the trail in west Bloomington.
Brian poses in
front of ancient rock carvings. August 1, 1998
Riding notes, from Green Valley:
From end of pavement N37 05.516 W113 37.673
0.0 Go R 100 yards, turn L downhill
N37 05.568 W113 37.709
0.1 At bottom, veer L 100 yards,
then R to cross valley
0.3 Pass Zen trailhead, keep straight and climb
N37 05.433 W113 37.893
0.5 Parking From parking lot on hill:
0.0 Around gate, uphill on DT
N37 05.338 W113 38.432
0.4 Pass Barrell ST on L, veer R
Step over gate to Bearclaw ST
N37 05.173 W113 38.826
0.5 Flat area, descend Three Fingers of Death
N37 05.119 W113 38.856
0.6 Straight and drop into Wash
N37 05.051 W113 38.781
1.1 Keep straight (R = to Stucki cutoff)
N37 04.790 W113 39.054
1.3 Keep R (L = alternate, rejoins)
N37 04.598 W113 39.130
1.4 Keep straight (full R = to Stucki
N37 04.543 W113 39.175
(soft R = alternate line, rejoins vs
1.5-1.6 Various alternate lines, keep straight
(to Stucki cutoff at N37 04.369 W113 39.238)
1.7 Straight (R = to Stucki cutoff)
N37 04.290 W113 39.273
1.8 Clavicle Hill, straight off
N37 04.220 W113 39.297
1.8 Left at bottom, head southwest
N37 04.214 W113 39.291
Straight = to Stucki Springs or
R = to Snakepit Rim vs Stucki cutoff
1.85 Keep straight N37 04.208 W113 39.258
(L = back to top)
2.9 Alternate lines, select (R = easier)
N37 03.648 W113 38.392
3.3 Alternate lines N37 03.463 W113 38.058
3.5 Alternate lines N37 03.403 W113 37.898
3.9 Straight (B.Microloop joins on R)
N37 03.224 W113 37.507
4.0 Veer R to parking N37 03.204 W113 37.373
4.1 Stepover gate for Bloomington parking
N37 03.130 W113 37.355
Getting there, Green Valley: Take the
Bluff Street I-15 exit in St. George and turn west. Immediately turn south
(left) at the first light. Go over the hill and at the T intersection at
the bottom of the hill turn right. Head northwest about two miles on Dixie
Drive. Turn left at Canyon View Road, heading uphill toward the Green
Valley Spa. (If you reach a "Green Valley Market" with gas
pumps, you just passed it. Turn around and backtrack to the second road on
your right.) Drive past the spa onto dirt at the end of the road. Turn right
at the top of the mesa, then immediately left to drive down into the deep
valley. You can park here and
ride to the road that climbs the RIGHT side of the little sandstone
canyon. Or, you can stay in your car and turn right on dirt, then drop left
down into the valley 100 yards later. Follow the improved gravel road up
to the parking area about 3/4 mile later. Trailhead N 37° 05.509' W 113° 37.689'
Bloomington: Go to the west end of Navajo Drive in
Bloomington. Go across the cattle guard. See the low rail on the fence 100 feet to your
right? That's the trailhead, at N 37° 03.116' W 113° 37.362'. I recommend that youngsters go to the Bloomington end of the trail!