Seven miles of singletrack mountain bike trail opened for riding in June 2015
at Goblin Valley State Park. The Wild Horse trail system sits on a small
mesa west of (and above) the campground, with Wild Horse Butte looming
above the trails to the north. No, you won't be riding among the hoodoos
for which Goblin Valley is famous, which are better enjoyed at a strolling
View on the edge of the mesa,
looking northeast from the Dark Side of the Moon. The red columns are the
same rock as the goblins -- the Entrada Formation. Photos and trail review
by Bruce on July 11, 2015. Updated May
The trails form interconnected loops, so you can ride as
much or as little as you want. To hit every single piece of trail, your
minimum ride would be 8.7 miles with 800 vertical feet of climbing. Each
trail fork has a trail map on a post. If you've been paying any attention
at all, you shouldn't get lost.
We're approaching the Henry Mountains
overlook on the Buffalo Head trail. Those are the Henrys in the distance,
looking southwest. Note the red rocks along the trail -- agate and jasper.
While there are long stretches of flat smooth easy trail,
there's also a lot dipping through washes. If you're taking true beginners
or young children, expect that they'll likely dismount to hike through
these spots. Overall, I'm rating the trail system as requiring
early-intermediate skills. The hardest riding is on the north/west end of
Lizard Foot, which I'd rate upper-intermediate.
Looking back to the northeast, the
Wild Horse Butte is a landmark visible from almost all of the trail
system. The gray slopes are the Curtis Formation.
Of the five loops in the system, only one
(Buffalo Head) offers two-way traffic. The rest have a designated
direction. That's because the one-way trails have sections of narrow trail
on steep side-slope where passing would be difficult.
one-way trails, unfortunately, will complicate your riding plan a little
bit. But there are "you are here" trail maps at most
intersections, with one-way "do not enter" signs on the exits
from the one-ways. You'll figure it out.
Rolling out to the system on Lizard Foot.
The swoops, dips, and turns will
make Wild Horse a joy to ride. High-speed desert cruising mixed
with dips and turns. With great views all around.
The trails are hard packed, but
there will be occasional spots of softer clay. Expect a bit of loose dirt
here and there. Clay trails will rut when ridden wet. And the goop will
stick to your bike like glue. Don't ride after rainstorms!
At the trail fork between Landslide
and Desert View, looking west toward the cliffs of Summerville Formation
mudstone. At this spot, you can fork left for Landslide, or right to go
counterclockwise on Desert View. But you shouldn't go straight west, as
Desert View is one-way.
In many areas, the
trailside is paved with agate and jasper.
will be geodes as well as chips and slabs.
Here's a slab, about 8
inches long, that's studded with pearls
of red rock. Fun stuff. Leave it where you found it.
The first loop option is Buffalo Head, which you'll
encounter after you pedal Lizard Foot 0.4 miles from the parking area.
(Lizard Foot becomes a "do not enter" one-way trail at this
point, so you must fork onto Buffalo Head.
At the next trail fork you can either fork right to head for the other
three loops, or fork left for the full Buffalo Head loop. At the south end
is a viewpoint on gray ledges of the Curtis Formation where you can see the
Henry Mountains to the southwest.
Turning around at the end of the Henry Mountains
viewpoint on the Buffalo Head trail.
As the Buffalo Head trail ends on the Landslide trail, you
must keep right to head back to the center of the trail complex. Once
you're there, you can take the one-way Landslide loop counterclockwise.
(You'll repeat the short common section you rode when completing the
Buffalo Head loop.) Landslide gets into the red dirt at the bottom of the
Summerville Formation as it loops around a knoll and returns to the center
of the riding area.
Southbound on the Landslide trail.
As you return to the central area, your next option is the
Desert View trail. This is your one-way route to Lizard Foot or to Dark Side of
the Moon on the northwest corner. For our narrative here, we'll assume
you'll first ride the Desert View and Dark Side of the moon combo, then
hit Lizard Foot on your way out.
Desert View hits the eastern and northern sides of the mesa, skirting the southern edge of Wild Horse Butte.
The first viewpoint you'll hit is the Desert View
overlook. Here you're looking into the campground and picnic areas, with
the pavilion and parking for the hoodoos on the ridgeline to the
The lie of the land from the Desert
Next is the Wild Horse Butte
overlook, where you can again admire the sandstone escarpments of the San
Rafael, occupying the skyline to the north as far as the eye can see. Wild Horse Butte looms above
you to the west of the viewpoint. This is the
Summerville Formation, with a caprock of (I presume) Salt Wash sandstone.
At the base of Wild Horse Butte, there
are views above as well as views below from the overlook.
Dark Side of the Moon
Desert View heads west to a trail fork, where a left turn to stay on
Desert View takes you back to the center of the riding area. A right turn
continues along the edge of the cliffs on Dark Side of the Moon.
The Dark Side of the Moon trail follows the cliff line west for some
fabulous views. At the northwestern corner of
the mesa is the San Rafael viewpoint. Take a minute to admire the sharktooth southern
edge of the San Rafael Swell. Tiptoe toward the edge and look at the spires in
the cliffs of Entrada Formation below you.
View east as Dark Side of the Moon
runs near the cliffs. Wild Horse Butte is the on the right.
As you complete Dark Side of the Moon riding counterclockwise, you'll
speed back to the center of the trail system. This is a high-speed
whooping ride slightly downhill. To your right are banded Summerville Formation cliffs.
As Dark Side of the Moon joins Desert View, you'll continue
back to the central 4-way.
Making the final turn away from the cliffs on Dark
Side of the Moon.
Now you're ready for the final loop, Lizard Foot.
Head north on Desert View again, but this time fork
hard right onto Lizard Foot. The next mile is some
of the most fun riding, with lots of turns and dips, mostly high-speed and
Rockin' along on Lizard Foot. Back in
the gray stuff, with a coating of red jasper.
On Lizard Foot, you'll make a turn at the cliff-top
viewpoint above Molly's Castle. Awesome gawking, but be careful here.
Lizard Foot will take you back to parking. Or, you can
fork off onto Buffalo Head to do it again. Or to hit the pieces you missed
on your first go-round.
View into the approach to Molly's
Castle from the overlook.
Very nicely designed trail system. The riding and terrain here is unique.
You won't find another trail system like this in Utah. And Goblin Valley is one of those
places you absolutely must visit sooner or later. The bike trails give you
another reason to go there, plus an excuse to stay longer.
More Lizard Foot as we head back.
And while you're there...
You can't go to Goblin Valley without visiting the goblins.
Neither could I.
The goblins are at the end of the paved road (left at the T as you were
entering, right as you hit pavement from the bike parking area). There's a
large shaded picnic pavilion, plenty of parking, and a bathroom.
Looking southeast from the Goblin
parking area. We're probably on the same spot where I spent a rainy
childhood night in a leaky tent, back before there were paved roads or a
The hikes down into the valley start here. Descend on any of
the trails, then just wander around. The goblins change with every new
angle. It's been one of my favorite places since childhood.
The goblins are made of Entrada
sandstone and mudstone. The white cliffs east of the valley are Curtis
Formation, but a bit harder than what we were riding on a little to the
You can go where you want, except for climbing on the
hoodoos themselves. Imagine a 1000-pound rock on your splattered chest,
with the State Parks Department asking your next of kin to pay the
substantial fine. Don't climb on the goblins.
All five loops, the
If the above video does not appear on your
browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking
Note! Four of the five trails are now
one-way! So this ride description is now out-dated. See the map.
Quick ride, outer loop track ("just
0.0 Dirt road from parking
N38 34.179 W110 42.705
0.05 Left as DT splits
0.1 L onto ST (Lizard Foot)
N38 34.188 W110 42.786
0.4 L on Buffalo Head
N38 34.192 W110 42.993
0.6 L (still Buffalo Head)
N38 34.155 W110 43.138
1.4 Henry Mountain overlook
1.8 L on Landslide
N38 33.957 W110 43.166
3.0 L on Desert View
N38 34.230 W110 43.302
3.2 L on Dark Side of the Moon
N38 34.240 W110 43.457
3.7 San Rafael Swell overlook
4.1 L on Desert View
N38 34.482 W110 43.393
4.6 Wild Horse Butte overlook
4.8 Desert View overlook
5.1 L on Lizard Foot
N38 34.329 W110 43.238
5.7 Molly's Castle overlook
6.0 L to stay on Lizard Foot
N38 34.192 W110 42.992
6.4 Back at parking
On Interstate 70 just west of Green River, drive 8 miles west from the
US-6 junction. Turn south on Highway 24 and go 24 miles. Turn right on
Temple Mountain Road. Drive 5 miles west, then turn left on Goblin Valley
Road and drive 7 miles to Goblin Valley State Park. Pay at the entry
station (2018 fee $15 per car).
At the T in the paved road, go straight across to the narrow dirt road.
Climb the hill and drive 0.2 miles then turn right into the parking area.
Start the ride by pedaling back to the road and continuing west. At the
fork in the road, go either direction. The singletrack entry is found at
the far west end of the loop in the road.
Bathrooms: Campground, Goblin overlook, visitor's
Water: Campground, visitor's center
Camping: Goblin Valley Campground (additional fee)