||Big Hole Loop
Three Peaks Trail System
The Big Hole Loop lies on the northern end of the Three Peaks Trail System.
It's an intermediate ride that offers a lot of views. It's significantly
less technical than the main Three Peaks Loop.
The ride I describe below is 7 miles with 500 vertical feet of climbing.
It should be within the abilities of a solidly experienced intermediate
On a ride in 2004, Kristen and Alex look towards
Cedar City from the ridgeline on the Big Hole Loop. Original review June 11,
2003. GPS tracks and topo map updated 2016 by Bruce.
Some new photos in 2016.
|The trail system is located about 6 miles west of Enoch
(just northwest of Cedar City), about 10 minutes by car from I-15.
Altitude is 5800 feet. The Big Hole Loop reaches the highest elevations in
the trail system at 6150 feet. The riding season is March through
This is the new mountain bike
trailhead (photo 2015). There's a bathroom (just outside the picture to
the left of my car), water, picnic table, and map kiosk. Around the corner are group camping, picnic
and camp spots, a playground, and group pavilion.
|| You can get to the Big Hole Loop via six different
connecting trails. The longest route is around the Three
Peaks Loop clockwise. The shortest is Practice Loop to Lost World.
(See the main Three Peaks page for individual
trail descriptions and the topo
map for alignments.)
between the trailhead and Big Hole have some man-made structures and some
A/B lines that let you select your degree of difficulty. You can always
bypass the tough stuff.
|The counter-clockwise direction is easiest to navigate for
first-timers. So that's the way most riders go. From the Practice Loop
going counter-clockwise, jump onto Outer Limits then fork right (north)
onto Orange Forks. When you hit the loop, turn right again to continue
north. (If you finish the entire loop, you'll arrive back at this point.)
northwest as we come follow the shoulder of the mountain just above the
The back (north) side of the loop has sage alternating with
juniper, with occasional outcrops of limestone. (You're north of the
junction between the igneous intrusion and the sedimentary rock.) The
riding here is fairly straight-forward, and compared to other area trails,
you can cover distance fairly quickly.
east towards Enoch and Cedar City.
|The Big Hole is not a fishing hole or steep-walled canyon
nook. It is literally a big hole. The trail will skirt the quarry on the
northeast corner of the loop. There are a couple of other small inactive
mines in the area.
igneous rock, as it invades other rock deep below ground, brings with it
superheated water containing dissolved minerals. The minerals replace ions
in the limestone. Thus, "Iron County."
Riding the edge of the hole. It is a
Here's your construction material.
Did you pay attention in zoology?
Yeah, it's generally animal-shaped.
But only the hooves are in the right spot.
The terrain will alternate between dirt and rocky outcrops. Much of the
rock here is limestone, gray when unaffected by minerals from the igneous
rock and yellow-orange when infused with iron deposits.
Sage slopes are studded with juniper and the occasional pinion pine.
You can find bits of shade for your lunch break, but afternoons in summer
can be pretty hot here.
Cruising on the northwest side of the
loop, gaining altitude.
|There will be about 800 vertical feet of climbing on the Big
Hole loop ride. There's a gradual slope to reach the loop, then a moderate
steady climb to get up and over the ridgeline when you hit the northwest
Looking south. We'll be
climbing up and over the ridge to reach the southern side of Big Hole.
||The riding isn't particularly technical. You can take
well-conditioned experienced beginners on this ride. There are a couple of
spots that the more nervous beginner will want to step over. Be sure to
allow a couple of hours for the 7 miles.
Final push to get up and across the
|After you've done your loop, I recommend hitting the trails
that lie between Big Hole and the campground. Race Loop, Shortcut
(Sunnyside), Lost World, and Orange Fork connect into the southern side of
the Big Hole Loop. After descending, use Sweet Pea and/or Outlaw to
connect over to another trail that will take you back up to Big Hole. Stay
and play. It's worthwhile.
Rocking down the Race Course in a
section that's combined with the southern side of the Big Hole Loop.
|Riding notes, Big Hole Loop:
0.0 Left through fence then keep R
N37 46.017 W113 10.090
0.2 Fork L (straight = Practice Loop)
N37 46.145 W113 10.147
0.4 Keep L and West past pavilion
N37 46.173 W113 10.242
0.5 Keep straight (join Race Loop)
N37 46.181 W113 10.310
1.0 R off DT onto ST Race Loop
N37 46.267 W113 10.674
1.1 Keep L (R = Outlaw)
N37 46.333 W113 10.765
1.6 Fork L (R = Short Cut)
N37 46.646 W113 11.030
1.9 Keep straight (L = Three Peaks)
N37 46.541 W113 11.247
2.0 Fork L on Earl's
N37 46.627 W113 11.312
2.3 Rejoin Race Course, L uphill
N37 46.807 W113 11.246
2.8 L on Big Hole
N37 47.061 W113 10.950
3.5 Fork R (L = Three Peaks)
N37 46.971 W113 11.441
5.3 Keep R (L = Orange Fork)
N37 46.955 W113 10.118
5.6 Fork L on Lost World
N37 46.901 W113 10.350
5.9 Keep R (L = Orange Fork)
N37 46.702 W113 10.258
6.1 Keep L (R = Sweet Pea)
N37 46.576 W113 10.359
6.3 L on Practice Loop
N37 46.510 W113 10.215
7.2 Back at trailhead
|Getting there: Just north of Cedar City, take the Enoch/Minersville I-15 exit #62. Go north on U-130 (towards Minersville) 2.6 miles, then turn left on Midvalley Road. Drive 6 miles straight west.
Pass the "welcome area" which is the first turnout. Now watch
for the sign indicating the Mountain Bike Trailhead. Turn right on a gravel road
into the trailhead. The ride starts behind the kiosk and the picnic table.
An alternate is to continue past the mountain bike parking and take the
next right toward the picnic and camping area (with flag poles and Three
Peaks sign). At the fork in the road, turn right to the picnic pavilion, GPS N 37 46.172' W 113
10.259'. Camp spots are to your north. To your west is the ATV and tech
play area. Once you're riding, you'll need to head north to find the bike trails at a break in
Note: Click on this topo
map link for specific trail names and accurate alignments.
Camping: On site, option group or individual
sites, option developed vs primitive
Water: Trailhead, pavilion, and campground
Bathrooms: Trailhead, campground, picnic area, pavilion
Bike services: Cedar Cycle in Cedar City