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Turnpike Trail

The Turnpike Trail is a 4.4-mile trail along the hillside south of Cedar City at 6000 feet elevation. It's early-intermediate or strong-beginner in technical requirement. The climbing is mild and broken up by gentle descents. The trail can be done as an out-and-back -- 8.8 miles round trip -- or as part of a 10-mile upper-intermediate loop using Lava Link (see below). If you're pressed for time, there's an option to return quickly by road. 

Bruce pedals through the junipers. Photos, video, and trail review July 23, 2019.

On the north end, Turnpike begins at the Southview trailhead. There's a bathroom with running water, a bike repair stand, a privacy-screen for changing clothes, and ample parking. On the paved Southview trail, go 100 yards until you cross the bridge. Now turn to the right at the first singletrack after you cross the bridge.

On the south end, Turnpike has a trailhead on the gravel Shurtz Canyon Road. This trailhead has a bathroom and large fenced parking area. In summer 2021, a BLM campground is under construction at the trailhead. The trail begins eastbound at the break in the east side of the fence.

Heading out on the paved Southview trail. Turnpike is about 50 feet past the bridge.

The Turnpike trail contours the hillside just a bit above the valley floor. It's essentially a long traverse on the shoulder of the hill. There will be a occasional turns here and there as the trail gains or loses elevation. The total overall climbing for the 4.4 miles is a bit under 400 vertical feet (each way).

Typical trail terrain. Dry slope with exposed boulders and low junipers.

There will be three of these gentle climbs, each one followed by a descent. In either direction, the first climb is the longest one. If you're getting tired, remember that the return trip will also involve three climbs. There are no bail-out options once you're on the trail. But once you do reach the opposite trailhead, a road return is super-quick and easy.

Handlebar view southbound on the trail.

The terrain is mostly juniper, with the occasional pinion pine. There's a stretch of sage brush around the middle of the trail. For most of the trail, the spots between the junipers are occupied with rock and dirt. 

The southern half of the trail is more interesting, both visually and riding-wise. You'll finally have some nice views of the valley and some pretty cliffs to the east.

Drone view looking north as we pedal away from the trailhead.

The trail spans the distance between the Southview and Shurtz Canyon trailheads, but doesn't go anywhere else at this time. Once you get onto Turnpike, there are no off-ramps or connecting trails until you reach the opposite trailhead. (In the future, there will be more trails in the area.)

There are a few rocks and bumpy areas, but for the most part, the trail is easily done by an experienced beginner.

Near the southern end of Turnpike, two trails connect on the uphill side. At mile 3.4 from Southview -- 0.9 miles from Shurtz Canyon -- the Elevate trail forks away. This is a two-way trail. At 0.5 miles from Shurtz Canyon the downhill-only Black Ops trail joins.

Breaking out of the trees into a brush area. The trail will end where the junipers meet the broad valley ahead.

Summer mornings are usually cool in Cedar City, but the afternoons get very hot. The trees on Turnpike provide almost zero shade. Even though the Turnpike trail isn't a lot of work, the length of a full out-and-back ride can be a problem for beginning riders during the afternoon heat. Time your ride intelligently.

Looking to the east on the southern end of the trail.

A very nice loop ride for strong intermediate or expert riders uses Lava Link as a traversing trail on the upper mountain. This loop works best in the clockwise direction. Start at either trailhead. Turnpike will be the bottom half of the loop, going northbound. At Southview, climb Lichen It and take the first half-mile on Lava Flow. Veer uphill and a bit left onto Lava Link at the four-way. At the south end of Lava Link, descend Black Ops back to Turnpike! This loop is 11.2 miles when done from the Shurtz Canyon trailhead.

Shurtz Canyon trailhead at the southern end of the trail.

Bottom Line:

Not a high-voltage trail but a pleasant way to get a decent amount of trail miles without working too hard. Quite easy to ride, both technically and aerobically. Beginners will enjoy this ride. Experts can hammer this trail 45 minutes each way, so they'll want to combine Turnpike with other trails in the Iron Hills area.

 A cruise on Turnpike...

 If the above video does not appear on your browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking here.

Getting there:
Southview Trailhead. At the southern I-15 Cedar City exit (Exit 57 to Cross Hollow Road and Highway 130), turn east onto Highway 130. Immediately turn right (south) from 130 onto Old Highway 91. Drive 0.3 miles. Watch for the sign for Southview Trailhead and turn left on Shurtz Canyon Drive. Now stay on Shurtz Canyon Drive to the trailhead and find a spot to park. Start out on the paved Southview trail. After the bridge, go past the Turnpike trail and the one-way return trails from Lava Flow and Iron Giant. Turn right onto Lichen It at N37 38.699 W113 04.894.
Shurtz Canyon Trailhead. Exit I-15 and head south on Old Highway 91 as above. At 2.4 miles, turn left on Tipple Road. After 0.6 miles, turn left on Shurtz Canyon Road (mislabeled "Shirts" on the road sign). Go 0.7 miles and turn left into the trailhead. The trail is on the east side of the parking area.

Bathrooms:  Southview and Shurtz trailheads
Repair stand at Southview trailhead
Water:  Southview only, at sink in bathroom
Camping:  None yet. There is a BLM campground under construction at Shurtz Canyon, right at the bottom of the Turnpike trail (recommend Three Peaks for now)

GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
     GPX of loop ride   Multi-track area file
Topo map for printing:    View high-res topo of Lichen It area
Lodging, camping, shops:     Links to Cedar City area resources

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