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More Cowbell
Beginner "White Ledges Loop"

The More Cowbell trail creates one of the few beginner-level singletrack rides in the Hurricane area. So it deserves its own page. The More Cowbell trail is 2.5 miles in length, but you'll have to take JEM or Dead Ringer to get to it.

The trail is open year round, but lies on clay that can be damaged if ridden while wet. If there have been recent storms, check conditions with the local bike shop before going.

View to the east as the trail runs on flat terrain above the limestone ledge. Gooseberry Mesa forms a picturesque backdrop. Photos and ride review by Bruce on January 9, 2015.

More Cowbell makes a nice ride for kids and beginners. We'll call the combined ride the White Ledges Loop, because it runs atop white ledges of Virgin Limestone. This little lariat loop is 3.4 miles in length, with less than 100 vertical feet of climbing (all very gradual).

When deciding about young children, realize there are cliffs nearby plus a couple of short sections where the trail sits on side-slope. Also, please note that this trail is not suitable for Burley-style bike trailers. The trailbuilders want More Cowbell to remain narrow singletrack, and trailers mess that up. (The JEM Doubletrack going northeast along the mesa from the upper JEM trailhead is actually a nice ride and is recommended for trailers and side-by-side riding.)

Looking north from the entry road at the second parking lot. The trail entry is just to the right of the photo.

Start from parking at the Highway 59 JEM trailhead (see below). As you cross the ride-over cow-extruder, turn left (downhill) on the Dead Ringer singletrack trail.

Coast gently downhill as the singletrack meanders 0.4 miles north. At the trail fork, go to the right on More Cowbell for a counter-clockwise ride. You are now on the loop portion of White Ledges. The left fork will be your return path (and also connects to other riding options).

First trail fork. The trail to the right takes you on the counterclockwise loop. The left fork takes you to the clockwise entry, or down off the ledges to Goosebumps.

The right fork takes you along the top of the upper ledges. The yellow-white rock is the Virgin Limestone, a hard cliff-forming layer between the clays of the Lower Red Member and the Middle Red Member of the Moenkopi Formation.

As seen from the lower trail, a rider heads out on the counterclockwise route. The rock slabs are layers within the Virgin Limestone.

The Virgin Limestone formed when the tidal flats that formed the Moenkopi were submerged in a shallow sea for a few million years. This was during the early Triassic Period, about 240 million years ago.

Looking to the west. Below us is the return path of the loop. On the skyline are the Pine Valley Mountains, formed of granite under an ancient volcano. (Bet you can't wait to take your kids here and act like you're the world's biggest geology expert. Don't deny it. You know you want to.)

 

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

When the trail turns towards Gooseberry Mesa, note the bands of clay and mudstone within the Moenkopi Formation. The lower reds are the Middle Red Member. The gray is the Shnabkaib. The red band with the ledges is the Upper Red Member. At the top is the Shinarump Conglomerate, which begins the Chinle Formation.

The trail coasts east and slightly downhill towards the JEM intersection and the lower return path.

At the easternmost part of the loop, a trail fork joins More Cowbell to JEM, about 50 feet away to your right. Here JEM takes a plunge off the limestone down to the valley floor. To say on the easy stuff, keep to the left. 

On the flats to the west, the Moenkopi thins before the world drops away at the Kaibab Limestone of the cliffs above Hurricane. In the distance are the Navajo Sandstone Red Cliffs, with the Pine Valley Mountains above.

The trail now follows the lower ledges of the limestone. It stays close to the edge, but just far enough away that you don't need to worry about the kids. Although it's narrow singletrack, the brush has been cleared back to create a fairly wide riding lane so you can bobble without scratching yourself on the brush. (The broad clearance also helps the trail dry quickly during the winter.)

Looking back east, with the Navajo Sandstone spires of Zion National Park peeking around the edge of Gooseberry Mesa.

On the south side (if you care to), you can sneak up to the edge and look at the valley below. Highway 59 has descended to the lower level of the Moenkopi silt. Between the highway and the slope, you'll spot the new Dead Ringer trail that connects upper JEM to Goosebumps.

Alex pedals away from a viewpoint on the cliff edge. Here the Pine Valley Mountains are to the left, and the mesa at the entrance to Zion National Park is to the right in the photo.

As you come to a trail fork, keep straight ahead. You are leaving More Cowbell to start uphill on Dead Ringer. The route 150 degrees to your right takes you down Dead Ringer to the Goosebumps/JEM intersection. After about 200 yards, keep straight again as you pass your original trail fork. Head uphill to the JEM parking.

View down into the valley to the south. Want to go try the trail below you? The trail fork is coming up soon.

More advanced riders: As you reach the doubletrack at the top, go straight across onto JEM. Take JEM downhill, passing through the Goosebumps intersection. Just before Sheep Bridge Road, turn left on Dead Ringer and climb the back to the top. Do More Cowbell clockwise on your way up. Great riding!

On the connecting trail between the two ends of White Ledges.

Update, April 2015:
The upper portion of JEM (from the Highway 59 trailhead down to the Goosebumps intersection) is now one-way, downhill only. When climbing to the Highway 59 trailhead, you must use either Dead Ringer on the west or the JEM Doubletrack from the east.

Alex Argyle rings the cowbell as he rides by. Hitting the Cowbell is "a thing" for riders coming through the junction of Dead Ringer at More cowbell.

Riding summary, beginner More Cowbell:
0.0   Upper JEM TH, cross cattleguard
        Immediate left on ST downhill
        N37 08.358 W113 14.515
0.4   Keep R for counterclockwise loop
        N37 08.481 W113 14.632
1.3   Fork L (R = to JEM)
        N37 08.859 W113 14.692
2.9   Keep straight N37 08.411 W113 14.717
        (hard L = down to Goosebumps)
3.0   Keep straight N37 08.481 W113 14.632
3.4   Back at top
Getting there, upper JEM (59) trailhead:  
In Hurricane, turn south on US-59 (towards the Grand Canyon). Drive exactly 5 miles uphill. Turn left on cindered doubletrack right as you approach the base of Gooseberry Mesa. Drive another 0.3 miles to the parking area. N 37 08.329' W 113 14.527'
From the Highway 9 trailhead:
From I-15 north, take the La Verkin exit on UT-17. From the south, take the Hurricane exit on US-9 and go through Hurricane towards Zion National Park. At the junction of US-9 with UT-17, turn east towards Zion. 4.8 miles after the turnoff, turn right (south) on a gravel road signed "Sheep Bridge Rd." 0.5 miles later, you'll cross over the Virgin River. Just uphill is a cattleguard, then a doubletrack on your right 0.1 miles after the bridge. Take the doubletrack 0.2 miles to a turn-around overlooking the Virgin River. The singletrack is at the end of the turn-around. Pedal JEM to Hurricane Rim, then take Cryptobionic to Goosebumps. Cross JEM  to Dead Ringer and climb to the top of the cliff, where you'll find White Ledges.

NOTE:  Do not damage these trails by riding when wet. For current conditions, contact Over the Edge Sports, 76 E. 100 S. in Hurricane, 435-635-5455.

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
     White Ledges beginner loop 
     JEM area multi-track file  Map datum WGS 84
Connecting trails:
     Hurricane Cliffs Trail Summary page
     JEM trail page   Goosebumps/Cryptobionic page
     Hurricane Rim page   Goulds Rim page   Gould's Connector
     JEM DT     Dead Ringer 
Map for printing:  View
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to St. George area resources

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