Southbound on the western side of the main loop. Photos and review by Bruce on February 25, 2021.
The St George Airport trail system lies just west of the airport. There's 8 miles of singletrack,
with trails ranging from easy to very difficult. The trails run in a general north-south direction
with many loop options. The average elevation is 2700 feet. Weather allowing, the trails can
be ridden year-round.
I don't recommend these trails to riders who are new to the area, unless you're going with
someone who already knows the area well. Trails are unmarked and the options can get confusing.
Just finding your way to the trails will be your first challenge. There's no developed trailhead.
You can pedal into the system from Banded Hills Road on the north end, or from
on the south. If you're exploring on your own, I highly suggest GPS navigation such as Trailforks.
Most riders will hit the more-difficult expert bits on the west edge of the bluff. You can use them as alternates to the west side of the main loop, or as little loops off the ride.
The main loop is mostly dirt. The southwestern side has some intermediate level up-and-down, but overall the trail is straight and easy.
I'll divide the system into three main options: an eastern 3-mile doubletrack that extends
all the way through the system (which a surprising number of riders use), the easier 3-mile
main singletrack loop in the center (with access singletrack at the north and south ends),
and the 4 expert ridgeline options that leave and reconnect on the western side, which can
be used as mini-loops or as alternates to the western side of the main loop. In general, the
further west the trail is, the harder it will be.
My suggestion is, once you find your way into the trail system, ride around the central loop
first. That will help you understand the area and you'll see where the expert routes leave
and reconnect. Then have fun exploring the western expert lines. I'll spend most of my explanation-time
here just telling you how to find the trails.
Looking toward the 0.7-mile double-black loop option that drops off the bluff then climbs back up to the main loop around the corner. I'd save this for last, or even skip it.
Looking north toward the Pine Valley Mountains on the easier eastern side of the main loop.
3 miles around. Reached from the north or south via singletrack connectors. Eastern side is
very easy. The western side has an easy northern half, and a southern half that I'd rate intermediate
because of some dip-and-climbs. In general, you can tell which way to turn at any trail forks
because the main loop just looks easier. There's a short-cut across the loop about 1/3 of the
way from the southern end.
There are 3 main expert lines on the western edge of the bluff, plus a double-black loop that
drops off the bluff. Some of these are obvious trail forks, while others are more subtle. I'll
let you figure it out.North rock: 0.6 miles, alternate to main singletrack connector on north end of loop. Northwest:
1 mile, bypasses northern half of west side of main loop. West rock: 0.6 miles off middle of
western side of loop: Dropoff: 0.7 miles with steep drop and grunt climb, techy.
View from the northwest expert option, just off the northern end of the main loop.
Rolling into a bumpy steep ramp on the northwest tech singletrack..
The far north strip of tech riding can be hard to find. On the north, it can be picked up from
the pavement, about 50 feet west of the dirt road. Or catch it at the apex of the little valley
about 1/10th mile from the road. From the south, it's a singletrack consisting of a steep series
of steps heading uphill, just a few feet east of the entry into the northwest tech singletrack
from the northeast corner of the main (easy) loop. The more broad smoother (but still steep)
trail east of it connects up to the main access trail.
On the northwest singletrack there's another spot that deserves mention. You'll get lost briefly
when heading south, because the continuing trail isn't obvious. Shortly after you begin the
rim westbound, the trail will turn 120 degrees left and drop southwest steeply down a chute
to a sage brush meadow. But you won't see this, and you'll continue northwest for another 100
yards until you get lost in a bunch of dead-end viewpoints. Just backtrack and you'll find
the continuing trail. The wrong way trail is much more ridden, of course, because everybody
misses the turn and has to ride back looking for it.
Looking down the steep bumpy chute to the continuing trail at the spot where everybody gets lost.
Getting to the main loop, details!
Seeing the airport on the northern singletrack connector.
This is the easiest way to locate the trails. From the Southern Parkway (Highway 7), take River
Road northbound to 4150 South and turn right eastbound. After 1.3 miles (at the base of the
bluff) the road will veer left twice to become Little Valley Road heading straight north. Turn
right on Auburn Drive after 1/4 mile, then right again after another 1/4 mile onto 2820 East.
As 2820 East climbs the bluff, it will become Banded Hills Road. Just after cresting the hill,
look for a dirt road on your right. That's your target. Find a spot to park. Many riders drive
100 yards further east to the road stub (where a future road will be built) and park there,
as shown on my map and GPS track. (Note that this area will change with future construction!)
On your bike, pedal away from the paved road on the dirt road southbound. You must immediately
commit to one of three ride options:1. Doubletrack. Easiest. You'll have a couple of chances to sneak over to singletrack as you
go south. Many riders make the jump at mile 0.5,where a crossing doubletrack heads uphill and
intersects the singletrack about 200 feet later. You can also continue south on the DT to reach
the southern end of the main loop where the singletrack connector crosses at a fenceline at
mile 1.8 of the doubletrack.
Rolling down toward the main loop southbound on the connector.
2. Access singletrack. Just 200 feet after the dirt road leaves pavement, a cindered road goes
uphill to the right. Turn onto it, then in 50 feet turn left onto the singletrack. After 1/2
mile, keep left after you cross the fenceline and navigate a slightly techy turn downhill.
(The right-hand option drops down a steep loose slope to rejoin.) When you reach the trail
fork, go left for the easier side of the main loop. If you go right, there's another fork in
50 feet. Here a right takes you to the expert line and a left turn is easy riding on the west
side of the main loop (but with some steeper climbs and descents coming later).
3. Expert ridge. On the singletrack as above, go 1/10th mile then watch for a line heading
right (west) uphill. It was not well-marked on the day of my ride. This route involves a bit
of technical rock, dropping down to the main loop after 0.6 miles. As you reach the loop, make
a right turn then immediately fork right again and you'll be on the next bit of expert trail.
View looking southwest as the trail meanders near the edge of the bluff.
Looking south toward the motocross track area.
This option lets you hit the
trail system first. But finding
the Airport Trails from here involves a bit of navigation. Start from the
main Desert Canyons parking area north of the Southern Parkway on the
Desert Canyons Parkway. You'll need to find your way to a spot at the base
of the bluff 3/4 mile northwest of the parking lot. You have two options
to get there:
1. Motocross track road. As you head west on the
Connector, there's a singletrack crossing the wash on your right after 1/10th mile. Take it
uphill then veer left and approach the cement barriers. Cross to the road and go a tiny bit
left downhill before turning right onto the gravel motocross track access road. Pedal 1/2 mile
west, and as you see the gates of the track, look a route over to the bluff on your right (singletrack
or doubletrack). If you aren't following my track file, I'd suggest going further west to the
wide area right in front of the gates, then taking the doubletrack across the wash. Then just
follow the doubletrack uphill until it intersects the singletrack access trail at the fence
after 0.9 miles from the motocross track. If you head west (a left turn) on that singletrack,
you'll reach the south end of the main singletrack loop in 1/4 mile. Here a right turn takes
you on the easier eastern side of the loop.
Typical trail view on the southwest side of the loop (southbound).
Bouncing over a bit of rock.
2. Wash at Pushing Tin. Just off the east side of the
loop, find the side trail that drops into the wash northbound. Follow the wash north to the
fence and get onto the motocross track road. Turn left on the road and as you reach the wide
area in front of the motocross park, veer right on the doubletrack as above. Note that as the
doubletrack reaches the base of the bluff and veers left, you can keep straight uphill to find
a singletrack climbing steeply along the fence. This singletrack (after an initial steep and
loose grunt) will take you to the southern end of the main loop.
Southbound on I-15, take Exit 2 for the Southern Parkway (Highway 7). Keep left on the exit
off-ramp. Drive around 6 miles to the Desert Canyons Parkway exit. Turn on Desert Canyons Parkway,
pass under the Southern Parkway and drive 1/10th mile north to a trailhead on your right. On
your bike, find your way northwest as above.From I-15 on the Southern Parkway (Highway 7), turn north on River Road. Next turn right on
4150 South. This will veer left to become Little Valley Road northbound. Turn right on Auburn
Drive, then right again on 2820 East. This will become Banded Hills Road. Just after cresting
the hill, look for a dirt road on your right. You can park here, or go to the road stub (where
a future road will be built) 100 yards further and park there. On your bike, backtrack to the
dirt road southbound. (Note that this area will change with future construction!) 200 feet
after the dirt road leaves pavement, find the singletrack to your right on the uphill side.
Bathroom: port-a-potty at the Desert Canyons main trailhead. Water: none Camping: none