Looking west on the western DH trail in Clear Creek. Photos and mapping by Bruce on May 25, 2023.
Clear Creek (Middle Applecross) MTB Trail System
The Applecross MTB system lies along North Fork Road, reached on Highway 9 just one mile east
of Zion National Park. When complete, there will be around 35 miles of singletrack trail in
the system. This page discusses the trails in Clear Creek Canyon. Trails range from easy to
difficult. At 6400 feet elevation, the expected riding season will be late May through October.
the trail crew has told me they're OK with riders on these trails, the
system isn't officially open. Trailhead and bathroom remains to be
completed. In the Clear Creek area, trail signs still need to be
installed. In the upper system, the crew is still digging DH trails. (Most
trails in the upper complex have names and trail signs installed.) If you
come here, tread lightly and stay away from unfinished trails.
In May 2023, trail markers are not installed. You'll need to know where you're going and have
a good nose for sniffing out the right paths.
The Clear Creek trails are linked to the North Fork Road and the
upper Applecross trails
via a singletrack connector, and
lower Applecross system
via the Canyon
Connection trail. See those trail pages for further riding options.
Looking northeast from the Canyon Connection trail while descending into Clear Creek from the lower trailhead.
Manzanita and pinion line the lariat loop on the northern side of the canyon.
This part of the Applecross system includes Canyon Connection (which arrives from the lower
Applecross trails then descends the southern side of the Clear Creek Canyon), a one-way climbing
trail from Clear Creek up to the top, a lariat loop on the northern edge of the canyon, a tech
traversing trail, and two DH trails.
Lower Applecross trailhead, looking north.
This trailhead is located on North Fork Road, just one mile outside the eastern border of Zion
National Park off Highway 9. From inside Zion, drive uphill and out of the eastern gate, then
a mile later turn left onto the North Fork (Zion Ponderosa) road. If you're coming from US-89,
turn westbound at the Carmel Junction onto Highway 9. Drive 11 miles then turn right on the
North Fork road.About 0.2 miles after turning onto the North Fork road, there's a fenced parking strip on your
Pedal through the opening in the fence, then turn left onto the Little Dipper trail. Ride Little
Dipper around the hill, then up the Waterpocket Creek canyon to the upper end of the
It will be 1.1 miles to a 4-way trail intersection. Turn to the left on Canyon Connection,
and it will take you to Clear Creek.
Four-way trail intersection. Far left is Bison Escape. Behind us is the connector to Clear Creek Ranch. Ahead left is Little Dipper, and ahead right is Canyon Connection.
Roadside parking just downhill from the upper Applecross system.
Roadside upper parking
This parking area is just below the
upper Applecross system
miles above the connector singletrack to the top of the Clear Creek
trails. Drive 3.2 miles uphill from Highway 9
on North Fork Road. Turn left into a large gravel parking area. From this parking area,
coast 0.5 miles downhill and spot a singletrack that crosses the road. (If
you see a dirt road on your right, you went 100 feet past it.) Turn to the right
and the singletrack will take you to the main loop. (The entry to the
upper Applecross system is through a squeeze chute in a log fence, 100 yards
up the road from the parking area at the apex of the turn.)
The connector trail for ranch patrons enters the juniper forest.
Ranch Access Trail
Across the North Fork Road from the ranch main entry is a gate into a meadow. Turn right after
you go through the gate and follow the path west into the junipers. In 0.2 miles, you'll come
to a 4-way trail fork. Keep right for the Canyon Connection trail. (The other trails are Bison
Escape and Little Dipper.) This will take you to Clear Creek.
Upper connecting trail (not an official name)
The trail winds through juniper and pinion.
This trail connects the upper Applecross system to the Clear Creek trails, crossing North Fork
Road on the way. It's 0.7 miles long, but has only 100 yards on the downhill side between the
Clear Creek trails and the North Fork Road.
When coming from the bottom of the Clear Creek
Canyon, the connecting trail starts
at the top of the climbing trail (see below). Turn right onto the
connecting trail if you're headed for the
. In 100
yards, it will cross the North Fork Road. From here it will climb gently
for 0.6 miles to join the Elliptical loop of the upper system.
trail fork at the top of the climbing trail, keep straight
if your target is a DH ride in Clear Creek Canyon or the loop on the
When riding the connecting trail from uphill (whether from the upper trail system or from the
North Fork Road) it's 100 yards from the road to a trail fork, where you MUST go right. (The
left trail is the one-way climbing trail from the bottom of the canyon.) Just a bit further
down the trail is a fork with three trail choices (L to R: DH, tech traversing, mesa loop).
Looking from the connecting trail to the loop fork. On the left is the climbing trail (one-way, do not enter). To the right, the trail goes 50 yards to a three-way split where you can select your adventure.
Left to right: DH, tech traversing, lariat loop.
At this three-way fork, the left-most trail is a DH trail that drops to the bottom of the canyon.
The trail in the middle is a tech traversing trail that follows the edge of the canyon, then
drops down a more-difficult DH trail. The trail to the right is the entry to the lariat loop
ride of the canyon edge. (See below for details on these trails.)
Rolling around the head of Waterpocket Creek, just below the North Fork Road, shortly after leaving Little Dipper.
The Canyon Connection trail is 1.8 miles long, extending from the top of Little Dipper to Clear
Creek in the bottom of the canyon.From Little Dipper, the trail rolls through a rough area as it descends to Waterpocket Creek
then climbs up the other side. Keep straight and right at the trail fork with the Ridge Runner
trail (if you even see it; it's pretty sketchy).
The trail will now gradually climb as it heads west through meadows and groves of pinion and
We've arrived at the canyon edge. The trail on the opposite hillside is the continuation of Canyon Connection dropping down to the creek.
The trail arrives at the edge of Clear Creek Canyon and veers left along the canyon edge. Then
it drops down the hillside through a series of switchbacks.
The trail is a machined bench-cut. There's a bit of up-and-down riding between the switchback
The trail bobs up and down as it clings to the steep side-slope.
Typical turn. We're looking west into Zion National Park.
The turns are engineered for bicycles. The turning radius is quite generous, considering the
steepness of the hillside.
As you descend, enjoy the frequent views into Zion National Park to the west and Clear Creek
Mountain to the northeast. On this north-facing slope, the pinion are larger. There will be
an occasional fir, with an understory of manzanita and gooseberry.
Things are looking much greener on the lower elevations in Clear Creek Canyon.
Looking north as the Canyon Connection trail arrives at the climbing trail.
At the bottom of the canyon, the trail turns east to run uphill along Clear Creek. Ignore the
first bridge across the creek. That bridge is one-way for riders coming downhill and crossing
over to the Canyon Connection trail. The second bridge will take you to the climbing trail,
where you'll go up to the top of Clear Creek Canyon.
Upper (mesa) loop (not an official name)
The trail is a broad bench-cut on a flat area above the edge of the canyon.
At the three-way split on the connecting trail (see the trail description above), take the
right fork to enter the stem of the lariat loop. In 200 feet, the trail will split into a loop.
I rode it counterclockwise by forking to the right.
The loop is 1.7 miles long, with very little elevation change. The trail circles around to
follow the edge of the canyon. It's a fairly smooth bench-cut, suitable for beginning riders.
The Navajo sandstone cliffs of Zion National Park can be glimpsed from the trail.
View across the canyon.
On the canyon edge, the loop lies above the tech trail (see below) and runs exactly parallel
to it. At mile 1.2 of the counterclockwise loop, there are two short connectors that tie the
loop to the tech trail below. Each connector trail turns the rider 180 degrees as you "swap
trails." It appears that one connector is to turn uphill from the tech trail to join the loop
going counterclockwise, while the other seems designed to take a rider off the loop onto the
Technical traversing trail to western DH
This trail runs along the "break" where the flat area drops off into the canyon.
At the three-way trail split (see above), the center trail is an often-narrow, often techy
traverse on the edge of the canyon. It runs parallel to the lariat loop ride described above.The trail is 0.5 miles long. The tread is much more narrow than the loop that lies just above
it. There are intermittent rock challenges.
Approaching a rock-drop.
A bike-handling challenge.
This rock ramp is the connector between the lariat loop and the tech trail.
The end of this trail segment comes with two connectors to the trail above. It appears that
one connector is designed to take you uphill to the loop, but change your direction. The other
takes riders from the loop and reverses their direction to drop them onto the top of the DH
trail, which continues where the traversing trail ends.
Western (more difficult) DH (not an official name)
Looking down the trail through a few wiggles and bumps. Not too steep here.
The western DH trail starts as a continuation of the tech traversing trail, at the point where
there are two direction-reversing connectors located close together. This DH is 1.1 miles long,
if you follow it all the way to the bridge over Clear Creek. (There's a connector that links
over to the climbing trail without descending all the way down to the creek.) Your descending
will be 350 vertical feet, from an elevation of 6400 feet to 6050.
This route is appropriate for upper-intermediates. Some of the pitches and turns are relatively
steep. The nature of the soil here makes the turns a bit loose. Go with the flow and roll them.
If you try to check your speed in the middle of a turn, you're going to side-slip.
Rolling into a sharp and steep turn.
From lower down, we're looking across Clear Creek.
On the way downhill, the eastern DH trail joins on your left at mile 0.5.At mile 0.8 there's a trail fork. The trail to the left will take you to the climbing trail.
This "link" trail is only 1/10th mile long. When you reach the climbing trail, turn hard left
uphill to climb out of the canyon.
If you continue downhill at the trail fork at mile 0.8, you'll descend to Clear Creek. Cross
the bridge at mile 1.1 of the descent. If you're headed south on Canyon Connection, turn right
to begin your climb up the south side of the canyon. This route will take you to the
lower Applecross trails
.If you're going back uphill on the Clear Creek trails, turn to the left as you cross the bridge.
In 50 yards, the trail will turn onto a second bridge. You're now on the climbing trail, headed
for the top of the northern rim of the canyon.
Bridge to the Canyon Connection trail. Use it for a loop, or to head for the lower Applecross system.
Eastern (easier) DH (not an official name)
Heading south downhill. The climbing trail is on the opposite side of this ravine.
At the three-way trail split described above, take the left-hand trail. The trail will descend
0.4 miles, ending as it joins the western DH (see above).
This downhill seems significantly easier than the western DH. I'd rate it for intermediate
riders. An experienced beginner could manage.The combined trail will then descend another 0.3 miles to the short link trail over to the
climbing trail, or 0.6 miles down to the bridge across the creek. For navigation instructions,
see the western DH description above.
Compared to the western DH route, this descent is relatively tame.
Climbing trail (not an official name)
Heading west up the climbing trail.
The climbing trail begins at the uphill bridge over Clear Creek. Here riders who descended
the DH route all the way to the bottom, and riders coming from downhill switchbacks of the
Canyon Connection trail, will begin their climb uphill. This is a one-way trail.
The trail is fairly easy to ride but has a sustained pitch. It's 0.9 miles long, with a bit
over 300 vertical feet of elevation gain.
From the climbing trail, we're looking south across Clear Creek Canyon. You can see the path of Canyon Connection.
Almost to the top.
At the top of the climbing trail, it joins the connector trail. Turn right to head for North
Fork Road or the upper Applecross system. Keep straight to head for the DH trails or the lariat
map shows middle and upper systems starting with connector trail from lower system
Lower Trailhead: From inside Zion National Park, it's around one mile outside the east gate. Turn left onto
the North Fork (Zion Ponderosa) road. From US-89, turn westbound at the Carmel Junction on
Highway 9. Drive 11 miles then turn right on the North Fork road as above. About 0.2 miles
after turning onto the North Fork road, there's a fenced parking strip on your left. To reach
the upper trails, take Little Dipper to Canyon Connector.
Upper Trailhead: Drive 3.2 miles uphill from Highway 9 on North Fork Road. Turn left into a large gravel parking
area. The trail entry is in a log fence, 100 yards further uphill at the apex of the turn in
the road. (From this parking area, you can also get to the top of the Clear Creek connector
by coasting 0.5 miles downhill to singletrack on your right.)
Roadside spot above Clear Creek (unofficial).
2.7 miles uphill from Highway 9 on North Fork Road. As the road turns
slowly to the right, pass a gravel road on your left, then turn into a
second (gated) dirt road on the left. Immediately hook to the left for a
single parking spot just off the road. The access trail crosses the road
100 feet uphill. To get to the upper trails, find singletrack on your
right. It will take you up to a turn-around area of a dirt road. Keep
right and you'll find singletrack that will take you to the southwest
corner of the Elliptical loop. For the Clear Creek trails, go 100 feet on
North Fork Road as above but turn left onto singletrack and descend to the
main trail fork.
No bathrooms or water at trailheads.
Multi-track GPS track files:
Clear Creek and Upper trails
Other trails in this system: