Looking west toward Zion National Park from Stair Master. Review by Bruce on May 25, 2023.
Applecross MTB Upper 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 upper (northernmost) trails, found on the uphill side of
the road. Trails range from easy to very difficult. With a top elevation of 6800 feet, 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.
The upper Applecross trails are linked to the
via a singletrack connector, and the Clear Creek trails are linked to the
lower Applecross system
via the Canyon Connection trail. See those trail pages for further riding options.
These are beautifully built trails. Here's a swooping turn on the downhill side of the Elliptical loop, an easier trail.
And here's an intermediate descent, with steeper pitches and tighter turns on Ring Around The Rosie.
The trails in the upper system include a climbing trail, the fun Elliptical loop at the top,
several downhill trails, and a connector down to the Clear Creek trails.
Roadside parking just downhill from the upper Applecross system.
North Fork Road parking
This parking area is just below the upper Applecross system and 0.5 miles above the connector
trail to 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 here, you can connect to either the Middle (Clear Creek) or Upper Applecross trail systems.
Trail entry point: From this parking area, pedal 100 yards uphill on North Fork Road to a log fence at the apex
of the turn in the road. After going through the motorcycle-excluder chute, turn to the right
and begin climbing on the singletrack.
Control gate at the entry to the climbing trail. You may need to throw your bike over the fence.
Lower Applecross trailhead, looking north.
Lower Applecross Trailhead:
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
turn left onto the North Fork (Zion Ponderosa) road. 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
Navigating uphill: Pedal through the opening in the fence, then turn left onto the Little Dipper trail. Ride Little
Dipper around the hill, then up the canyon. It will be 1.0 miles to a 4-way trail intersection.
Turn to the left on Canyon Connection, and it will take you to Clear Creek. Next use the climbing
trail (second bridge across the creek) to get up to the canyon rim. Fork to the right and pedal
out to North Fork Road. Cross the road and follow the connector up to the Elliptical loop.
It's 4.2 miles from the lower trailhead to Elliptical.
Heading toward the upper system as we descend Canyon Connection.
Climbing trail (not an official name)
Getting started, just a bit uphill from the trail entry.
The climbing trail extends from the log chute on North Fork Road up to a multi-trail intersection
near the top of the trail system. It's 1.3 miles long, gaining 320 feet in elevation.
The trail does a zigzag course up the hill, with slightly-banked climbing turns. The many switchback
turns make the climb feel like more work than it would seem from the statistics.The terrain is red dirt with pinion and mixed bushes.
Heading into one of many many climbing turns.
The side-slopes are occasionally steep. Near the top the trail flattens out.
At the top, there's a five-way trail intersection. Immediately to the right and downhill is
a relatively primitive downhill trail that drops to the southwest corner of the Elliptical
loop. Hard left is Stair Master, which will take you over to a set of three DH trails. Straight
ahead and veering to the left is the outgoing Elliptical loop. The trail ahead on the right,
50 feet from the end of the climbing trail, is the return side of Elliptical.
Connecting trail (not an official name)
The trail winds through juniper and pinion.
This trail connects the upper Applecross system to the
, 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. It climbs up to a doubletrack
loop then veers right and joins the southwest corner of the Elliptical loop. This route, plus
the return portion of Elliptical, provides another way of climbing uphill from North Fork Road.
Here's the entry to the Elliptical loop, which is done clockwise.
The Elliptical loop is an easy ride, with plenty of fun banked turns. The loop is 3.7 miles
long, enough for a satisfying ride for experienced beginners. Experts will love it too. From
its start at 6700 feet elevation, it first climbs a bit to 6800, then descends (with some up-and-down)
to around 6500 feet before making a steady climb back up to the loop fork.
The trail is designed to be done clockwise. The ride begins with a bit of climbing. From the
loop fork, you'll gain around 100 vertical feet. At mile 0.4, you reach the ride's highest
point. Here there's a launching platform for DH trails (still under construction during my
visit in May 2023).
The trail is a plush bench-cut winding through the trees.
View to the west, with sandstone cliffs of Zion National Park.
View to the south toward the Virgin River.
Rolling into a highly banked turn.
As you head east, the trail begins a swooping twisting downhill. You'll drop 300 vertical feet
in elevation. There are a lot of beautifully banked turns on the eastern downhill side, with
an occasional meander back uphill. Because of the up-and-down riding, your vertical for the
loop will be around 500.
As the trail meanders back to the west at the bottom of the loop, there will be DH trails joining.
These are still being excavated at the time of my review.At the far southwest corner, at mile 2.8 of the loop, you'll come to what looks like a T intersection.
Turn to the right. The left option is the connecting trail down to North Fork Road. About 50
feet after you turn right, a DH trail joins from the left (uphill), but it's rough enough that
you may not notice it.
The terrain is variable, ranging from tall pines to juniper scrub.
Climbing eastbound on the return side of the loop.
From this point, the climbing is fairly consistent, although not too tough. It's 0.9 miles
uphill to the loop fork, and you'll gain 200 feet of elevation.
At the end of Elliptical, you can hook back to the right for another climb, for example if
you're doing laps on the DH trails. Or you can keep left for Stair Master or the climbing trail.
Here's what you see as you close the loop. Left to Stair Master. Right to make another loop.
DH trails off upper Elliptical (names unknown, still under
The entry to the DH is at mile 0.3 of the clockwise Elliptical loop, at the trail's highest
point. On the day of my ride, a crew was installing a platform at the top of the DH access
and an excavator was digging down below. So I didn't explore, and have no tracks or photos
South DH (not an official name)
Looking down the trail toward a couple of small rock-drops.
This is a fairly rough and primitive DH for solid intermediate riders. As you reach the top
of the climbing trail, the DH hooks around to the right. It drops 250 vertical feet over 0.7
miles, ending on the Elliptical loop just beyond (east of) the junction of the access singletrack
with the Elliptical loop.
Unlike the highly machined trails, this rocky trail is pretty raw. As long as there are tire
tracks, you'll do fine at finding your way. At the bottom, turn to the left to climb Elliptical
back to the top. (Or go right to head toward North Fork Road.)
A section of bumpy trail.
Entry to Stair Master. We're looking west after finishing the Elliptical loop.
Stair Master is a rolling traversing trail that begins at the top of the climbing trail. Fork
hard left. It's an intermediate trail with 100 vertical feet of climbing over 0.5 miles. Stair
Master is your connection to the northern DH trails.
At mile 0.2, the trail crosses a dirt road. To your right, a connector trail from upper Elliptical
A bit of twist in the trail as it winds through pinion, juniper and manzanita.
End of the trail, as we roll onto the big wooden platform to pick our DH.
Stair Master ends as a launching platform for three DH routes: Ring Around The Rosie (intermediate),
Leap Frog (Expert), and Duck Duck Goose (upper intermediate). Roll onto the platform and pick
Ring Around The Rosie (intermediate DH)
Turning to the right, we roll across a small ravine on wooden sidewalk.
Ring Around the Rosie is an intermediate DH, but it has two significant stretches of climbing
on the way down. It's 1.5 miles long. Although the top (6800 feet) is 400 feet above the bottom
(6400 feet), the times where you climb back uphill make the total descending around 500.
Turn left as you roll onto the platform from Stair Master. The trail begins with a wooden sidewalk
from the launch platform. You'll pass by the top of an expert-level fly-over to your right,
then go underneath it after you reverse direction. The trail rarely goes straight. The path
is constantly twisting through banked turns.
Approaching a turn, we hit a bank to kick us uphill, then roll a power 180 on highly banked trail.
On the ridgeline before the final drop.
The descending is uncomplicated, with no mandatory drops, jumps, or tricky features. But the
first time the trail turned back uphill for a sustained winding climb, it seemed painful. Probably
because I wasn't in the mindset to grunt back uphill.As the trail approaches North Fork Road, it again turns back uphill to climb to a ridgeline.
After following the ridge west for a bit, it drops off and begins a final drop to the entry
The Ring Around The Rosie trail is joined by Duck Duck Goose (on your right) just a few feet
from the bottom, then the combined trail passes the entry fence to re-enter the climbing trail.
Down the hill we go!
Duck Duck Goose (intermediate DH)
Looking north as the ramp descends to a drop.
Because of drops, features, and jumps, Duck Duck Goose would be an upper intermediate trail.
I really liked this route. It flows more naturally top to bottom than Ring Around The Rosie,
so if you can only pick one DH route, this is the one.
For Duck Duck Goose, turn to the right as you roll onto the platform from Stair Master. The
trail begins with a down-sloping wooden ramp that leads to a two-foot drop. Then it's off to
the races with a bit of undulating straightaway to get your speed up and get the juices flowing.
A rare bit of straight-ish trail.
Beautiful turn. These trails are superbly built.
Duck Duck Goose drops 400 vertical feet over 1.2 miles. Turns are highly banked and fun to
rail. There's a little bit of gentle uphill near the bottom as you go around a ridge to the
bottom of Ring Around The Rosie and the climbing trail.
While the trail is 99.9% dirt, there are a couple of rock features. This rock has a two-foot drop, but you could roll it.
Here's a rock-garden ramp. A bit bouncy but not tricky. And there's a ride-around it rocks aren't your thing.
Dropping down to a jumping lip. Clear the gap and land on the down-slope on the far side of the second bump.
Diving board. Easy wooden ramp with two feet of air down to a gentle slope. Really, you can just dribble off.
Nothing but rocks and sticks underneath.
The middle option from the launch platform will be a high-expert line. While the trail name
is here, this trail hasn't been built yet. The platform will probably drop onto a steep downslope.
This fly-over looks like a second entry point to the expert DH. It would be accessed from Ring
Around The Rosie. But as you can see, it's not connected to any trail yet.
Waiting for a trail. Ring Around The Rosie runs underneath.
Area map of Clear Creek and Upper Applecross trails, with connector trail to lower system.
Getting there, Lower Applecross 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.
the upper trails, take Little Dipper to Canyon Connector.
Upper Trails: 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:
lower Applecross trails GPX
Clear Creek and Upper Applecross trails GPX
Other trails in this system:
at Clear Creek