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Barrel Trail  at Green Valley

First, to avoid confusion:  This is NOT the "Barrel Roll Trail" of the Santa Clara Desert Preserve. This is the Barrel Trail, also called "Barrel Ride."

The Barrel Trail starts across from the north end of the Bearclaw Poppy Trail. It extends up to the Green Valley hillclimb trail, connecting just above the top of the DH portion of the Green Valley Race Loop, and has branches that connect to the upper and lower end of that DH. Barrel is also the south half of the Cactus Hugger race course, riding counterclockwise and using Barrel as the downhill.

Dave rockets past barrel cacti on the Barrel Trail in April 2012. Original review 2008, latest update Novcember 2017.

Named for the many huge barrel cacti along the trail, the Barrel Trail lies on the slope of a cuesta just southwest of St.George. There are multiple riding options including longer loops with significant climbing and quick excursions. The southern end, in fact, might seem confusing if you don't have a solid travel plan.

If you're new to the area, it helps to ride with someone who knows which trail options have the hairy stuff, and which are appropriate for intermediate riders.

View up the trail as we're climbing from the Bearclaw end of the trail. Ride description and original photos by Bruce on January 9, 2008. Fellow trail explorer, Jackie the Jack Russell terrier.

And attention, freeriders! The Barrel Trail also accesses some extreme-tech stunts as an option for the skilled and/or daring. Below I describe a five-mile loop ride starting from the Green Valley trailhead. It climbs to the top of the mountain, then flirts with the edge of the cliffs overlooking the Stucki Springs area. This route is for upper-intermediate to advanced riders. The stunts are for skilled tech riders only.

Bruce hits the steepest rock ramp on the Barrel.

For those who just want a tiny ride, or want to get to the rock playground more quickly, start at the Bearclaw Poppy trailhead. It's just one mile to the top of the playground, and most of the climbing is on the gravel road from the parking area to the water tank.

Some miniature barrel cacti bloom in the April sunshine.

The trail also offers a short-cut version, through a connector to the Green Valley race trail about 1/4 mile below the spot where the hillclimb splits from the loop. This takes you to the trail in the rock wash below the lower Stucki Springs viewpoint (see map).

Getting closer to the top on the counterclockwise loop.

The trail is over 50% rock. There's a broad area of pure slickrock near the top, where the trail is marked by rockpiles (cairns). Most of the rock is slabs and rollovers on the trail.

There are some nice views of the Pine Valley Mountains to the north, and of the red cliffs of the Snow Canyon area.

On top of the hill, with views going forever to the south.

Intermediate riders can manage with short sections of hike-a-bike. The ride starts at 2600 feet elevation, rising to 3300 (more, if you climb to the awesome viewpoint overlooking Stucki Springs). Total climbing will be about 1100 feet. There are plenty of small ledges and rocks to bang over.

Suitable for a roll-down, wheelie drop, or a huck. Just stay loose and go, but get your hands off the brakes. The trail splits here. You have the option of riding smooth dirt, or playing on some sphincter-tightening stuff.

An alternative method (and one I recommend) for the big loop is to start at the Bearclaw Poppy trailhead, then descend to intersect the Green Valley loop just before it heads across the big slickrock area and begins to climb. On the long descent, after passing the rocky playground, keep left to rejoin the outgoing trail about 100 yards from the water tank at Bearclaw Poppy's step-over.

There's plenty of technical rock, but also alternate lines and even entire trail options that bypass the gnar.

I've gone clockwise on the big loop, but the trail seems better taken counterclockwise (north to south after climbing to the top). There's a steep tech section about 1/3 mile south of the top that's extremely tricky to descend and impossible to ride up.

View north on a connector from the water tank road at the top of Bearclaw Poppy. The playgrounds are formed of nugget sandstone.

There are two stunt areas. The bigger one is on the south end, 1/2 mile from the water tank. There are gap jumps, drops, and scary descents. There are multiple lines offering varying crazy tricks, so explore a little. If you're up to it, stay and play.

Here's a nice drop. What's not obvious in the photo is the distance between the cliff edge and the landing ramp. You've gotta hit it with enough speed to clear three feet. My guess is, 5 feet from lip of cliff to top of ramp. There's an alternate roll-down to the left of this, but it's not easy either.

The second set of stunts is on the fainter connector trail that links the trail near the first playground to the beginning of the slickrock area on the GV racecourse. (From there, you can hold right to reach an ATV-track that takes you back up.) I do NOT recommend trying to fight your way up through the rock here.

Here's another barrel cactus, as we approach a tire-trapping dip. For perspective, the cactus is about 4 feet high.

Because it remains snow-free all year, St. George is a great biking destination even in January. But in the winter you have to be satisfied with shorter rides. In the photo at right, it's only 3 pm, but already the shadows are getting long and the air is getting chilly. The Barrel Trail offers enough riding and climbing to satisfy, with stay-and-play options to keep you on the mountain until the evening chases you off.

This ramp above offers a different take -- instead of launching off a rock to a transition ramp, you hit the ramp with speed and launch up onto the rock. Failure to clear the gap is not recommended.

 A trip on the Barrel Ride...

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

Quickie Loop, or access to playground:
0.0  Start at Bearclaw trailhead
       N37 05.340 W113 38.457
       Head up doubletrack
0.4  Just before water tank, R on ST
       N37 05.181 W113 38.824
0.5  Fork L on narrower track
       N37 05.227 W113 38.810
0.6  Keep L (connector from ATV joins)
       N37 05.351 W113 38.821
0.7  Straight past playground exit (on L)
       N37 05.400 W113 38.785
0.8  Fork R for quick loop
       N37 05.454 W113 38.699
       (L=climb up big loop clockwise
       or go to top of playground)

0.9  R uphill on DT
       N37 05.441 W113 38.614
       At crest, stay on DT and through wash
1.1  Keep L (R=connector)
       N37 05.315 W113 38.711
1.2  Pass 1st fork
1.3  L down road
1.7  At parking

Big Loop via GV raceway, figure 8:
0.0  Start at GV trailhead
       Pick trail heading west into tiny wash
       N37 05.340 W113 38.457
       Veer north on first DT west of the wash
0.5  After cresting hill, fork L to cross wash
       N37 05.665 W113 38.348
0.6  Coming out of wash, veer R on ST
       N37 05.608 W113 38.381
       Keep R again
       N37 05.607 W113 38.443
       Climb up onto slickrock area, head across
0.7  Steep climb!
1.5  Keep R (L = shortcut to Barrell)
       N37 05.574 W113 39.300
1.7  Fork L (R = Green Valley Loop)
       N37 05.519 W113 39.447
1.9  L uphill on DT
       N37 05.442 W113 39.696
2.0  Fork L on ST
       N37 05.422 W113 39.727
       (option: straight to viewpoint 1)
2.3  Extreme tech plunge
2.4  Fork L (R=viewpoint 2)
       N37 05.345 W113 39.447
2.6  Keep R (L=return to GV trail)
       N37 05.490 W113 39.368
3.6  Keep L for loop trail
       N37 05.405 W113 38.862
       (options on R=playground)
3.8  Fork R (L=tech DH route)
       N37 05.491 W113 38.734
3.9  Keep L (R=bottom of playground)
       N37 05.454 W113 38.699
4.0  Fork L on ATV track
       N37 05.441 W113 38.614
       (R=climb to Bearclaw TH)
4.1  ATV track joins on R
4.3  Rejoin uphill route
       N37 05.608 W113 38.381
       Immediately! fork R
       Follow R side of wash to fence
4.9  Through fence, cross wash
       Veer L to parking
5.0  At car

Getting there, Green Valley Trailhead: Take the Bluff Street I-15 exit in St. George and turn west. Immediately turn south (left) at the first light. Go over the hill and at the T intersection at the bottom of the hill turn right. Head northwest about two miles on Dixie Drive. Turn left at Canyon View Road, heading uphill toward the Green Valley Spa. (If you reach a "Green Valley Market" with gas pumps, you just passed it. Turn around and backtrack to the second road on your right.) Drive past the spa onto dirt at the end of the road. Turn right at the top of the mesa, then immediately left to drive down into the deep valley. Park in the open area in the valley bottom (N37 05.542 W113 37.967) and pick your route west uphill. (Note: the staging area is private property with a plan for development into homes. This area may change, making these directions invalid.)
Bearclaw Trailhead:
Follow the directions above. But as you drop into the valley, aim for the big gravel road heading straight up the cuesta (just to the right of the sandstone canyon). When you reach the gate, turn R into the parking area (N37 05.340 W113 38.457). Start your ride by continuing up the doubletrack.
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
     Garmin      GPX     Map datum WGS 84
     Cactus Hugger race track loop
St.George southwest, interactive map:  Load 
High-res topo (same as above) for printing:  View
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to St. George area resources

Copyright 2008 Mad Scientist Software Inc
Updated 2017