The Church Rocks Loop is a popular trail just north of Washington (about 10 miles north of St. George). The loop itself is 3.1 miles of 80% slickrock. It's a fairly rapid ride, with little elevation change (about 150 feet), so you may want to do the loop section a couple of times. Because of some steep and rough spots, Church Rocks ranks upper-intermediate overall in skill level, but less-skilled riders manage by walking the tricky spots.
Your overall ride will be longer. Church Rocks doesn't have its own trailhead, so you'll have to plan to ride there via Prospector, Grapevine, or The Tunnel. Most riders now connect to Church Rocks via the Prospector Trail through the Cottonwood Trailhead. More on that later.
This is how we got there 20 years ago. Now the first part is paved trail from the Coral Canyon subdivision. With the connector road and the spooky ride through the "haunted I-15 pipe", you'll do about 8.2 miles if you ride the loop only once.
This is the most popular way to get there. Start at the Cottonwood trailhead (see below). Follow the Cottonwood Trail 0.5 miles then veer left at two forks that are about 50 feet apart. The Prospector Trail will parallel the freeway heading south 3 miles. Turn left when it intersects the Church Rocks Loop and ride the loop clockwise. The ride will be about 11 miles.
From the Grapevine trailhead, take Grapevine (the continuation of Prospector) east. At the top of the hill, there are two options. Straight ahead takes you down some ugly switchbacks. If you fork to the left for about 100 yards, you'll find another route descending through the ravine that's much more mellow. It ties into the western corner of the Church Rocks loop.
Some riders will come in via Dino Cliffs. From the north end of Dino, jog east on the doubletrack to pick up the Grapevine trail. See the Dino Cliffs trail page .
Church Rocks' northern side is the "upper side" of the loop. The trail follows the break between the sagebrush of the mesa and the slickrock cliffs. This area isn't hard to navigate -- follow the tire marks on the slickrock. If you're riding clockwise (my favorite) you just aim your bike east and follow the edge of the rock. The trail descends to the bottom of the cliffs near Church Rocks -- the domes you see rising up to the east.
Church Rocks from the Cottonwood Trailhead...
Very fun ride, quick and scenic. Popular, so expect company.
Church Rocks Alternate Lines!
Prospector Trail from the Cottonwood Trailhead: This is a great ride! Take the UT-9 exit from I-15 (highway 9 goes to Hurricane, Zion Canyon, Grand Canyon) about 15 miles north of St. George. Turn towards Hurricane and pass Coral Canyon. Instead, drive to the traffic light in 0.7 miles. Turn left on Old Highway 91. Now go exactly 2 miles north. Watch on your left for a gravel road that enters a tiny single-lane slot under the freeway, with a sign that says "Cottonwood Trailhead". It will be between a beer warehouse labeled Winkel Distributing and a Rocky Mountain Power office. Turn left and drive 0.25 miles under both lanes of the freeway to reach the trailhead.
For a bigger ride, start at the northern Prospector Trailhead on the road to Red Cliffs. See the Prospector Trail page. The trailhead is just across the freeway from Harrisville (use the Leeds exit and go south, or follow Old 91 north from Highway 9). This makes the ride just over 16 miles.
Slick Rock Road in Coral Canyon: Go to Heritage Park as above, but as you climb up Grasslands Parkway, turn left on Slick Rock Road. Keep going south until the road turns north toward the freeway. Watch for the cement trail between two homes just before Slick Rock Road turns back east and becomes Sprint Canyon Drive. Once on the trail, fork right uphill, then take the next fork left to climb up Black Ridge toward the water tank.
Grapevine via Washington Parkway: Go to the north end of Washington Parkway (at the new exit 13 off I-15). Keep straight into the dirt road through a two fences, then park. Head east (to your right as you drive through the second fence). Follow the Grapevine Trail to the Prospector connector, then grab Bracken's for 0.1 mile, then fork R to head for Church Rocks. See the Dino Cliffs trail page for specific instructions.