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Cove Wash Trail
Cottonwood Wash Viewpoint, connections to Stucki Spring

OK, let's put the bottom line first: this isn't going to be your favorite ride. If you're looking for a few of St. George's best trails, skip this one. But if you've done all the local trails a few times and are ready to try something new, then yes, Cove Wash is worth riding. If you don't mind sharing with motoheads.

Handlebar view in Cove Wash. Photos April 14, 2009 by Bruce.

The route I describe here is 10 miles, but you can add a lot of miles by riding directly from St.George (see below), or by doing a loop with the ATV trails in (and on the ridgeline between) the two forks of the wash. It starts at the popular Barrel Roll trailhead. Nearby trails include Blackbrush, Rim Rock, and Sidewinder.

The trail is entirely dirt road or ATV doubletrack. For the classic ride, you'll spend 3 miles in the wash bottom, then climb up to a viewpoint for 8 miles out-and-back. The grade is steady, and there's nothing technical here. Total climbing is only 600 vertical feet. It makes a good training ride.

The washbottom is an ATV route. I found the riding surface smooth with only a little softness. No deep boggy sand. I passed only one single in the wash.

Jackie waits for the explorer to snap a photo among tamarisk in the first portion of the wash. Jackie did 20 miles on this exploration ride.

For those with an appetite for miles, may I suggest climbing further up the south fork of the wash. If you choose to ride up the wash beyond the turnoff to the viewpoint, it will narrow and become more a little more technical. This is a very nice add-on to the ride: to the spot where the track exits the wash, up-and-down it adds two fun miles. Or, you can do the stiff climb as the ATV tread heads out and up to a ridge. From there, you can do a blazing ridgeline descent to about 1/2 mile below the fork to the viewpoint. Or, you can drop in to the north fork of the wash for your descent.

Another handlebar view of the mudstone of the wash in the lower Chinle or uppper Moenkopi formation. The gradual slope is due to an erosion-resistant layer of limestone underlying the red stuff.

The route I describe below is a 10-mile loop. It climbs to the viewpoint, then descends by doubletrack through the White Hills to Stucki Spring. If you connected to the wash from St.George by bicycle via the Stucki trail, you're now ready to head back. There are quite a few branching doubletracks in the area, but as long as you keep heading generally east and downhill, you will arrive back at civilization.

To our right, we pass the mesa where the Rim Rock and Rim Runner singletrack trails offer more awesome miles once we complete our wash ride.

At mile 3.6 from the Cove Wash trailhead, doubletrack heads left uphill as you enter the White Hills. The main route drops left again through a gully, but you can take the less-used straight-ahead for an easier climb. At the top, you have an incredible view over the banded breaks of Cottonwood Wash. From here, it's playtime. Go explore.

This is the doubletrack heading up toward the viewpoint.

View to the west from the viewpoint. If you picked the easier ATV track, the trail you see here leads up to the main viewpoint.

For my ride, I headed left (east) from the viewpoint. There are a lot of ATV tracks here, but they're all heading toward the same place. Just keep generally eastward and downhill. The route I followed tracked southeast for about a mile, then northeast for two miles to arrive at Stucki Spring.

View east, as the breaks of Cottonwood Wash form brilliant bands of color. It's 1000 vertical feet to the bottom.

If you're circling back via Stucki Road, you won't be able to ride up Cove Wash to the trailhead. There's a huge slab of boulder wedged into the slot canyon. Don't dream of trying to scramble over it with your bike. Instead, finish the return by road.

View east as the doubletrack flies along the ridgeline. You can barely make out Black Hill and Green Valley on the right, just above the first escarpment. 

A fun option is lower Cove Wash, heading downhill from the Stucki Spring road. There's a short rock section, then alternating gravel and rock for some tech challenges. You can reach St.George through Box Canyon to Green Valley. (The wash connects to the Green Valley race loop. This creates a nice dirt route for extended rides! See the tracks in the GPX file below.)

View down Cove Wash to the east of Stucki Spring road.

Riding notes, Cove Wash Loop:
0.0  Out of parking fence, south on DT
       N37 07.244 W113 40.479
0.1  Veer R and drop into wash
0.2  Keep R and uphill
       N37 07.212 W113 40.651
1.6  Stay in bottom of wash (ignore DT)
2.6  Fork L as wash splits (option, R for big loop)
       N37 06.494 W113 42.253
3.6  Take DT forking L out of wash
       N37 06.181 W113 43.007
       (option, continue 1.5 miles up wash,
        return loop via ridgeline or washbottom)
3.8  Hard L through wash (option, straight)
       N37 06.107 W113 43.162
4.1  At viewpoint
       N37 05.919 W113 43.263
       For out-and-back, retrace route
       For loop, L on DT
4.7  Fork R (southwest)
       N37 05.840 W113 42.703
4.9  Keep straight
       N37 05.667 W113 42.566
5.2  Turn L (northeast)
       N37 05.522 W113 42.416
5.9  Enter wash, continue downhill
       N37 05.761 W113 41.747
7.3  Pass Stucki Spring
       N37 05.981 W113 40.626
       (keep heading northwest)
8.8  Through Cove Wash
       (option, descend wash)
9.0  Fork L on DT
       N37 07.119 W113 39.808
9.7  L toward TH
10   Back at parking
Getting there:  In St. George, head north on Bluff Street and turn left on Sunset Blvd. Drive 3 miles west on Sunset through Santa Clara. As you're reaching the end of Santa Clara, look for a road crossing the river on your left. It's about 200 feet before the Jacob Hamblin Home (which will be on your right if you pass the turn). Turn and cross the river and follow the road as it turns right. About 0.4 miles from Hwy 191, turn left onto the dirt Stucki Springs road. At mile 0.7, turn right at the sign Preserve" or "Cove Wash Trailhead." Pass the water tank, and at mile 1.3, turn right again through the fence. This road will veer left, then arrive at a log fenced parking area at mile 1.5, N37 07.253 W113 40.508.
Dirt route from Green Valley, 5 miles (plus city streets) each way: Up DH section of GV racecourse (1.8 miles). Step across the fence and go down into the dip facing northwest. Drop down very-steep DT into the next valley, proceed  west then northwest and go through the fence to Stucki Springs (1.3 miles). R on Stucki Springs Rd, go another 1.8 miles then left at fork (don't descend into big wash). Pass DT going up to fence on your L about 0.1 mile later, then keep R at the next fork 100 yards later, then L at next fork. Drop into wash and start head uphill in the wash.
Track files for connecting to this area by bike from Green Valley (5 track options, including lower Cove Wash): GPX
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
   Garmin      GPX     Map datum WGS 84
     Monster file of area tracks and alternates!  
St.George southwest, interactive map:  Load 
High-res topo (500 KB):  View
Lodging, camping, shops:  Links to St. George area resources

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