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Dark Hollow Trail

The Dark Hollow Trail is an intermediate-technical downhill flow-trail romp that begins on Brian Head Peak. Trailhead elevation is 11,300 (11,000 if you start from the shuttle parking area rather than the peak). You'll need to do a bit of Sidney Peaks to get there. Just about everyone does this ride with a shuttle.

View from Brian Head Peak, looking south towards Cedar Breaks. Photos July 27, 2001 by Bruce Argyle.

The "vertical mile" route descends 5,300 feet to Parowan. But to avoid riding on the highway, most riders park their shuttle vehicle at the mouth of Second Left-hand Canyon at 6600 feet altitude. Length of the combined singletrack and doubletrack to the highway is 12 miles. Add 4 miles of paved road if you're going into Parowan.

Brian Head Peak is light-colored soft volcanic rock, deposited during last 20 million years. The bright pink cliffs of Cedar Breaks are formed of Claron-formation limestone from about 40 million years ago during the Tertiary Era. This limestone was deposited at the bottom of a large fresh-water lake, before the plateau area was uplifted away from the valleys of the Great Basin. After a couple of miles on the surface volcanic deposit, you'll drop through an area of intrusive igneous rock (granite), before cruising through pink dirt of the Claron formation.

The trail begins on Brian Head Peak. This first 1.5 miles is fairly easy riding, but can be cool and exposed to wind. At the fork, you turn left, while Bunker Creek is straight ahead and Lowder Ponds is to your right.

As you drop down Dark Hollow, the trail becomes steep and rough with embedded rocks. Much of the time, those rocks are covered with loose dirt. These sections aren't very long, but they can be challenging. Intermediate riders may want to walk some of the more difficult sections of downhill.

Bruce rolls over a rise in the ridge at 11,000 feet.

The trail is easy to follow, with signs at every trail intersection. The only spot that wasn't marked was the intersection of the singletrack with the Second Left-hand Canyon road. (Just remember you're going downhill -- turn left at the road. But if you want to go uphill to Yankee Meadows Reservoir, you can go down First Left-hand Canyon to the highway from there. It adds about 2 miles.)
The trail enters forest of spruce and aspen. It also becomes easier to ride, but with an occasional tricky section. When the trail goes a while without rain, it gets sloppy, and small rocks in the soil act like ball-bearings under your tires on the turns.

Although only the first section is exposed to high-altitude sun and wind, you'd be in trouble if you broke down here. So pack rain gear and a strong sunblock.

The trail winds through aspen forest, near the fork of the Scout Camp Loop.

After 6 miles, you'll leave the singletrack and turn left on the Second Left-hand Canyon road. Here, you'll coast another 6 miles down to the highway. The trees change from spruce and aspen to juniper, fir, pinion, and box elder.

Because it's almost all downhill, this trail is easy aerobic. The old boulder-jarring downhill sections have been replaced by engineered flow trail, but eventually the rocks will wear through again. Wear gloves to prevent hand blisters.

Rolling down the doubletrack at 30 mph. The last 6 miles may only take about 15 minutes.

Shuttle service is available from the bike shops at Brian Head. Cost per rider (summer 2008) is $20. I used the Bike Park (Giant Steps) shuttle, and got one free ride on the chairlift with the shuttle fee.

Getting there:  Leave your shuttle car on U-143, anywhere below Second Left-hand Canyon (the canyon is up the second gravel road on the left after entering the canyon). GPS of the intersection of U-143 with the trail is N 37 47.931' W 112 49.350'. On U-143, head up the canyon from Brian Head to the summit. Just 1/4 mile past the summit sign, turn left on a gravel road (GPS N 37 40.136' W 112 50.350'). Drive 2.5 miles to the peak of the mountain to start your ride. GPS is GPS N 37 40.904' W 112 49.827'. (Note the parking area to your left at 1.8 miles. Once you start riding, you'll turn onto the singletrack across the road.)

One-page summary trail guide for your printer
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
    Garmin       GPX 
Topo map for printing:    High-res view
Lodging, camping, shops:     Links to Brian Head area resources

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