The JEM Trail is found just west of the town of Virgin near Zion National Park. It remains one of the most-popular rides in the Hurricane area. Named for trailblazers John, Ellen, and Mike, this trail offers high-speed desert cruising and a cliff-side ride along the Virgin River. Except for one dangerous switchback (which you can walk), it's an easy technical ride.
In 2015 the upper 2.1-mile portion of JEM became one-way downhill only. This is the section from the Highway 59 trailhead down to the Goosebumps / Dead Ringer connector intersection. When climbing to the Highway 59 trailhead, you must use either Dead Ringer or the JEM Doubletrack .
And in 2022 the lower 1.8 miles also became a one-way DH. From the lower (Virgin) JEM trailhead to the Hurricane Rim trail fork, you must use Carne Asada when climbing uphill.
In Hurricane, turn south on US-59 (towards the Grand Canyon). Drive exactly 5 miles uphill. Turn left on cindered doubletrack right as you approach the base of Gooseberry Mesa. Drive another 0.3 miles to the parking area. Cross the cattle guard at the gate, then immediately turn right on singletrack. This section of JEM is one-way only. Looking northeast in the upper JEM Highway 59 trailhead.
In La Verkin, turn east onto Highway 9 toward Zion National Park. Drive 4 miles uphill. Just after you reach the first homes approaching Virgin, find the cindered Sheep Bridge Road on your right. Descend toward the bridge across the Virgin River and find a parking spot along the road. Start pedaling. Just past the bridge, but before the cattle guard, there's a dirt road to the right. This will take you to the bottom of JEM and Carne Asada. (The parking directly at the bottom of JEM is reserved for the nature conservancy.) Trail fork from JEM to Carne Asada (one-way climbing route), just 100 feet from the trailhead at the end of the doubletrack.
See our topo map below for an overview of the area trails. Navigation is fairly easy, but a cell phone with a trail App always helpful when deciding where to ride next as you stand at a trail fork. The trail is well-marked with carsonite posts.
(1) Out-and-back figure-eight. From the lower parking on Sheep Bridge road near SR-59, Carne Asada uphill to the Hurricane Rim trail fork. JEM uphill on the two-way section to the Dead Ringer fork at mile 5.3. Up the hill on Dead Ringer to the upper (Highway 9) trailhead, then down JEM back to the Virgin trailhead.
(2) Top to bottom with shuttle from the lower trailhead off SR-59 the upper JEM trailhead on SR-9.
(3) As part of the Goulds and Hurricane Rim loop ride, doing the 5 miles of JEM that lies between SR-9 and the Hurricane Rim trail fork in a counter-clockwise ride.
Then there's the old classic JEM Loop, which is 12.9 miles in length with 800 feet of altitude gain. The first half of the classic JEM loop is uphill doubletrack ; the last 6.2 miles is downhill singletrack. While fewer riders are using this route now, it's an alternative for groups who want to ride side-by-side on the way uphill.
Descending JEM from top to bottom (2019 video)...
Ride log for the downhill on JEM:
0.0 Cross cattleguard, then right on ST along the fence
0.5 Cross doubletrack
0.8 Keep R at More Cowbell connector, drop off mesa
1.4 Cross Goosebumps/Dead Ringer connector
2.1 Cross Dead Ringer, then Sheep Bridge Road
(trail becomes two-way!)
3.2 Keep R at Chinatown Wash fork
4.2 Cross Cryptobionic
5.0 Keep straight (R = climbing route, L = Hurricane Rim)
5.3 Trailhead/Camping area, connector to road on R, keep L
5.9 Connector from Carne Asada on R, keep L
6.7 Carne Asada on R, keep L
6.8 Gorge trailhead, take DT out
7.0 Sheep Bridge Road TH
One of the best trails in the area, very popular. The trail is a fun ride, and definitely worth doing. The views into the chasm of the Virgin River are awesome (note that you'll miss this section of JEM if you're riding the Hurricane Loop option). The high-speed singletrack descent is a blast. A good choice for mixed-ability groups! The JEM trail is a must-ride for your bucket list.
An old video (analog era) of the guys riding the Hurricane Loop...
Start from parking area on US-59 above Hurricane
0.0 R (downhill) on US-59
0.2 L uphill on DT
1.8 Top of DT climb
2.3 R off DT onto ST
N 37 09.606 W 113 16.330 Alt=4000'
5.4 Trailhead, L on DT, head NE
N 37 08.142 W 113 16.280
6.2 At corral, find ST rear on R
N 37 08.310 W 113 15.649
8.0 ST comes in from R
8.3 US-59. For Big Loop, cross to DT
N 37 08.096 W 113 14.564 Alt=4350'
For small loop, head downhill on road
8.6 JEM Trailhead, cross cattleguard
N 37 08.329 W 113 14.527
Immediate R onto ST
9.0 Cross DT, descend toward cliffs
9.3 Keep R (L=More Cowbell)
N37 08.863 W113 14.661
Drop off ledge on switchback
N37 09.119 W113 15.103
10.8 Keep R (L = China Wash)
N37 10.541 W113 15.154
11.0 Cross Dead Ringer
Cross Sheep Bridge gravel road
11.1 Cross Cryptobionic
N37 10.798 W113 14.354
14.0 Fork L to Hurricane Rim
N 37 11.261 W 113 13.862 Alt=3650'
15.8 Virgin Dam trailhead
N 37 11.781 W 113 14.109
(Cryptobionic start on L)
16.0 Keep L (R=Virgin Dam trail)
18.7 R across Chinatown Wash
Straight = Chinatown Wash trail
19.6 Dam trail rejoins on R
20.2 Panorama Point
N 37 11.169 W 113 16.179 Alt=3850'
21.5 Back at parking
Sheep Bridge Road trailhead: Found half-way along gravel Sheep Bridge Road, which connects US-9 to US-59. Drive toward the upper JEM trailhead on Highway 59 as above. But at mile 3.3 (while still on the flat area), turn left on gravel Sheep Bridge road. Drive 2.9 miles on Sheep Bridge road to a fenced parking area with a bathroom. Cryptobionic and northern Dead Ringer can be found here. Option 1, roadside parking off US-59: If you turned onto Sheep Bridge Road from Highway 59, immediately park on the right, just inside the fence. Pedal 0.4 miles northeast to where the JEM singletrack crosses.
Upper JEM trailhead: In Hurricane, turn south on US-59 (towards the Grand Canyon). Drive exactly 5 miles uphill. Turn left on cindered doubletrack right as you approach the base of Gooseberry Mesa. Drive another 0.3 miles to the parking area.
NOTE! There is no longer a "lower JEM trailhead." it has been closed by the nature conservancy.
One-page riding guides to:
Hurricane Cliffs Trail Summary page Gould's Connector Carne Asada Hurricane Rim Trail Gould's Rim Trail Goosebumps/Cryptobionic
More Cowbell (beginner White Ledges loop) Dead Ringer JEM DT
GPS track files (right-click and "Save target as..."):
GPX master file of area trails JEM only JEM Classic (OLD) Loop track Loop from Sheep Bridge TH JEM - Hurricane Rim - Goulds - JEM Loop from Hurricane Hill TH Goulds-JEM-Hurricane Loop
Area map (view and/or print): Printable topo map of trail system
Lodging, camping, shops: Links to St. George area resources