with Land of the Giants and Spare Rib
The Lava Link trail connects the uphill parts of two riding areas in
the Iron Hills system. From the top of Elevate
in Shurtz Canyon, Lava Link climbs up and over to Lava
Flow in the Southview area. Lava Link also provides access to the
expert-level loop of Tombstone and Bone
Yard. Land of the Giants and Spare Rib are two very-short trails off
Lava Link, discussed below.
View from Lava Link as I-15 heads north into Cedar
City. The hills of Three Peaks are in the distance. Photos and review by Bruce
on July 27, 2021.
|Lava Link is an upper-intermediate trail with some technical
rock-work to bang across. It's 2.1 miles long. The trail rides easier
north-to-south, as more of the rock gardens are on the downhill side in
this direction. Most of the trail is red dirt in a terrain of pinion and
Climbing from the south on Lava Link. Note the
frequent piles of rock. These rock gardens are much easier in the
||It requires substantial climbing to reach either end of the
trail. Lava Link can be reached from the Southview or the Shurtz Canyon
trailheads. It's about the same amount of work from either end.
Heading away from parking at the Southview trailhead.
Lichen It will take you to Lava Flow, which quickly connects to Lava Link.
|On the northern end, you'll start from the Southview
trailhead and climb 2.6 smooth miles of Lichen It, then traverse 0.5 miles
on upper Lava Flow. You'll find Lava Link at a four-way intersection where
Boulder Dash ends on Lava Flow. It's 450 vertical feet of climbing from
Southview to reach Lava Link.
Dropping into Lava Flow at the top of Lichen It.
||From the Shurtz Canyon trailhead, you'll take Turnpike 0.9
miles to Elevate and climb uphill 1.4 miles to the southern end of Lava
Link. Your climbing will be 350 vertical feet before you reach Lava Link
from this end. This route is a bit shorter, but with tougher, rockier
climbing -- especially once you actually start riding on Lava Link.
Climbing on Turnpike, heading for Elevate.
||Lava Link's lowest point is 6400 feet at its southern end at
the top of the Elevate trail. It will climb to an elevation of 6700, then
descend to 6500 feet at Lava Flow. The expected riding season will be late
May through October.
Four-way intersection where Lava Link starts on the
southern end. Elevate is on the far left, Lava Link is straight ahead.
Bone Yard is on the far right, and Black Ops is directly behind us.
Lava Link forms the upper side of a loop between the two Iron Hills
trailheads. I believe this will be the way most riders experience Lava
Turnpike forms the lower connection, and the loop on the upper mountain
consists of Lichen It, a bit of Lava Flow, Lava Link, and either Elevate
or Black Ops.
Lava Link spends most of its time contouring the
hillside. This is a smooth section.
||This loop is 11.2 miles if done from Shurtz Canyon. I
recommend a clockwise ride: northbound on the Turnpike trail, then
southbound on the higher mountain (Lichen It to Lava Flow then Lava Link,
descending via Black Ops).
From Southview TH (skipping the bit of Turnpike
that lies between the trailhead and the bottom of Black Ops) it's 10.7
miles around the loop.
Looking southwest from Lava Link. Note that the trail
is 100% rock at this spot.
|Lava Link is also the route to the expert-level loop of the
Tombstone trail and Bone Yard. Most riders will be coming from the south
via the Shurtz Canyon trailhead.
Climbing is generally fairly mellow. But when you hit
the rock gardens, it becomes tougher.
||It's 2.3 miles and 350 vertical feet from Shurtz Canyon to
the top of Elevate. At the four-way, turn left onto Lava Link. (The other
trails are the bottom of Bone Yard and the top of Black Ops.) From here, it's 0.7 miles and 150 vertical feet of
climbing on Lava Link to reach the bottom of Tombstone.
Heading north into the ride's highest point. From
here, we'll descend 250 vertical feet to Lava Flow.
|Riders who are heading for Tombstone from Southview will
probably elect to take the Short Rib trail, which allows them to bypass a
significant bit of Lava Link and lower Tombstone. (See below.)
Here's a couple of rock gardens to slam over.
||There are two short side-trails that branch off of Lava
Link. The southernmost is "Land of the Giants." This
expert-level DH-only trail starts at mile 0.4 from Elevate. (You'll pass
the exit from this trail just after mile 0.3 from Elevate.) Land of the
Giants circles around downhill for 0.1 mile to rejoin Lava Link, where
you'll repeat a climb of 100 yards to get back to where you turned onto
Land of the Giants.
Entry to Land of the Giants from Lava Link at a
180-degree right turn.
|The trail goes over this big rock. Expert
to clean these obstacles.
|Note the rock ramp just to the left of
center. That's the
way up to the top of this rock roll-over.
|Land of the Giants has lots of rocks, including two very big
rock rollovers. If you're an intermediate rider who was suckered into
riding it, at least it's not very long.
Rolling back toward Lava Link after some quick fun.
||The Spare Rib trail connects Lava Link at mile 1.1 from
Elevate (1 mile from Lava Flow) to the lower Tombstone trail. It's only
0.1 mile long, but with a fairly stiff pitch. Depending on which direction
you're riding, it can be used as a shortcut to bypass a series of turns on
Descending on Spare Rib towards Tombstone.
|The Spare Rib trail is fairly smooth to ride either
direction. It will be used mainly by riders who are coming from Southview
and heading for Tombstone.
Bottom of Spare Rib from the Tombstone trail.
Nice addition to the Iron Hills system, allowing more complex and longer
rides. I like the clockwise loop option for strong intermediates.
New camping area at Shurtz Canyon, not quite ready to
open. The lighter stuff in the center is a sand patch for tents.
Shurtz Canyon Trailhead. Exit I-15 and head south on Old Highway 91
as above. At 2.4 miles, turn left on Tipple Road. After 0.6 miles, turn
left on Shurtz Canyon Road (mislabeled "Shirts" on the road
sign). Go 0.7 miles and turn left into the trailhead. The Turnpike trail is on the
east side of the parking area. Pedal through the campground and go 0.9
miles to Elevate, then climb Elevate to Lava Link.
Southview Trailhead. At the southern I-15 Cedar City exit (Exit 57 to Cross Hollow Road
and Highway 130), turn east onto Highway 130. Immediately turn right
(south) from 130 onto Old Highway 91. Drive 0.3 miles. Watch for the sign
for Southview Trailhead and turn left on
Shurtz Canyon Drive. Now stay on Shurtz Canyon Drive to the trailhead and
find a spot to park. Start out on the paved Southview trail. After the
bridge, go past the Turnpike trail and the one-way return trails from Lava
Flow and Iron Giant. Turn right onto Lichen It and climb to Lava Flow to
connect to Lava Link.
Bathrooms: Southview and Shurtz trailheads
Repair stand at Southview trailhead
Water: Southview only, at sink in bathroom
Camping: Campground under construction at Shurtz Canyon (recommend Three
Peaks for now)