Looking north from Morning Glory East. Trail review by Bruce on November 30, 2022 with update April 2, 2023.
Tilted Mesa lies 10 miles east of Kanab. The BLM is partnering with Kanab's Cycling Club to
develop around 16 miles of trail here. At this time (April 2023), the area is open for public
riding, but the trailhead has not been completed and a couple of trails are still being worked
Tilted Mesa has three connected mesas. From east to west, these are called First, Second, Third
Mesa. Each mesa offers its own loops and options, with interconnections between them.
Climbing uphill on Shinarump conglomerate on the Western Legend trail.
Looking northeast from Tilted Mesa.
At the time of this updated review (April 2, 2023), the Chocolate Canyon loop and Third Mesa
loop are roughed in but not finished. Trail signs have been completed as each trail has come
on-line. So once you understand the system, navigation isn't complicated.
Temporary parking. Busy even on a cold windy weekday!
Take US-89 eastbound from Kanab. Drive 9.3 miles from the traffic light where US-89 and US-89A
split apart. Pass the paved Johnson Canyon Road on your left. Now go another 0.7 miles, cross
Johnson Wash, and add another 1/10th mile. At exactly mile 10.1, turn to the right on a dirt
road. Drive south for one mile and turn to the left at the dirt road fork. 100 yards after
the turn, turn uphill to the right on a small dirt road. Immediately find a spot to park. There's
room for 5 to 6 cars alongside the road. Start the ride by pedaling 200 feet up the dirt road.
Morning Glory will be on your left; Western Legend on your right. A formal trailhead will be
built during spring 2023, to be located at the spot where the trails fork away from the dirt
road. It will include a toilet.
General trail information
View northeast from the tippy-top of the Morning Glory loop.
The elevation of the trailhead is 5100 feet, with the top of the loops at 5450. The usual riding
season will be late March through November. Although there's a lot of rock surface, portions
of the trails will pass over dirt and clay. So if the trailhead area is muddy, do not ride.
There are no beginner-level trails here. The riding ranges from easier-intermediate (western
Morning Glory) to expert (Western Legend) to high-expert (The Matrix). Most trails here require
at least an advanced-intermediate skill set and good riding strength.
Looking west as the Middle Earth trail winds through brown clays of the Chinle formation.
Following a break in the rock above Chocolate Canyon while climbing Western Legend.
The "tilt" of Tilted Mesa follows the Shinarump conglomerate layer of the Chinle Formation,
which tends to resist erosion. Below the Shinarump are colorful clays of the Chinle and Moenkopi
formations, for example in Chocolate Canyon. Because some trails lie in the clay layer, there's
a good variety of riding experiences and surfaces. Note that the clay in Chocolate Canyon doesn't
dry quickly, so riding the Chocolate Canyon and upper Middle Earth trails would be unwise after
rainstorms or in early spring.
All the rock layers tilt gradually upward from north to south. We're on the edge of the regional
geologic uplift for the Grand Canyon. (The Grand Canyon did not "dig a hole." Instead, the
ground rose up while the river stayed in place.) The Kiabab Limestone, which lies under Fredonia
at 5000 feet elevation, has been uplifted to 8000 feet at the edge of the Grand Canyon. You're
riding on the slope of that uplift.
Looking west toward Kanab from upper Western Legend.
Typical terrain: pinion, juniper and gooseberry on a base of Shinarump.
For those who ride the mesa trails around Hurricane (Gooseberry, Guacamole, Little Creek, Wire
Mesa), the terrain will seem very familiar. The trails wind through a forest of juniper, pinion,
and gooseberry. Pebbles and petrified wood erode out of the Shinarump conglomerate and lie
strewn around the surface.
The main difference from the mesa trails to the west is that Tilted Mesa is, well, tilted.
So instead of rolling up and down, you climb when you're headed south, and descend when you're
The Shinarump conglomerate marks the division between the Triassic Era and the Jurassic. It
was deposited around 220 million years ago. While southern Utah was under the ocean, the Kiabab
Limestone formed. On top of this are the clay deposits of the Moenkopi formation, laid down
when the region was a huge mud-flat. The Chinle formation is a transition, with alternating
mud and sandstone deposits as western Utah began to rise up. The Shinarump layer formed from
sand and pebbles washing down from those mountains to the west. The presence of petrified wood
tells us that the area had forests. Meantime, mammal-like reptiles gave way to dinosaurs after
the Triassic extinction.
View in Chocolate Canyon, below the Shinarump layer.
Morning Glory, Middle Earth, Chocolate Canyon, Low Road
Descending Morning Glory East on a counterclockwise ride, looking northeast.
The Morning Glory Loop is a lariat ride of 3 miles on First Mesa. The common stem is 1/4 mile
long, and the loop is 2.5 miles around. The loop has 400 vertical feet of climbing. Morning
Glory one of the easier rides in the area, ranked intermediate in skill requirement. If you're
not a particularly strong intermediate rider, you might find that Morning Glory rides easiest
in the counterclockwise direction (up Morning Glory West and down Morning Glory East).
Morning Glory West has connections to the top and bottom of the Middle Earth trail (as an alternate
more-technical descent bypassing most of Morning Glory West). Near the top of the Morning Glory
Loop, the Low Road trail offers a connection to Western Legend on Second Mesa.
The ride begins by riding from the temporary parking uphill on the sandy doubletrack. Fork
to the left for a 50-foot hike through sand. Although Morning Glory hardly seems like a trail
here, this is only temporary! The sandy stretch is the future parking lot.
View to the south from the top of Morning Glory. This area is called the Shinarump Cliffs.
Looking north after we begin descending Morning Glory West on a clockwise ride.
When the singletrack joins an old jeep road at mile 0.2, continue uphill for 100 yards. The
trail will then split into the loop. The right-hand selection (Morning Glory West, counterclockwise
loop) is a bit easier. The western side also offers the quickest connections to other trails
(Middle Earth to Chocolate Canyon and Western Legend).
On the eastern side of Morning Glory, there's a short alternate expert line called Morning
When making a clockwise ride, as you descend on Morning Glory West, the first trail fork 150
yards from the top is "Low Road" and is your connection to Western Legend. Turn right to stay
on Morning Glory. The next fork at mile 0.2 is Middle Earth. Again stay right. Middle Earth
will rejoin western Morning Glory just before it joins eastern Morning Glory at the stem of
View downhill on Morning Glory West. The tilt of the mesa allows views even when riding through the juniper forest.
A bit of challenge, rolling over the rockpile between these two slabs.
Middle Earth is 1.2 miles long. It has a very different "feel" from the mesa loops. There's
0.7 miles of brown mudstone and clay from upper Morning Glory West to the Chocolate Canyon
fork. This is followed by 1/2 mile of yellow rock and sandy soil down to lower Morning Glory
Middle Earth is expert-level riding both uphill and down. Most riders will choose to descend
it. There's 200 feet of elevation change over the 0.7 miles of upper Middle Earth, with a bit
of up-and-down riding.
From its origin on upper Morning Glory West, Middle Earth descends into brown clay layers on
the east side of the ravine called Chocolate Canyon. Here the eastern side of the Chocolate
Canyon loop will join on your left at mile 0.2. At 0.3 the trail turns hard to the right, while
the Chocolate DH trail keeps straight and drops down to the Chocolate Canyon trail.
Middle Earth then connects to the bottom of the Chocolate Canyon trail at mile 0.7 downhill
from Morning Glory West. Make a hard right turn here if you're continuing on Middle Earth.
The trail has now dropped below the Shinarump and is in the deep brown clay layers of the Chinle formation.
Looking north as Middle Earth climbs back uphill before joining western Morning Glory.
Middle Earth continues 1/2 mile downhill from the Chocolate Canyon trail fork, joining Morning
Glory West about 1/10th mile above the loop trail fork. If your objective is to complete another
loop, you can head uphill on Morning Glory West by forking to the right, or you can fork left
to continue downhill to the Morning Glory loop fork and the trailhead.
Heading uphill on brown clay and sandstone.
Chocolate Canyon separates the shinarump caprock of the First and Second Mesas of Tilted Mesa.
You can pass between these two mesas on Western Legend, or via the Chocolate Canyon loop.
The bottom of Chocolate Canyon is on Middle Earth, 0.7 miles from the top. It extends 0.6 miles
to the ridgeline, where if creates a 4-way intersection with Western Legend, Low Road, and
the Chocolate Connector back to Middle Earth.
Chocolate Canyon forms a full loop when you include that short (400 foot) portion of Middle
Earth. The loop is exactly one mile. At the top of the loop on the saddle between First and
Second Mesas, Chocolate Canyon meets the eastern end of Western Legend and the western end
of Low Road.
The Chocolate Canyon DH runs between Middle Earth and lower Chocolate Canyon. This DH is 0.3
miles long, dropping 100 vertical feet.
View downhill on the eastern side of the Chocolate Canyon loop. From here, we'll head over to Middle Earth.
Western Legend, Oh My Heck, Shinabump, Boom Chicken, The Matrix
Typical riding surface on Western Legend: Shinarump rock, plus or minus a dirt layer.
Western Legend is an expert-level trail on the western edge of Tilted Mesa. It extends from
bottom of the mesa to the far southern side above Chocolate Canyon. Then across the saddle
eastbound to reach Morning Glory.
To ride Western Legend, pedal up the doubletrack from temporary parking and fork to the right.
Cross the sagebrush flat to the western side of Tilted Mesa.
From the parking lot to the top of Oh My Heck on Western Legend is 1.5 miles with 400 feet
of climbing. With Oh My Heck, Western Legend can be done as a lariat loop in either direction.
At this time, it appears that most riders are using Western Legend as the climb, creating a
Looking north from the trail as it winds around during the climb.
Sample tech spot on Western Legend.
Although Western Legend is rated as an expert trail, most of the hard stuff falls within the
1/3 mile just above the lower Oh My Heck trail fork. A strong upper-intermediate rider can
do this trail by walking a few spots.
At mile 0.5 of Western Legend (0.2 miles above the Oh My Heck fork), an expert alternate line
called "Bump up the Jam" forks to the left. It rejoins after 1/10th mile. It's do-able either
As Western Legend reaches the southern cliffs, the Shinabump and Oh My Heck will fork away
on the left at mile 1.5 from the parking area. The left trail is Shinabump, the right Oh My
Heck. But if you continue straight and keep right, Western Legend will take you over to the
saddle, where you can link to Chocolate Canyon or climb up Low Road to Morning Glory on the
Looking downhill to the east on the alternate line called Bump up the Jam (mile 0.5 from the trailhead).
Bottom of Oh My Heck as it forks away from Western Legend.
Oh My Heck is a fun trail that begins and ends on Western Legend. Except for one short spot
of expert rock at the bottom, it's an intermediate-level ride. The trail is 0.9 miles long
with 200 feet of elevation change.
Oh My Heck runs along the western edge of Chocolate Canyon on the tilted layer of Shinarump
conglomerate. It can be done either direction.
Bouncing over some rough rock in the downhill direction. This is the area where Shinabump forks away.
Looking uphill on Oh My Heck. The trail can be done in either direction.
Most riders will ride Oh My Heck as part of a lariat loop ride that includes Western Legend.
An alternate descending path is to fork left off Oh My Heck onto Boom Chicken -- about half-way
down -- then join the lower part of Shinabump. Lower Shinabump descends back to Oh My Heck
just above its end on Western Legend.
Looking north downhill from Shinabump.
The Shinabump trail runs from upper Western Legend down to lower Oh My Heck. Shinabump is exactly
one mile long, with the same 200 vertical feet of elevation change as Oh My Heck. The trail
is two-way, and can be used as a climbing route.
Upper Shinabump is pretty mellow cruising, while the bottom half is bumpy riding on Shinarump
rock. When descending, there's a trail fork at mile 0.6. A left turn will take you 100 yards
to Western Legend. Here you can fork left for the uphill direction or right to head for the
Climbing Shinabump southbound.
Meandering through the shinarump conglomerate, northbound as we approach Oh My Heck.
If you keep right at the 0.6-mile fork on Shinabump, you'll meander through some fun rock for
another 0.4 miles. Shinabump will then end on Oh My Heck just above its fork with Western Legend.
The Matrix and Boom Chicken
The trail fork of White Rabbit from Oh My Heck, looking north.
The Matrix consists of three short double-black DH routes
accessed via the White Rabbit trail. The top of White Rabbit forks away
from Oh My Heck at mile 0.4 from the top -- 0.5 from the bottom.
White Rabbit is the longest of the DH routes at 1/10th mile
long. As you begin downhill on White Rabbit, you'll see first Red Pill then Blue Pill forking
away on your left. The drops on White Rabbit come just before it ties back
into Oh My Heck.
All three of the DH routes end on Oh My Heck, which
serves as your climbing route for doing laps. See the zoomed-in map of The
Matrix at the bottom of the page.
A view uphill on Oh My Heck, shortly after passing the Boom Chicken trail fork and heading up to the top for another go at the DH trails.
Red Pill has two expert-level drops in sequence that can be rolled. No air-time required.
Red Pill is 250 feet long, with a single set of
technical drops in the middle. All three of the DH options are fairly
straightforward -- just aim your bike downhill and recover once you reach
Blue Pill, the second DH off White Rabbit, is just short of 250
feet. It also has intermediate riding leading to a set
of high-expert drops in the middle of the downhill.
Blue Pill also has two drops around the middle of the trail, which you can roll.
View north when descending Boom Chicken.
b>Boom Chicken is a two-way trail that connects Oh My
Heck to lower Shinabump. It forks from Oh My Heck just uphill from the end of Red Pill.
Boom Chicken can
serve as quick access to The Matrix from below, or as a "quitting
time" exit. Boom Chicken is 0.2 miles long and is easier-intermediate
in tech requirement.
Trail system notes, fall 2023:
1. The new Tilted Mesa Trailhead is almost complete (with fences, gravel, and a bathroom) in fall 2023. Parking may be restricted when work is underway.
2. A new trail running between Morning Glory West and Morning Glory East is planned.
3. The anticipated trail extending west to Third Mesa (Cloud Walker and Third Mesa Loop) shown on previous maps will apparently NOT be constructed.
Rolling through a squeeze on Middle Earth.
Excellent trail system for experienced riders. Fun and scenic; fair amount of variety. This trail system is certainly
worth the trip to Kanab. Add Tilted Mesa to your plans.
Status of the trail system in June 2023.
Take US-89 eastbound from Kanab. Drive 9.3 miles from the traffic light
where US-89 and US-89A split apart. Pass the paved Johnson Canyon Road on
your left. Now go another 0.7 miles, cross Johnson Wash, and add another
1/10th mile. At exactly mile 10.1, turn to the right on a dirt road. Drive
south for one mile and turn left at the dirt road fork. 100 yards after
that turn, turn to the right on a smaller dirt road and immediately look for a parking opportunity.
Until the formal trailhead is built, you'll need to pedal up the sandy
doubletrack 200 feet to reach Morning
Glory on the left or Western Legend on the right 30 feet further up the
Zoomed view of The Matrix area. Oh My Heck will be your
uphill trail if you're doing laps. From the uphill end, White Rabbit is
the access to all three DH routes.
GPS tracks (R-click and Save as...):
for Tilted Mesa
Kanab area file
The Matrix latest update April 2023