The Turnpike Trail is a 4.4-mile trail along the hillside south of
Cedar City at 6000 feet elevation. It's early-intermediate or strong-beginner in technical
requirement. The climbing is mild and broken up by gentle descents.
The trail can be done as an out-and-back -- 8.8 miles round trip -- or as
part of a 10-mile upper-intermediate loop using Lava
Link (see below). If you're pressed for time, there's an option to return
Bruce pedals through
the junipers. Photos, video, and trail review July 23, 2019.
On the north end, Turnpike begins at the Southview trailhead.
There's a bathroom with running water, a bike repair stand, a privacy-screen
for changing clothes, and ample parking. On the paved Southview trail, go 100 yards until you cross the bridge.
Now turn to the right at the first singletrack after you cross the bridge.
On the south end, Turnpike has a trailhead on the gravel Shurtz Canyon
Road. This trailhead has a bathroom and large fenced parking area. In
summer 2021, a BLM campground is under construction at the trailhead. The trail begins eastbound at the break in the east side of the fence.
Heading out on the paved Southview trail. Turnpike is
about 50 feet past the bridge.
The Turnpike trail contours the hillside just a bit above
the valley floor. It's essentially a long traverse on the shoulder of the
hill. There will be a occasional turns here and there as the
trail gains or loses elevation. The total overall climbing for the 4.4 miles is
a bit under 400
vertical feet (each way).
Typical trail terrain. Dry slope with exposed
boulders and low junipers.
There will be three of these gentle climbs, each one followed by a
descent. In either direction, the first climb is the longest one. If you're
getting tired, remember that the return trip will also involve three
climbs. There are no bail-out
options once you're on the trail. But once you do reach the opposite
trailhead, a road return is super-quick and easy.
Handlebar view southbound on the trail.
The terrain is mostly juniper, with the occasional pinion
pine. There's a stretch of sage brush around the middle of the trail. For
most of the trail, the spots between the junipers are occupied with rock
The southern half of the trail is more interesting, both
visually and riding-wise. You'll finally have some nice views of the valley
and some pretty cliffs to the east.
Drone view looking north as we pedal away from the
The trail spans the distance between the Southview and
Shurtz Canyon trailheads, but doesn't go anywhere else at this
time. Once you get onto Turnpike, there are no off-ramps or connecting
trails until you reach the opposite trailhead. (In the future, there will
be more trails in the area.)
There are a few rocks and
bumpy areas, but for the most part, the trail is easily done by an
Near the southern end of Turnpike, two trails connect on the
uphill side. At mile 3.4 from Southview -- 0.9 miles from Shurtz Canyon --
the Elevate trail forks away. This is a two-way
trail. At 0.5 miles from Shurtz Canyon the downhill-only Black
Ops trail joins.
Breaking out of the trees into a brush area. The
trail will end where the junipers meet the broad valley ahead.
Summer mornings are usually cool in Cedar City, but the
afternoons get very hot. The trees on Turnpike provide almost zero shade. Even though
the Turnpike trail isn't a lot of work, the length of a full out-and-back
ride can be a problem for beginning riders during the afternoon heat. Time
your ride intelligently.
Looking to the east on the southern end of the trail.
A very nice loop ride for strong intermediate or expert
riders uses Lava Link as a traversing trail on
the upper mountain. This loop works best in the clockwise direction. Start
at either trailhead. Turnpike will be the bottom half of the loop, going
northbound. At Southview, climb Lichen It and
take the first half-mile on Lava Flow. Veer uphill and a bit left onto
Lava Link at the four-way. At the south end of Lava Link, descend Black
Ops back to Turnpike! This loop is 11.2 miles when done from the
Shurtz Canyon trailhead.
Shurtz Canyon trailhead at the southern end of the
Not a high-voltage trail but a pleasant way to get a decent amount of
trail miles without working too hard. Quite easy to ride, both
technically and aerobically. Beginners will enjoy this ride. Experts can
hammer this trail 45 minutes each way, so they'll want to combine Turnpike
with other trails in the Iron Hills area.
A cruise on Turnpike...
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Getting there: 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 at N37 38.699 W113 04.894. 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 trail is on the
east side of the parking area.
Bathrooms: Southview and Shurtz trailheads
Repair stand at Southview trailhead
Water: Southview only, at sink in bathroom
Camping: None yet. There is a BLM campground under construction at
Shurtz Canyon, right at the bottom of the Turnpike trail (recommend Three
Peaks for now)