Wow, such fun riding! Gooseberry Mesa mountain biking is quite technical, but for those who crave technical trail (and slickrock!) riding here is hard to beat.
Chris & Mac
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Length: 17.76 Miles in Trail System
Trailhead(s): Gooseberry Trailhead, White Trailhead, and Windmill Trailhead
Elevation Gain: Minimal and Varies with Chosen Route
Trail Type: Trail System
Difficulty: Beginner* to Advanced
Permit Required? No
Considerations: Slickrock Riding, *Mostly High Intermediate to Advanced Trails, Rough Road Entry, Desert Riding, No Water Available
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Wow, such fun riding! Gooseberry Mesa mountain biking is quite technical, but for those who crave technical trail (and slickrock!), the riding here is hard to beat. And the scenery . . . Amazing! This is a location you will want to mountain bike (or hike) again and again.
The Gooseberry Mesa mountain biking trails are not long in terms of mileage, but due to the technical difficulty of the trails, the system’s 17.76 miles of trail will give you more than enough mileage for a day of riding. The system has only one beginner trail, which is just a jeep road, but seven intermediate, three expert, and one double black diamond trail. Riders should be aware that these trail ratings are relative to the southern Utah area which has highly demanding trails. As such, you will find that an intermediate here could well carry an expert rating elsewhere in the country – so be careful and use good judgement in assessing your skills relative to the trails.
Due to the difficulty of the trails and the uniqueness of slickrock riding, the managers of this trail system have designated a Practice Area so you can get your feet wet before hitting the main trails. I recommend you start here. I have ridden slickrock numerous times in the past, but it had been a while. Despite my past experience, I found it took a bit of riding to re-acclimate myself to the slickrock. The Practice Area is fun to ride, so you will enjoy the practice time you spend and it will help prep you for what is to come.
Although there is certainly some dirt singletrack in the system, most of the trails are built on slickrock. To mark the paths, the trail builders used white dots and arrows so you can follow the trail. By nature, slickrock is kinda a free-for-all because there is no ribbon of dirt to follow. But don’t worry, if you keep your eye on the white marks (which can be a little tricky here), you will not get lost.
The intermediate trails, including the Practice trail, are fun to ride and are filled with scenic views. The expert trails, however, are awesome. My favorite was the South Rim trail. Have no doubt, it is demanding and is a true expert trail, but if you have the skills make sure to ride it.
The South Rim trail is only 5.4 miles long, but due to its technical nature it will feel like 10 miles. During those 5.4 miles, the trail takes you across the mesa through a prehistoric landscape with plenty of tech, short, punchy climbs and drops, and along the amazing south rim overlooking the desert hundreds of feet below. At its end, you will come to the Gooseberry Point trail, don’t miss this either.
The Gooseberry Point trail is short at only .4 miles. It is also rated as a double black diamond. It is very technical to ride and one spot, in particular, is pretty scary, but once you reach the end you will be blown away. The trail terminates at the furthest point on the mesa, with incredible views. I would avoid riding this trail if you have any doubts about your skills. If you don’t mind a .8 mile round trip hike, however, many people leave their bikes at the beginning of the trail and hike out to its end to take in the views – which brings up one final point about the system.
The Gooseberry Mesa trail system can also be hiked. In fact, it is designed as a multi-use. Why does this matter to a mountain biking article? Because not all in your group may have the skills to mountain bike here. Those that don’t can hike the system and enjoy the same views and prehistoric landscape as those who ride it. I always see this as a bonus for any system, because it allows everyone to have a good time.
Bottom-line: Gooseberry Mesa mountain biking is amazing! I thoroughly enjoyed riding here and would rank it up there with the other must-do trail systems in North America. If you are in the area and have the skills (or just want to hike), don’t miss it. You will not be disappointed.
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Gooseberry Mesa Slideshow
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