The trip report. Your reporters are Rick, Jonathan, & myself......
Day 1 - Arrive in Hurricane (pronounced, of course "her-kkin"...). scope out the greater Hurricane metro-plex, stop by the local bike shop, meet up with Jonathan. Then headed up to Gooseberry Mesa to lay claim to a campsite.
Ride - Gooseberry Mesa, looped "Cattle Grate" to "God's Skateboard Park" to "South Rim" to "Hidden Canyon". Gooseberry is literally a maze of trails on the flat mesa top, with lots of quick power climbs up & over slickrock knobs. Lots of fun, with great flow. I would rate it far higher in fun factor than most of the Moab slickrock stuff (SlickRock or Bartlett Wash).
Rick on the Hidden Canyon Loop
Day 2 - Go for the "big loop"
Ride - Hurricane bench loop. "Hurricane Hill" to "Goulds Rim" to "J.E.M." to "Hurricane Rim". a 21 mile grin-fest on the "flats" above town. Sweet, rolling desert singletrack, well marked and a hoot to ride. "J.E.M." is just a SWEET downhill giggle maker of a trail. Lots of good views from the Goulds and Hurricane Rim trails. The view down into the dark, volcanic Virgin River Gorge form Hurricane Rim is worth he whole ride by itself.
Jonathan & Rick on the J.E.M. whoop-de-dos
J.E.M. trail from Dale Riley on Vimeo.
Day 3 - Get us some Guacamole
Ride(s) - "Guacamole trail" and more Gooseberry. "Guacamole" is probably in a tie for my favorite of the rides we did there. Nice mix of dirt and slickrock in an otherworldly setting of burnt-out Junipers, rolling around under a cool cinder cone and the Zion cliffs. These rides show up with less than 200 feet of elevation gain on the GPS, but have SO much quick power up & over the knobs, they can be quite "taxing" on those early-season legs. Mostly moderate technical moves on the slickrock, but plenty of bonus moves around, if you needed to get a bit more wild.
Zion Cliffs from "Guacamole"
Went back for a second helping on Gooseberry Mesa for the afternoon. "North Rim" to the end of the mesa, then "South Rim" back to "Hidden Canyon" for that afternoon sampler. "South Rim" has some pretty interesting moves on the rock, and gets RIGHT up to the rim, quite exposed in places. You can really feel the void right by your bars on this ride.
A little "Rim Shot" from Gooseberry
Day 4 - Little Creek Mesa and a third helping of Gooseberry pie.
Little Creek Mesa is the other ride I think is tied for my overall favorite down there. VERY remote feeling ride, great rim shots, and once again, great flow. All except for Rick breaking a spoke on a Mavic Crossmax, it was an amazing ride. For the afternoon Jonathan & I dumped Rick & his broken bike at camp with a beer (or 2...) for solace, then hit one more loop at Gooseberry. "windmill" was living up to it's namesake that afternoon, and finished up on "slickrock 101". That wind was harkening a change in the weather, which till then had been stellar.
Jonathan on the edge at Little Creek Mesa
That evening, the wind went nuts, and then by 3:00 AM, the skies had opened up, and we got a lovely lightning show to top off the pouring rain & hail. Got up and TRIED to make a run for it before the clay dirt road turned completely to soup. Sadly, a rental 2wd minivan had gotten out before us, and was stuck in the middle of the now 6" deep mud on a little hill. Some pushing from a few of us, along with throwing the tire chains out in front of the minivan managed to get them up to the top of the hill, where we could jump by them and finish our run for the pavement. After what seemed like miles of complete "pucker" driving to stay out of the ditch, with the Stability/Traction control on the new truck beeping and complaining for what seemed like half of that drive, we managed to get to the pavement without getting stuck and made a run for Hurricane and a warm, dry breakfast place.
Sadly, the only other weather we saw for the next 4 days was rain & snow. Drove back via Zion & Mt. Carmel Junction. Ended in a driving blizzard for a couple of hours in the "Dixie" hills up into Panguitch (So much for "spring"....). Had hoped to make a run for Fruita, beat the rain and get a couple of rides in there on the way back, but the rain followed us to Fruita and then all the way back home as it turns out.
The Gooseberry/Hurricane area lived up to it's reputation, and maybe a bit beyond. Great riding in a "compact and easily accessed area, and with very few riders. We saw ONE other rider on a 21 mile loop, and I think we only saw 15-20 other riders TOTAL for the 4 days, some from a LONG way off. Still has an "undiscovered" feel to the area. Bummed we got chased off by the rain, and could not get a little Fruita for dessert out of the trip, but mud is mud.
Fruita in the fall? Vernal? Hmmm......