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Dino Cliffs and Church Rocks loop

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 3.0 from 1 vote
  Intermediate from 1 vote
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Rank: #8 in Southwest Utah - St. George, Hurricane, Gooseberry Mesa
#44 in Utah
#802 Overall
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“Mostly easy slickrock with beautiful vistas and even a few dinosaur tracks thrown in.”
Kevin Christopherson on Sep 22, 2013
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9.4 Miles 70% Singletrack 728’ Ascent -727’ Descent 2,967’ Low 3,355’ High
Overview
This ride is part of the Prospector/Church Rocks/Dino Cliffs trail network. It's fairly easy slickrock and singletrack riding. Some of it is not clearly marked, but the loop is definitely worth some path finding effort. Be sure to look for the dinosaur tracks about six miles into the ride.
Description
This is a great loop with with lots of slickrock, and can be linked with Prospector for a longer ride. You can ride it year round. This is a good "sampler" of southern Utah trails.

There is no sign marking the trailhead at Highland Park, but it's easy to find. Leave the Highland Park parking lot, and follow the paved road (Horizon Parkway) a short distance northeast as it wraps around the park until the pavement ends. Pass the large boulders blocking the end of the paved road, and ride onto some old cement.

The singletrack starts just past the cement. After 0.8 miles the singletrack crosses doubletrack going west through an open gate. Just after you pass through the gate take the singletrack on your left and follow it the short distance to a rocky descent. That trail goes downhill to a large tunnel that takes you under the I-15 freeway.

A section of the trail upstream of the tunnel was recently washed away by a flash flood. Experts can still ride this section, for everyone else, simply hike-a-bike about fifty feet up the wash until you hit the singletack. Stay right at the first intersection. The fun starts here. There's short climbing and descending on classic Utah slickrock as you follow the signs counter-clockwise around Church Rocks. Take time to enjoy the views.

I prefer to ride the Church Rocks trail clockwise and "figure-eight' it to get to Dino Cliffs, but I mapped it here counter-clockwise because it's easier for new comers to follow to the Dino Cliffs connection. The figure-eight option is not too hard to figure out if your study the map. Both ways are good.

As you drop down the last long slickrock section on Church Rocks (mile 3.3) stay right and veer up the wash (west). Branch off of Church Rocks and climb the relatively steep hill to the left (south). After cresting the hill, turn left at the intersection and then right down the south side of the hill. This is a short section of the Prospector trail. About half way down the hill (mile 4.0) look for the singletrack that branches to the right. It climbs onto a sandstone ledge. Follow this for about a half mile and then cross a doubletrack.

Look for the Dino Cliffs sign and singletrack that climbs the hill across the road. Follow this trail for about a mile (mile 5.2) and you'll see a short connector trail that continues straight. This trail is now marked "closed", but is still used by hikers and bikers that want to avoid the sandy hill climb. Turn right and try your skill climbing the sandy hill. Look for the dinosaur tracks on the slickrock in the wash bottom before the sandy hill.

I make the climb on good days, and I walk it on others. At the top of the hill, cross the fence, go left and make your way back to the Grapevine trailhead on the doubletrack that follows the fence line. At the trailhead go north through the gate (mile 6.6) and up the doubletrack for about 0.3 miles. Watch for the singletrack on your right. There is a trail sign for the Grapevine trail. Turn right just before this sign and follow it back under I-15 (Of course, as an alternative you could simply continue back to Church Rocks on the Grapevine trail and return to your vehicle from there. That is not how I mapped it here.).

There are three tunnels here. Immediately after passing through the third tunnel, make a right turn up the hill and wind around and above the tunnel (clover leaf fashion) and go north onto the doubletrack road (mile 7.3). Follow this doubletrack and skirt the fence to the right. Continue heading north toward the hill with the water tank. Take the first doubletrack climb up the hill and hop back onto the singletrack back to Highland Park.

You can also access this ride from the Grapevine trailhead or by parking near the Maverick convenience store just off the Washington Parkway exit on I-15.
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COMMENTS
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PHOTOS of Dino Cliffs and Church Rocks loop
 4.0 from 3 votes
Be courteous to other trail users. (Washington, UT)
 3.7 from 3 votes
This pic speaks for it's self. (Washington, UT)
 3.3 from 3 votes
A little urban riding thrown in. (Washington, UT)
 3.3 from 3 votes
Entering the tunnel from the downstream (south) side. (Washington, UT)
 3.0 from 3 votes
Making the hard left turn. You eventually climb up onto the sandstone c... (Washington, UT)
 2.3 from 3 votes
The gate and Grapevine trailhead. (Washington, UT)
 2.3 from 3 votes
The third tunnel in the series near Washington Parkway. (Washington, UT)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Making the hairpin turn and tough climb from Church Rocks to Dino Cliffs. (Washington, UT)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Spring flowers, singletrack, and Church Rocks (north) in the background. (Washington, UT)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Intersection where Dino Cliffs branches off from the Prospector trail. (Washington, UT)
 2.0 from 3 votes
Trail begins where road ends northeast of Highland Park. (Washington, UT)
 2.0 from 3 votes
The trail junction for the singletrack leading under I-15. (Washington, UT)
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