Coal Camp Trail is accessed from South Canyon's upper trailhead parking area, complementing a climb up Tramway Trail
, by offering more mileage before descending down Lightning Bug
. The terrain just west of the parking area is a box canyon with steep rocky side walls to the north and west, and steep forested hillside to the south.
The first 0.4 miles is a very easy beginner climb that accesses the Lower Coal Camp Descent
. Known as the Lower Coal Camp Loop, this provides just shy of a 1.0 mile loop from the upper trailhead parking area. The loop is easy enough, quick enough, fun enough to pull off a couple laps before descending Lightning Bug
The trail continues to climb south of the Lower Loop on steep north facing slopes through an impressive dark timber forest. The trail is two-way at this point, downhill users yield to uphill traffic. You'll get a real workout on this trail as it offers some of the steepest grades anywhere in the system.
When you encounter the Upper Loop, take a right to start the counterclockwise journey. The climb continues, with occasional hints of the views to come when passing through scrub oak terrain. At the very top you'll find a flat area to relax while enjoying views of the upper South Canyon drainage, Horse Mountain, the Flattops, and even the Roan Plateau in the distance. You can technically descend the climb you came up, but please yield to the climbers.
Dropping into the downhill direction only part of the loop, you'll be distracted by the big views, and find plenty of optional drops, doubles, and other natural features. This is a very remote area, remember to pre-ride and re-ride before attempting any optional features.
While the upper descent is over too soon, descending the two-way middle part of the trail is still great fun. In fact the good times don't let up as you play your way down the Lower Coal Camp Descent
, Lightning Bug
, and the lowest stretch of Tramway Trail
on your way back to the Colorado River.