Gooseberry Mesa and Thunder Mountain (Utah)

Gooseberry Mesa – MTB-Playground in Southern Utah
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Gooseberry Mesa is a table top mountain or high plateau close to the Zion National Park and is like a mountain bike playground with lots of slickrock riding.  There are various options to combine the trails at the South Rim, North Rim and Hidden Canyon in any direction.  You just have to follow the white dots up and down the rocks.

The ride on Gooseberry Mesa is hilarious and surprising, as the dots lead you up and down in a way you would not guess.  The ride is basically on the same altitude and the distance is rather moderate, however, the countless short but steep climbs make it quite strenuous.  Depending on the route you can easily spend 2 – 4 hours with rock hopping in this MTB-Playground.  To get to the trailhead from Rockville a car with higher clearance is recommended on the bumpy, unpaved road.

Thunder Mountain Trail (near Bryce Canyon, Utah)
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The Bryce Canyon Nation Park is spectacular.  On the close by Thunder Mountain Trail you ride through a similarly stunning landscape with red sandstone pillars and hoodoos.  When I was riding across the one of the ridges my senses just got overwhelmed by the views and the effort of keeping the balance on the exposed trail with wind gusts.

The trail is mostly smooth with packed sand and gravel surface and can be done as a loop or as out back.  As a loop it is best done in clockwise direction, so a part of the climb is on a paved bike path from the Red Rock Visitor Center and on a forest road that ends on the Coyote Hollow Parking Lot.  Because of the scenery, I recommend to ride the trail as out and back starting from the lower trailhead.  Thus, you can enjoy the stunning views from different angles and have fun on the downhill with some demanding steep switchbacks.  If you are in the Bryce Canyon area this trail is an absolute must.

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