Hurricane, UT: Part 3, Gooseberry Mesa
***Disclaimer: This report summarizes some adventure shenanigans from November, 2019. We hope this three-part article provides a little mental escape during these crazy and uncertain times. Thanks for reading and please stay safe out there…
Like most mountain bikers, our first stop when we get to a new town on a road trip is the local bike shop. In most cases these are the folks with the inside knowledge and if you play your cards right, you can sandbag a shop ride to get a first hand sample of the goods.
Just so happened that we were able to score a tour of Gooseberry Mesa in exactly this way. Our #vanlife dirtbaggery was in full swing when we decided to loop back to Hurkin for a few more days of riding after getting our tourist vibe on in Zion. As luck would have it we rolled into town just in time for the OTE Hurricane Saturday morning group ride. We were also lucky enough to have OTE’s owner / operator Quentin at the helm on this ride.
Quentin’s attained somewhat legendary status in these parts, not only as owner of the coolest shop in Utah, but also as a super accomplished rider, and more importantly, as a guy who’s pushing hard to grow the local MTB scene and get more butts on bikes. He’s also a guy with an infectious smile and skills on a bike that are, in a word, enviable.
Anyway, our humble pack assembled at the shop and caravanned up the hill to the Gooseberry Mesa proper. Along the way, Quentin regaled us with tales of Red Bull Rampage glory, (selling Andreu Lacondeguy the winning shoes in 2014, last minute wheel and tire swaps for Kurt Sorge ahead of his wins, and a host of other nerdery) that kept us enthralled all the way to the trailhead.
The terrain high atop Gooseberry is somewhat reminiscent of the Slickrock Trail in Moab, yet at the same time, totally different; short punchy climbs with point-and-shoot sniper descents being the order of the day. But riding here with some seasoned vets is key — hands down the best part of the ride were the “side hits” that hid in plain sight and the insiders know by heart.
Gooseberry is a creative rider’s paradise but proceed with caution: getting off line could get you lost in very short order. Landmarks abound but it’s a vast and very wide open space so unless you know exactly what you’re doing, you’re best to follow the little white trail blazes. That said, following a local will up the fun factor but might prove harder than you might think as they pump and double their way through the moonscape.
Pro tip: if you’re coming from VT or anywhere in the northeast, the arid climate is quite literally going to suck the moisture right out of you. It was not excessively hot on the day we rode but I plowed through a full hydration pack as well as the spare bottle I had on my bike…like halfway through the 13 mile ride.
Just like the Jem trails, the views atop Gooseberry are simply jaw dropping — the mesa itself stands about 1000 vertical feet above town and drops in very dramatic fashion straight down in some spots. It’s vast on a scale that’s hard to comprehend and pictures simply do not do it justice.
So if you’re looking for an off-season escape, I’d put Hurricane on the list. With a TON more trails in Hurricane and nearby St. George of nearly every flavor and variety, it’s worth the trip. Factor in the views and off-bike activities and this place is tough to beat…