GOOSEBERRY MESA ESCAPE

Recently spent some time camping at one of my favorite mountain biking destinations, Gooseberry Mesa just outside of Hurricane, Utah. The early November trip surpassed expectations with clear skies and weirdly mild temperatures. The vest, tights and long-sleeve jerseys never came out of the gear bag. Even the nights around the campfire required no more than sweatpants and long-sleeve T-shirts.

THE RIDING
Got to admit that jumping on the South Rim Trail is getting a bit too challenging for this old man. That one needs to be worked up to and the best way to do that is to start on the Windmill Trail (on the far northeast section of the mesa). Ride the Windmill Trail west to the Practice Loop (mix in some Bowl and Ledges if you feel confident) and you will start to become acclimated to the “torque trials” riding technique needed for the black-diamond segments of the Goose. I had much better luck tackling Hidden Canyon and the North and South Rim trails after warming up on the other trails.

If you have never ridden the Goose, start at the Practice Loop to get a feel for the place. And don’t let the name fool you, most riders will still find a few sections on the Practice Loop that will make you pucker.

The Mesa offers great dispersed camping and there is a lot of it. A single toilet is the extent of the area’s amenities. No showers or trash collection. You need to pack out what you bring in. That said, it is one of the cleanest campsites you’ll visit.

There are two yurts on the Goose that can be rented by clicking here. If you are not into camping and don’t want to drive back to Hurricane every night, this is a sweet option. The view of the Red Bull Rampage mountain is from the yurts’ front yard. The Windmill Trail is just outside the yurt’s door.
Most employees want to get away from work when they vacation. Not the Rim Tours crew. Rim Tours guides were treated to a weekend at Gooseberry Mesa (including catered gourmet meals) for a stellar year of guiding riders in Moab, Utah. Guess I picked a good weekend.
My trusty Pivot Mach 429 Carbon handled the Goose perfectly. A long-travel trail bike is probably overkill and a hardtail cross-country racer is too minimal, but I’ve seen both being ridden on the Goose with successful results. I want to try plus-sized tires on the Goose.
Long-time buddy, Steve Wood, accepted my invitation to sample the Goose. He drove from Colorado and was not disappointed.

 

Gooseberry Mesa is surrounded by interesting destinations (Zion National Park being the most famous). After riding all morning, I’d hop on the Honda and explore. The Grafton ghost town, just outside Rockville, Utah, is worth checking out. Don’t attempt Smithsonian Butte Road (from Gooseberry) on anything less than a jeep, ATV or dual-sport motorcycle. The downhill is gnarly.