Church Rocks … Red Slickrock Abounds
The riding buddy I’d met in Brian Head (Jens) recommended I tour the Church Rocks Trail if I got the chance. I thought I would have to wait until Spring Break in order to do any rides in southern Utah due to the excessive heat of the summer. He suggested I could do the Church Rocks Trail if I got started early in the morning as it was at most a two hour ride. By 8:15 we had finished the first half of the ride. The skies were overcast and the air temperature was quite pleasant. To go back to this first part of this ride (and view the Church Rocks Trail Tunnel Video) please click Church Rocks (page 1).
CHURCH ROCKS TRAIL INTERACTIVE MAP
- Below you will find a map for Church Rock Trail.
- Click the green or red balloons for driving directions to the trailhead(s).
- Click Tracks or Icons for Specific Info.
I had just finished riding through the Church Rocks Trail Tunnel and was trying to catch up with Jens and Holly (his dog).
A quarter mile up from the tunnel I found Jens waiting for me in the crease between two slabs of red sandstone. Holly was running around sniffing different spots. Jens said he was going to let her run while we rode, and then got on his bike and lead out… Holly trotting right behind.
I asked Jens why these were called Church Rocks. He said he was not sure but figured one of these rocks must have looked like a church to the Mormons? “So why is it,” he asked, evidently thinking I knew the answer and was quizzing him. “I didn’t know either.” I told him.
Then I asked him if he knew why this county (Washington) was known as Utah’s Dixie (this one I did know). He said he didn’t know so I explained what I had read. Brigham Young told some of his followers to go down here and grow cotton. He said the area could be a perfect place to grow cotton since the conditions were just like those in the southern states (Dixie). The settlers tried hard to do as he wanted but failed. I don’t think old Brigham realized this area was a desert. Conditions: Hot… annual rainfall: 8 inches.
Even at 8:30 the sun sat low enough in the sky to be blinding. I wear sunglasses all the time, unless it’s almost dark. My eyes are real sensitive to bright light and my sunglasses are also safety rated. Jens wished he had worn his.
After lagging behind for photos, I came up to find Jens lowering his seat and watering Holly. Jens explained we were about to descend a big staircase drop… the only one on the Church Rocks Trail. He went first while I lowered my seat and took more pictures. I rode the whole way down and found Jens had already set off across the flat sandy area below the drop. I sped to follow him. At some point Jens said we should stop and raise our seats. I agreed, and we did.
We turned from the Church Rocks Trail back onto the Prospector Trail, and had just climbed out of the sand wash when we spotted a rider coming west from the Prospector Trailhead. I snapped a picture of the older fellow and told him, “I got you in a picture,” as he passed by. He stopped and immediately said, “There is a better picture in the post office.” I laughed and said something like, “You too?”
I asked him (Bob) where he was from and what he was up to. He said he lived just over the hill (4 miles away in Hurricane) and then he totally shocked us when he said he was… 66 years old! I told him I was 55 years old and hoped to still be riding at his age. Bob said he used to be out here riding every day but now he drinks a cup of coffee, reads the paper, and then decides if the weather will be too hot. I asked Bob if I could use his photo on the website to which he replied, “Absolutely.” Then he asked, “Don’t you want me to explain my chipped tooth?” Of course we said yes, and this is how his story went.
He said he and some buddies were riding the Green Valley Trail just to the south of town. He said we may not have heard of the trail but we surely had heard of the Green Valley Spa. I kept silent as I had never heard of either but Jens said he thought he knew where that trail was but he didn’t sound real sure. Bob said the Green Valley Area was not near as pretty as this place (Church Rocks Trail). Anyway, he said he was riding down the Green Valley Trail a couple years ago when he braked hard and his tires locked up. He had almost come to a stop when he came off his bike standing up but kind of in a run. He tripped and slid 20-feet head-first down the hill and planted his face into a boulder. They rushed him to the hospital and he had to get a full facial reconstruction.
We let him continue on his ride as we did also. As we cruised along the easy Prospector Trail I asked Jens if he had ever considered wearing a full-face helmet to prevent something like that happening to him. He said he had a full-face dirt-bike helmet and didn’t like the way it restricted his breathing… and since a mountain biker breathes a whole lot more than a motorcycle rider… he would never consider it.
He said he didn’t like wearing a bicycle helmet at all. He said bike helmets are built for ventilation and not for protection. He claimed his engineer training would not allow him to wear a helmet with oblong parts that could catch and twist the head while falling. The helmet he wears is a rock climbing helmet… smooth as a billiard ball.
The weather was just starting to warm up as we approached the Prospector Trailhead. Jens said he and Katherine had taken a lady for her first ride out here and she had gotten heat stroke. He said they were very surprised because the woman was in great shape and was tall and thin. He asked why it was that most heat-stroke victims were tall and thin … it didn’t make sense to him.
I said I didn’t know… I’d never even seen a person get heat-stroke, yet I agreed… a thin person should be able to dissipate heat better.
I started to feel a little sad as we packed up our bikes. I knew I would not be seeing Jens soon or maybe ever again. I told him how much I enjoyed being with him and to keep in touch. Who knows, maybe I’ll be back out here next spring to ride some more of these southern Utah trails. He said he would keep his tires pumped up.