Guacamole Trail … Southern Utah’s Best Mountain Bike Ride?
I did have to wonder about the name… Guacamole, the Mexican food made from an avocado?
Cindy and I arrived at Jens’ and Catherine’s beautiful house late on the first Saturday afternoon of Spring Break. We had stayed in Las Vegas Friday night so I could ride Blue Diamond Saturday morning. When I called Jens after finishing that ride he told me he had cooked some corned beef and he would have dinner waiting. I felt bad that we would be getting there so late but he said that was not a problem.
We sat and talked and enjoyed a wonderful meal that Saturday night. It was pretty close to midnight after they showed us around their beautiful new house and we got situated in our guest room. Thank goodness we would be able to sleep in on Sunday.
Upon rising, Jens and Catherine asked us what we would like to do that day. As we looked out their huge picture windows we saw snow gently floating down against a wall of steep snow shrouded peaks behind, I asked, “Would it be alright if we just stayed here, kept warm, rested up, and enjoyed the view.” “That would be fine,” Jens responded, “I do have some work to do on the computer… and we can do the Guacamole Trail tomorrow.” I told him that sounded perfect, and began to transfer files of my Blue Diamond ride from my GPS and various cameras to my Western Digital hard drive.
Monday was sunny, windy, and cool. As Cindy and I exited our guest room, Jens and Catherine were already getting ready for their favorite ride… The Guacamole Trail. They were both wearing biking pants, something I didn’t own. “Think it might be a little too cool for shorts?” I asked. Jens said they had started to wear pants on all of their rides… as protection against scrapes, bumps, and bruises. A 5-second stroll outside quickly told me I had to come up with something. I went back inside, put on my Nike nylon sweats, wrapped duct tape from my ankles to just below my knees, and pronounced myself ready to ride.
We put all three bikes (Cindy doesn’t bike, but loves to hike) in the back of Jens’ truck… an extended cab mini pick-up, and then piled ourselves in. Catherine, Cindy, and Holly (their white Schnauzer) were smashed into the back while Jens and I moved our seats as far forward as possible.
We drove into Hurricane but almost immediately made a left turn and headed out of town to the east. Eventually turning left onto a dirt road called Dalton Wash Road, which wound up a canyon (Dalton Canyon?) and over some pretty rough patches, we passed by a farm in a high valley, and climbed again.
As we were passing through a grove of junipers and pinion trees, Jens declared, “The Guacamole Trail looks pretty busy today.”
I quickly scanned the area and saw two, or maybe three cars. I thought to myself, if this trailhead were in San Diego County there would most likely be 40 cars! We couldn’t help but notice one whole group of people. A mom, dad, little girl, and two boys (maybe 10 to 12 year olds) came crawling out of a minivan, which appeared to be packed to the hilt, and began to get their bikes ready for Guacamole Trail. We would later learn their names and find out they were vacationing from Minnesota.
We drove a good 50-yards past the Minnesotans, pulled to the right, and stopped as Catherine said this was where they liked to park. Jens had trouble opening his door due to the brisk wind blowing from the west. None of us stripped off any of our clothing as we prepped our bikes. Holly went behind a tree to take care of business and Cindy prepared for her assault on petrified wood.
To help visualize the landmarks I talk about in the rest of this story, or to aid in your own ride on the Guacamole Trail, please enjoy this interactive, trail map. Click the Blue “P” for directions to this ride. Click the other icons for info on land-marks, both general and personal.
Have you ridden the Guacamole Trail before? What did you think of it? Share your story with us and other visitors to this page here.
Cindy loves fossils, geology, archeology, etc., and she became real excited when Jens told her the Guacamole Trail was covered with petrified wood. She then proceeded to research the legal aspect and found she would be allowed to remove up to 25 pounds. Jens told her she would have to walk a mile or so from the truck before she would start seeing it, so she set off before we were ready… in search of treasure.
Just before we left, I asked Jens if he thought Holly would be able to keep up for the entire 7+ miles of this ride? He said she had done the Guacamole Trail many times, adding, “She should have no problem.”
It made me think of how athletic animals were compared to humans. This dog, with legs no more than 6-inches long, was going to keep up with beings much bigger and stronger riding on sophisticated bikes!
The beginning of the Guacamole Trail was not real obvious. In one spot someone had spelled out the trail name with a few small stones in the middle of a slab of limestone. (I didn’t see the name until Cindy showed it to me upon our return from the ride). The trail set off across several flat slabs of limestone, marked only by a few little piles of rocks.
The rider always had to be alert as to where the next pile of possible ride-ending rocks might appear. After about a mile or so the trail crossed a dirt road and began to wind through trees and over intermittent rocks and sand. We caught up with Cindy just before we made the dirt road.
She can hike amazingly fast when she knows there are fossils waiting over yonder. But when she is in a museum or visitor center… now that is a completely different story, kind of like a slug crossing the road.
The farther we wound through the trees, the larger, and more frequent the pieces of petrified wood became. Looking mostly at the ground I was startled as I suddenly came upon a cliff edge with a sheer drop of 200 feet! The wind was blowing much harder at the cliff edge. I was even more pleased with my duct-taped nylon sweats at that point… not fashionable… but great wind-breakers.
Although the gusts were quite cold, I gained comfort knowing they were blowing from the west, directly toward the cliff, keeping us from going over the edge!
The Guacamole Trail left the cliff and continued to snake over and around boulders and trees, crossing an occasional pit of sand. Soon a large, gray, pointed mountain began to appear in the distance toward the east, the direction we were generally heading… growing larger with our efforts.
Jens said it was a cinder cone, which Cindy tells me is caused by volcanic vent blowing out small pieces of molten rock.
The cinder cone continued to grow as we headed farther and farther to the east (not because it was active… we were just getting closer). Suddenly Jens stopped me to show me something… a large boulder had a hollow cylindrical hole passing right through it.
Jens said he thought the rock formed around the tree, then the tree decayed and left the hole. I wished Cindy were there so I could get the most expert opinion in the world.
We were at the end of the Guacamole loop when we came across some young adult riders. We found out they were from Banff, British Columbia. Jens said he had tried another piece of trail heading farther east but did not recommend we or the Canadians do it.
After we had turned and ridden about a half mile back to the west we came upon the dad and boys we had seen prepping at their car. They asked which way they should go. Jens told them about doing the end of the loop as we had. The dad said they would give it a try… and we parted ways.
As I was cruising back along the same trail we had gone out on, Jen’s yelled to go left. I stopped and when he rode up he told me they liked to turn left; take a different way. Almost immediately after we turned we rode up on a large pool of water. I could tell Holly was getting ready to spring into the water so I quickly jumped off my bike and popped my still-photo camera out of its case. Just then the Canadians rode past us by the edge of the pool. I got some photos of the Canadians but… missed Holly’s pool entry.
I finally got a photo as she was standing with the water to her shoulders…from that I could tell the pool was about 8 inches deep. The fact she even entered the pool was another clear sign that dogs are a lot tougher than us humans. I tried to get one of those reflecting pool photos of the Zion cliffs to the northeast… but only caught images of small waves smashing on the rocks due to the gusting winds. I figured I’d have to return another day for a mirror photo.
A couple hundred yards past the pool and we were looking over another 200-foot cliff. Catherine declared it “snack time” and dug a bunch of oranges out of their pack. I had a difficult time peeling the one they offered me as the wind was in a small roar. We hunkered down into a crack between boulders to peel them. As I split mine open the juices leaked onto my bare hands and instantly dried into a thin, crackly crust. I put my gloves back on after eating, knowing that a little orange scent could only help their sweat-stained stench.
If the wind had been blowing the exact opposite direction I would have been worried about Catherine getting blown over edge… for she must only weigh 100 pounds or so (maybe a little more but I have learned that it is wise to always underestimate a woman’s weight).
After the snack we got right back on the Guacamole Trail… which follows along the top of the cliff, in some places no more than 5-feet from the drop-off.
We came upon Cindy at almost the exact same place we had passed her on the way out. She said she had gotten some good pieces and an especially nice one. I asked her where it was to which she said that it was back at the truck. Now she had accumulated another pile and Jens, almost always a gentleman, offered to put them in his empty backpack.
I accompanied Cindy as she headed back carrying some additional wood (must have been part of my 25-pound allotment). I took the opportunity to practice my biking skills on some of the more challenging ledges of limestone.
Not more than 5 minutes after we arrive back at the truck, the father and the boys rode up to the truck (Mom and sister had already returned according to Cindy). They stopped and we found out they were from Redwing, Minnesota. They traveled all the way to Utah to do some trail riding and here they were… doing it.
As we left, we stopped by their van and Jens gave them some advice as to how to spend the remainder of their vacation. We then headed back past the farm, through Hurricane, up the I-15 to New Harmony, where we relaxed (out of the wind) and planned the next day’s trek, Gooseberry Mesa!
So why was this ride called the Guacamole Trail? My trail guide (Jens) said, “I have no clue.” His local riding buddy (Ted) says it is because the trail is spread all over the place, like guacamole spread on a sandwich. Cindy said she read it was because the trail runs across a mesa that is always green, always the color of guacamole. My opinion? I think they call it the Guacamole Trail because all of the petrified wood we found used to be ancient avocado trees.
The following is a video of the ride just described. Holly, of course, is the star of the show! To watch the video on a full screen click the icon in the lower right corner just to the right of the YouTube emblem.
To view all my videos please go to my YouTube channel at MountainBikeDiaries.