Circling Navajo Lake On My Mountain Bike
This is the third page telling of our day in the Navajo Lake area. To learn about our incredible morning hike please click Cascade Falls. To return to the previous page please click Virgin River Rim Trail.
Just after I left my lunch spot the trail cut down some wicked switchbacks to another flattened ravine, just like the one Cascade Falls Parking lot lay in. I knew this drop meant I would be climbing just to get back onto the mesa. This time the climb wasn’t quite as harsh as the first one. I rode the whole climb, no problem.
Riding to the Lake
Once back on top of the mesa the trail went away from the Virgin River Canyon Rim … angling northeast toward the north end of Navajo Lake. I am not sure I have had more fun on any stretch of trail anywhere, than the piece that drops down to the lake. Like angling across the bottom edge of a ruffled curtain, the trail swooped in and out of small ravines, always going my favorite direction … slightly downhill. I hated to see the pavement of Navajo Lake Road, which told me all the fun was about to end. And it did.
The road down toward the lake was only slightly smoother than the trail coming down from the rim. I entered the Te-Ah campground on the left, hoping there would be a trail out of the bottom of the campground straight to the lake. There wasn’t. I had to ride back up to the entrance to the campground, hit the highway, and ride farther down the highway. But where was the turn off? I saw no more turn-offs as I approached the west end of the lake. Had I gone brain dead and ridden right past the sign?
Navajo Lake Interactive Map
I have created the following map for the Cascade Falls Hike and my ride around Navajo Lake. The purple segment represents the hike (you will have to zoom in to see it) while the orange shows the track of the Navajo Loop ride. The Blue “P” marks the trailhead for both the hike and the ride.
Have you biked in this area before? What did you think of it? Share your story with us and other visitors to this page here.
Rounding the Lake
After starting to round the lake in the wrong direction I realized I must have missed the turn. Riding back up the road I found a nice big sign showing the turn-off. I went back up the road past the turn-off and looked to see if I had missed the sign coming down … but no there was no sign … time to contact the sign police.
The dirt road led around the lake to trailhead parking. Some people were loading some bikes into a van. Right in the middle of the parking area … right in front of the trail was a burnt up pile of black logs. I am not sure why people do things like that. A fire … right in the middle of the trailhead?
The trail along that lake started out as a double track through grass but soon turned into a nice single track through aspens. Both types of trails were a little different than I had expected. Being so close to a campground I thought I would find a ragged path, with side trails heading to the water’s edge every 20 feet or so, trash, fishing line, beer containers, initials carved in the bark of trees. Amazingly, I found none of that.
The slim trail, winding along the edge of Navajo Lake … took me along at about 30-feet above the shoreline. There were a few boats out fishing and the water was glass. The trail climbed away from the shore a couple of times only to drop back down to the 30-foot distance. I was looking down trying to see the concrete wall that lay underneath the water when I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye.
As I looked up I slammed on the brakes to avoid running head long into a biker coming the other way. I instantly recognized the bikers face … Jens … the fellow I had met earlier in the day. It felt so good to see him so I could apologize about not giving him my email address. We talked for a good 3 minutes as we looked for a pen and paper to write with. I hated to see them go again but we all had to get going to finish our rides.
Just a quarter mile more and I found myself cruising across lava as I started to cross the dam that nature had built thousands of years ago. It seemed strange to think this rock has been there for all these years and yet not much has put down roots and started to grow. I took some photos that showed the drastic contrast between the marvelous alpine lake surrounded by conifers and aspens on one end … and that dry desolate shore of rock on the other. This end of the lake kind of reminded me of the Big Island of Hawaii.
The trail climbs up onto the dam, drops back near the shore, then climbs once again … this time leaving the lake and heading off toward the paved road. For some reason the lava away from the lake supports a lot of vegetation. I guess the lava dam must have been more recent than the lava bed between the dam and the road.
When I reached the road I looked at my watch which read 4:00. I was going to meet Cindy at 5:00 in the Cascade Falls parking lot. So I had a decision to make. I had told Cindy I would be riding back to the Cascade Falls parking lot via the road we had taken out there that morning. But the trail I was on crossed the paved road and went back up onto the ridge where it reunited with the Virgin River Rim Trail.
I knew I could ride back up there and go south on the Virgin River Rim Trail and easily make it back to the parking lot in less than an hour. That ride would be so much better than the 15 minutes of down hill on the road. Then I started to think, What if I have a flat out there and I don’t get back in time? Then she would worry. What if I crashed out there and needed help? She would think I was somewhere else because I had not told her I was going to go there. So I decided to do the boring 15-minute road ride and then just look out over the canyon for the other 45 minutes until she got there.
Just after I had ridden into the Cascade Falls parking lot and had used the bathroom Cindy pulled up in the car.
“Sorry I am a little late. I hiked up above the lake on the Virgin Rim Trail and I underestimated how long it was going to take me to get back here.”
I responded with, “Late? You are not late! You are 45 minutes early!”
Cindy smartly asked, “Did you ever reset your watch when we came into Utah (which was 3 days ago)?”
A sudden thought came into my head. “Ah … no, I don’t think I did. So you mean it is 5:15 right now?”
She said, “Yes!” My next thought was … “Boy was I glad I hadn’t gone back up to the Virgin River Rim Trail to ride back here … I would have arrived approximately a full hour late and been in a whole lot of trouble for that oversight!”
To view all my videos go to my YouTube channel at MountainBikeDiaries.
To return to the first page please click Cascade Falls.
To return to the second page please click Virgin River Rim Trail.
For a summary of all rides in the area please click Brian Head Mountain Biking.