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Trail of the Week: Barrel Roll

Barrel Roll is a popular single-track biking trail nestled just above the family farms that flank the southern side of the Santa Clara River. To find this trail, follow Santa Clara Drive west and turn left at Gates Lane, just across from the Jacob Hamblin Home. Turn right onto Clary Hills Drive and then make a quick left onto a dirt road that climbs the bluffs above Santa Clara. While the dirt road is rough in spots, high-clearance vehicles can easily navigate this hill which then drops you down to the fenced parking lot at the base of the Cove Wash Trailhead. Bikes, horses, and trail running are popular in these hills, so even on a quiet day mid-week you are likely to find other enthusiasts out enjoying the canyons.

Cove Wash Trailhead boasts several excellent trails, Barrel Roll being the most popular. Running parallel to Barrel Roll on the southwest is Sidewinder, which is a fun climb that can be added on to the beginning or end of this loop for a longer ride.

2.Looking out at adjoining trails

Although Barrel Roll is listed on the trailhead guide as 3.4 miles, my GPS tracked the whole loop to be closer to 6 miles. This loop can be ridden either direction, although clockwise is more popular. The aptly named Precipice trail, which flanks Barrel Roll on the southwest side as you ascend the loop clockwise, provides a more technical option for experienced riders to enjoy as they ride along the side of the canyon wall. It intersects with the main Barrel Roll trail just .8 of a mile up, at the top of the bluff. Novice riders or those who don’t enjoy heights should stick to the main trail.

Clearly marked signs designate trail directions, so finding your way through the loop isn’t challenging. The first segment of the trail is gradual uphill that provides a nice view out over the bluffs and eroded undulating canyons of the open BLM land. There isn’t much technical here, with just the occasional protruding sandstone or granite boulder jutting out to make things fun. At the top of this climb you encounter the best views of the route along with the most technical section.

8.Technical descent3

The section at the top of the bluff has a warning designation for technical difficulty, so be aware that it does feature technical challenges best suited for advanced or experienced riders. I refer to this section as the “Boulder Garden.” The multi-sized boulders that flank the trail make for some jagged drops and narrow, technical passages. A few tight spaces and sharp turns keep you on your toes. It is a beautiful area though, so even if you hop off your bike at this point, the terrain and views make it worth the walk. This section is fun to ride both up or down and it is a great spot for taking a quick photo. As you pass the Boulder Garden and head down into the canyon, the trail becomes navigable again with an intermediate level of boulder hopping and sandstone dodging. Plenty of pedal strikes can be seen on rocks as you ride by, so be ready to hop your way along. Barrel Roll offers plenty in the way of moderate riding, so the trail is never boring.

As you traverse the hillside back into Santa Clara, you can see Pine Valley Mountain rising above the green farms of Santa Clara, framing the red rock walls of Snow Canyon. It is a lovely view of Santa Clara and Ivins north to Pine Valley.

In all, Barrel Roll is a quick, intermediate course with some challenging but navigable obstacles, a few technical rock stunts, and great views. The trail can be ridden in about an hour, which makes for a great mid-week outing after work or a Saturday ride with friends. Additional trails like Precipice, Sidewinder and Suicidal Tendencies intersect with Barrel Roll if you are looking for a longer ride. The Suicidal Tendencies trail is exactly that — so opt for this one only if you are an experienced rider.

See you on the trails!

Link for helpful trail information:

Written by Kristen Nelson


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