Gooseberry Mesa Mountain Biking

Having done two walks in Utah’s forty degree plus heat (Celsius)  over the previous two days (Taylor Creek Trail & Northgate Peaks Trail) we felt ready for some serious punishment and after speaking to some local bike shops in Springdale we drove off into the wilderness in search of some top mountain biking.

The Road to Gooseberry Mesa

The Road to Gooseberry Mesa


I rode two trail systems that day, first up the Virgin Dam trails. We arrived at noon and it was scorching hot, forty-three degrees of arid dry heat. Renee had the good sense to just do a short ride along the canyon edge before calling it a day. I rode sections of both the Hurricane Rim Trail and the Jem Trail before returning to the van. I’d drank two litres of water while riding  for less than an hour but still returned exhausted, dehydrated and with a head ache. So incredibly hot!

Tip: If you end up exploring Utah during the summer try and time physical activities to dawn and dusk.

Renee on Canyon Edge (Virgin Dam Trailhead)

Renee on Canyon Edge (Virgin Dam Trailhead)

Sam on Canyon Edge (Virgin Dam Trailhead)

Sam on Canyon Edge (Virgin Dam Trailhead)


We drove to get air flowing through the van. We headed to Gooseberry Mesa, home to some world class mountain biking trails. Initially I didn’t know what a mesa was but soon figured it out when our directions took us to a plateau like land formation. According to the dictionary they’re less extensive than a plateau but share the same characteristics of steep walls and a relatively flat top, common in arid landscapes like Utah.

By the time we reached the Gooseberry Mesa trail system car park I was feeling better and it had cooled down slightly. While the Virgin Dam trails were mostly fast single track dirt trails, Gooseberry Mesa was a lot more technical. Mostly on slick rock, constantly up and down boulders and in/out of rock formations. Fun riding combined with some stunning scenery.

Gooseberry Mesa Cliff Edge

Gooseberry Mesa Cliff Edge

Gooseberry Mesa - Through the rocks

Gooseberry Mesa - Through the rocks

Mountain Biking Gooseberry Mesa Collage

Mountain Biking Gooseberry Mesa Collage


I’ll talk more on America’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands at a later point, essentially they’re ‘public use’ areas and so long as you don’t disturb the environment you are mostly free to camp. Gooseberry Mesa falls into BLM domain so after mountain biking till sunset we simply drove out of the mountain biking car park and into one of many inconspicuous pull offs right on top of the mesa. We parked underneath a tree (morning shade) barely five metres from the abrupt mesa edge and settled down for the night – food/beer…

I can’t emphasise enough how amazing this location is; on top of a mesa with nobody else around. No light pollution meant the perfectly clear sky showed stars right down to our horizons and the only sounds were our own. If it weren’t for the fact we’d drank 90% of our water that day I’d have loved nothing more than to camp up there for a week.

Want to see more of our Great North American Road Trip?
– The Plan
– Map showing Posts by Location

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  1. Hi, saw your invitation on blog zone on linkedin. Here I am. Very nice travel site. Great photos and video a plus. And as they say, content is everything. You have great content. Keep up the good work.

    Friend of mine took a job in Utah and moving there in January. My intentions are to make a visit to Utah next summer and a mesa bike ride is on my list of things to do and write about on my blog.

    Check it out when you get a chance:

    I’m just starting out and having fun.

    • Thanks for visiting. Utah has so much outdoor ‘stuff’ to do, you’ll be hard pressed to decide what to do with your time.

      In roughly a week I’ll have a post up on mountain biking in Red Canyon (just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park) which in some ways I preferred to Gooseberry Mesa. Red Canyon was less technical, so faster riding. Then there is also Moab, famous for mountain biking…

      I’ll be following your blog on RSS, particularly like your 5 Places to Nap in Walt Disney World

  2. Wow- this is awesome. We don’t usually bike on our trips- mainly hiking but I’d love to do this bike ride. Well, maybe start off on something a little beginner friendly first and ease into it. Sounds like you guys had an awesome day.

    • It’s hard to carry a bike around with you while travelling. A road trip is one of those few opportunities. We really enjoyed having the bikes, not only for the mountain biking but for exploring cities and such.

  3. Sounds like a pretty nice bike ride, and the views are gorgeous! Did some biking in the desert in Chile this summer, and yeah we also realized that you do use a lot of water out there!

    • When I embarked on the first ride a guy was just returning (he did the smart thing and rode before it got really hot). He warned me that you’ll drink 3 litres in an hour. I didn’t really believe him, but I should have.

  4. WOW, what an incredible view! What an adventure!

  5. Jenny Sophy says:

    This what you call adventure, road trip!

  6. Hello would you mind stating which blog platform
    you’re using? I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  7. Dean Read says:

    A group of friends are doing a self-supported bicycle tour of the North Rim in late July. It’s a loop from Page AZ. The last day would take us from Lees ferry back to Page via Rt 89. That route is obviously closed and the detour would add ~115 miles, which we don’t have time to do. Someone mentioned the House Rock Rd which goes from 89a in Marble Canyon to 89 in UT, between Kanab and Page. I think it is ~35 miles. I am trying to determine a) how long it is, and b) if it is a good enough road for loaded touring bikes to ride without killing ourselves or our bikes.