A Quick and Dirty Guide to Brian Head Area Mountain Biking
While it may not get the attention of Moab or Park City, Brian Head Resort should be near the top of the list for any rider.
Utah is known for its iconic mountain biking destinations. But while it may not get the attention of Moab or Park City, Brian Head Resort should be near the top of the list for any rider. Located in the southwest part of the state, Brian Head is about a three-and-half-hour drive down I-15 from Salt Lake City, about a three-hour drive from Las Vegas and 80 minutes from St. George. While it has established a reputation as a well-loved (and crowd-free) ski destination with more than 360 inches of snow each year, Brian Head has also poured its energy into establishing one of the state’s best mountain bike parks once the white stuff has melted (Read: "Winter Mountain Biking in Southern Utah").
The Brian Head bike park was built in collaboration with Momentum Trail Concepts, and the enormous network of neighboring backcountry trails offer a mouthwatering spectrum of options for mountain bikers of any ability. You’ll be amazed to find more than 100 miles of downhill singletrack, as well as access to an additional 100 miles of cross-country trails. It’s become a destination in a state filled with incredible rides because of its mix of gravity-fed flow trails, technical singletrack and access to hundreds of miles of scenic backcountry. And unlike many of those other popular spots throughout the state, you mostly won’t find big crowds.
Whether you’re visiting the area for Brian Head’s seemingly endless bike options or making it part of a multi-stop Southern Utah adventure (Read: "Bikepacking Across the Aquarius Plateau") — Cedar Breaks National Monument is just five miles away — it’s a must-see for bikers of all abilities. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
"Brian Head has become a destination in a state filled with incredible rides because of its mix of gravity-fed flow trails, technical singletrack and access to hundreds of miles of scenic backcountry."
At an elevation of 9,800 feet, Brian Head is the highest town in Utah. That elevation might be a concern for some (definitely stay proactively hydrated), but perhaps not as much once you hear the area referred to as “Downhill of the Gods,” as it was by Outdoor Action Magazine. It’s home to the state’s largest bike park and has some of its best downhill riding, featuring 5,000-foot descents.
Of course, that also means you’ll want a ride to the top. Most mountain bikers start with the Giant Steps Express detachable high-speed quad chairlift, which will carry you to the top of Navajo Peak and all of Brian Head’s trail offerings. Lift access is available either through daily lift passes or a pass for the mountain bike season.
There are also multiple shuttle operators in Brian Head available to riders, including Brian Head Shuttle and Georg’s. Popular shuttle-accessible trails include Bunker Creek, Paradise Canyon and Dark Hollow. While the long, switchback trails (many with freestyle elements) get most of the attention, Brian Head does have something for everyone. Some of the top bets for each level of rider include:
Everyone has a first day, and Brian Head is an excellent place for those just getting into mountain biking. The Color Flow trail is specifically designed with beginners in mind and mixes easy flow and singletrack sections. With manageable beginner-level speed, lapping Color Flow will build both confidence and stoke. Regardless of your ability level, check out the free guided mountain bike tours, which depart from the top of the Giant Steps Express lift at 10 am, 12 pm and 2 pm daily.
Brian Head has many intermediate trails, including multiple jump flow runs. Consider Little Glitter and Tank’s Track for a variety of features like berms, jumps, rock ladders and hips. Many of the intermediate trails link up for seemingly endless run combinations.
Timberline is one of the country’s classic lift-accessed downhill laps. Continually tweaked and perfected by the Brian Head Park crew, this serious trail is perfect for those looking for flow, speed and unique features.
Expert: The Wildflower Trail is the most extreme option in the Brian Head Bike Park and the site of downhill races. Technical chutes, drops and an overall technical feel make this trail a destination for even the most hardcore downhill riders.
"While the long, switchback trails (many with freestyle elements) get most of the attention, Brian Head does have something for everyone."
Riding in the Backcountry
Brian Head’s lift-accessed options also connect with hundreds of miles of wild backcountry singletrack. The 2017 Brian Head Fire damaged many area trails, and the United States Forest Service is continually rebuilding and updating the trail network. Check with the resort or one of the local bike shops for the most up-to-date conditions. And remember to recreate responsibly and stay on designated routes and trails. (Read more on how to travel responsibly, a shared ethic called Forever Mighty.)
Speaking of bike shops, Brian Head offers a full-service bike shop at the base of the Giant Steps Express that offers bike rentals and full protection (helmet, knee/shin guards, elbow guards and gloves). There are basic and performance rental options to suit individual riders’ needs, and discount lift tickets are available with rentals. A three-hour mountain bike lesson is affordable at $30 for three hours. Other bike shops in the region include Brian Head Sports and Georg’s, where you can find additional rental and service options.
Off The Hill
There are a variety of food options at Brian Head. The Giant Steps Lodge offers quality food and drinks just feet from the chairlift for those lunchtime cravings. For dinner, the town of Brian Head doesn’t disappoint. The classic Last Chair Saloon is a great spot for a burger and beer after a long day on the trail. Pizano’s Pizza offers slices or custom whole pies, and Sook Jai Thai is the place to go for family-style curries and noodle dishes.
If you’re staying the night, lodging choices are plentiful at Brian Head. Alpine Lodging and Georg’s offer privately-owned condos, and the Cedar Breaks Lodge is within a few hundred yards of the lift. Parowan and Cedar City are both a short drive away and offer more overnight, dining and cultural options — as well as passionate locals who can point you to an array of additional trail systems that dot the region.
The mountain biking season generally starts in June and runs through the early fall. Even if you’ve never thought of yourself as a downhill mountain biker, this destination is worth the trip. The incredible views, well-maintained and creative trails and endless options will keep you entertained for days.
Bryce Canyon National Park
An alpine forest with as many red rock hoodoos as trees. At dawn and dusk, mule deer graze the forested plateau along the road into Bryce Canyon.
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Hidden within the mountains above Cedar City is the brilliant geology and vibrant environment of Cedar Breaks National Monument. The geologic amphitheater and surrounding environs are home to cool hiking trails, ancient trees, high elevation camping, and over-the-top views along the “Circle of Painted Cliffs.”
Dixie National Forest
This forest stretches for 170 miles across southern Utah. Visitors can experience its brilliant red spires and cliffs by car or by hiking one of the nature trails in the canyon.
3 Utah Bikepacking Routes for Beginners to Intermediates
Find a route for your next Utah bikepacking trip that promises immersion in history, culture and ridiculous scenic beauty.
6 Steps to a Family MTB Trip on Canyonlands' White Rim
Want to take the family mountain biking on the White Rim Trail? Tackle 100 miles of biking and three days of backcountry camping in Canyonlands with the kids.
A Family Bike Tour of Salt Lake’s East Canyon
East Canyon has always been a path for travelers, from the Donner Party to Brigham Young to the Pony Express. In this modern-day tale of travel, a family of three takes on East Canyon by bicycle for a weekend camping trip. They discover historical markers, swimming spots, and lots of ice cream.
A Guided Ride on the Rolling Slickrock of Gooseberry Mesa
Utah resident and tour guide Katharina Merchant shares her "backyard" mountain biking
A High Elevation Southern Utah Mountain Bike Adventure
Mountain biking in Southern Utah usually inspires visions of red rock destinations such as Moab and St. George. But as the heat of summer kicks in and the triple digit temps become more frequent, heading south to ride may seem out of reach. Fear not my friend, as there are some riding destinations within Southern Utah, where the elevation will keep you cool.
A Local’s Guide to Logan: Northern Utah’s Outdoor Adventure College Town
Logan is teeming with some of the best arts, food and outdoor adventure opportunities in the state. Whether you’re passing through or just looking for new places to explore, here are some of the best ways to experience Logan.
Bikepacking Across the Aquarius Plateau
A 5-night bikepacking trail has opened up a beautiful swath of the Southern Utah landscape. Following trails from Brian Head to Boulder, riders can experience long days in the saddle, and then recuperate in backcountry huts stocked with creature comforts.
Bikepacking through Time in the San Rafael Swell
We're miles away from civilization here in southeastern Utah’s San Rafael Swell, and we carry everything we need on our bikes. This is the type of adventure I've longed for, a trip that reminds us of our self-worth, resilience, and how little we actually need to survive.
Dog-Friendly Utah: The Road to Mighty
Want to bring your furry friend on your next vacation? Utah is home to several great dog-friendly national parks and other fun destinations. Check it out and plan your trip!
Find a Winter Refresh in a Utah State Park
The best Utah state parks will entice you with ice fishing, white sand and snow-dusted scenery. Take a winter break to refresh with a visit to a few of these places.
How To Bikepack Utah Like a Girl Boss
Here are the key things you need to know as you start planning your first bikepacking trip.
How to Bikepack: Pro Tips for Planning a Multi-day Backcountry Ride
Want to learn how to bikepack? Check out these tips and bikepacking gear list from veteran rider Kurt Gensheimer and plan your own Utah bikepacking trip!
Knobby Tired Nomads: Bikepacking the Utah High Country
If you’re into bikepacking, Utah is a place you’ll want to check out. Read about a self-supported tour of Utah’s backcountry here, and start planning your trip.
Mission to Mars: Riding Gooseberry Mesa
You haven’t truly ridden a mountain bike until you’ve visited the stunning slickrock of Gooseberry Mesa. Learn more about this spectacular Utah trail.
Moab's Singletrack Renaissance
Moab isn’t just for burly Slickrock riders anymore. In the last few years, local groups have established dozens of miles of new mountain bike trails.
Mountain Biking the Wood Hill Trail System
Luke’s Loop is one of several options in the Wood Hill trail system in central Utah, a favorite for locals and those just passing through.
Ridin' Greater Zion
Southeastern Utah might be the state’s hidden gem of mountain biking. Learn about the top mountain biking trails in this area and plan a getaway you’ll never forget.
Seven Must-Ride Mountain Biking Trails in Utah
To help you plan a Utah mountain biking trip, we've assembled a list of seven of Utah’s best mountain biking trails followed by a roundup of Utah’s best fat-tire destinations.
Spreading the Joy of Adaptive Recreation
Meet three National Ability Center staffers who live outdoor adventuring.
The Complete Winter Camping Packing List for Staying Warm in Southern Utah
For most travelers, Southern Utah winters prevent comfortable camping, and occasional snowfall can make outdoor adventure a little more challenging. With a little extra planning, good layers, and the right equipment, however, you can enjoy Utah's national parks in the solitude of winter.
The Coyote Canyon Loop
An easy 20-minute trip south from Park City, the Coyote Canyon Trail is a gorgeous 20-mile loop that undulates through the sprawling expanses of Heber Valley and showcases some of its best features along the way.
Top 5 Rules of the Ride: How to Mountain Bike Responsibly on Utah Trails
Mountain biking is one of Utah’s most popular activities enjoyed by riders of all ages and skill levels. Be able to fly down that flow trail by, first, understanding and respecting the rules of the ride.
Utah's Outdoors Are Wide Open for All Abilities
Utah’s National Ability Center is known for changing lives through its adaptive recreation programs. Truth is, just setting foot on the center’s 26-acre ranch can feel transformative.
Visions of Grandeur: Heaven and Hell on Two Wheels
The story of a women’s bikepacking trip unspoils 250 miles of the majesty of Bear Ears country, including three national monuments, one national recreation area and a national park.
Wild Heber: Close-to-Home Adventure
Just 45 minutes from Salt Lake City, Heber Valley’s state parks and national forest lands offer a world of adventure. Hike, bike, camp, kayak, watch wildlife and reel in blue-ribbon trout while learning about nature and how to protect it.