Scott Markewitz

Thunder Mountain Bike Trail

Located just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park, Thunder Mountain has spectacular trails, challenging riding, and thrilling vistas. Of the 24 miles of established singletrack around Red Canyon, none compare to the Thunder Mountain Trail. Coordinate with your riding partners to stop and snap a picture of you on this trail — you're going to look fantastic within this colorful landscape.

Thunder Mountain can be tackled in one of three ways — a scenic loop, a high-adrenaline downhill, or a masochistic hill climb. Choose your own adventure, but whichever that might be, you should be comfortable on terrain that can be loose with tight switchbacks and steep drops.

Bryce Canyon National Park Winter Mountain Biking in Southern Utah

That being said, most riders opt for the 7.9-mile downhill charge, with a shuttle vehicle at the bottom. This ride begins at Coyote Hollow Trailhead at the top of the mountain near the east entrance of Red Canyon. It is guaranteed to be a thrilling, technical jaunt. If you forego a car shuttle, an out-and-back can be accomplished, but you will cover 15.8 miles with 3,000 vertical feet on this beast of a ride. You can also make this downhill adventure a loop by taking the paved Red Canyon Trail, which will tack on an additional 5 miles, then the Fremont Trail back to the Coyote Hollow Trailhead.

The lure of Thunder Mountain Trail is in its undulating and playful hills, the Bryce Canyon-like hoodoos, and otherworldly vistas. As you descend from Coyote Hollow, you’ll bike through a sparse forest of cedar and pine, then climb to open rock. The soil and rock throughout the hike is, as the name of Red Canyon would imply, a Mars-ish hue. While there are several points of climbing, overall, the descent feels quite fast and enjoyable.

For less experienced bikers and families, there is the 8-mile Red Canyon Paved Bike Trail that also starts at the Thunder Mountain Trailhead. Traveling next to Scenic Byway 12, this out-and-back path is mellow and accessible for all, but offers impressive views of the cedar and pine forests juxtaposing gorgeous red rock formations.

You can get to the Thunder Mountain Trailhead or the Red Canyon Paved Bike Trail from either Panguitch or Hatch, Utah, and it's the perfect mountain biking adventure to accompany a visit to Bryce Canyon. From Panguitch, take U.S. 89 South to Scenic Byway 12. Continue on Highway 12 for about 2.5 miles, and the trailhead will be on your right. From Hatch, take U.S. 89 North to Highway 12. Continue on 12 for about 2.5 miles, and the trailhead will be on your right. This trail is best ridden late spring to fall.

GPS Coordinates: 37.7433777, -112.3314587
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