Saturday, October 20, 2012

Navajo Lake Loop Trail: One Wild Ride!

It was time to mix things up a bit and hit the trail with our mountain bikes. We rode the Navajo Lake Loop Trail described here, which includes a section of the 32 mile Virgin River Rim Trail. This trail was described as a novice trail in most of the descriptions we read with very little elevation gain (200 feet)...but we knew that riding at about 9,000 feet elevation might make it feel more like an intermediate level trail!

Navajo Lake sits at about 9100 feet elevation 25 miles East of Cedar City, UT just off Hwy 14. The lake is about 5 miles long, running East/West, making most of the trail on long stretches of North and South facing hillsides. This is relevant because with the recent snowfall, the trails on the North facing hillside had snow!

This is what we were greeted with early on, on the trail!

We encountered a few obstacles along the way:

Spruce beetles killed a lot of trees in the 90's and now they are falling over.
A view of the lake from the Virgin River Rim Trail section:

A view of Navajo Lake from the South end during a dry patch of trail.

After about 3 miles of a mixture of hard packed mud, snow and some soft mud we came to a section where no one had passed before us since the snowfall and the going became rougher:

Unbroken snow in front of us!

Nice, hard-packed mud here...that was not the norm in this  section!

After a couple of miles of mostly snow and squishy mud, we finally had enough and found a way down to the road. Traveling up the road we missed our trail turn off and added an extra mile to our ride!

At the East end of the lake the trail crosses a lava flow:

About to cross the lava flow!

Hans' bike is actually pretty clean after riding on a dirt road for about a mile!

By the time we reached the lava we were getting pretty tired due to the elevation and the hard work of going through snow and mud for miles. We were happy to see some of the most beautiful, slightly rolling single-track we've ever encountered:

Lightly rolling single track along the North side of the lake.

Through stands of Aspen whose leaves were long gone for the season.

We were eagerly anticipating reaching the truck when "disaster" struck about a mile or so from the end:

Broken chain!

Hans spent a good 15 minutes trying to fix it while I held the bike up and took in the calm, beautiful scene around us and soaked up the sunshine.

Hard at work!
South end of Navajo Lake. The water is very low at this time of year.

He got the chain back together but it only lasted about a quarter of a mile. Oh least we were only about a mile from the truck. And, luckily, we were almost to the point where the trail met a dirt road. Hans rode my bike to get the truck and I pushed his bike to the road and waited for him to come along with the truck.

The last surprise of the day was sheep being driven down the Navajo Lake Road:

It was an awesome and exhausting day on some fabulous single track in beautiful country! I'd enjoy riding this again...just minus the snow and mud!


  1. Quite an adventure you had there with lovely scenery, and a sheep drive to boot. I enjoyed reading your account.

    So happy the chain on Hans' bike didn't break until almost the end.


    1. It was fun and exciting! Thanks for joining us on our travels!

      I've checked out your blog...sounds like you've hit quite a rough patch! I hope you continue to heal quickly. Your description of a hike in the Tetons really whetted my appetite for that area. Maybe next year!

      I hope we see you on the road sometime. Lisa

    2. Lisa,
      We'd love to meet up and hike or have an adventure.

      Next year, our **current** plan (subject to the whimsy of the two of us) is to spend a month in Michigan in late September/early October to see fall colors in the Upper Peninsula, hike to waterfalls, visit museums to find history of my great-great-great grandfather who was a heroic sea captain on the Great Lakes and see other relatives around Ann Arbor/Grand Rapids, MI. We also plan a week in New Orleans around Feb. or March.

      Yes, you should plan on the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone!! We've been there a few times and have loved every visit. This last trip was our first time to get up close and personal with moose, though. That was awesome. We also thoroughly enjoyed our "walk" to the top of Mt. Washburn. I oculdn't believe how easy it was. The road up is quite gradual.

      Happy to have you following us. Thanks for coming over.


    3. We've talked about visiting some relatives in New Hampshire next fall so it's possible our paths could cross. That's a long ways off though!!! At least we'll know where each other are through blogland!

      Here's to your health!

  2. Wow, another adventurous, fit, outdoor couple!!! They are getting to be a rarity among RV'ers. So glad you signed on the the Box Canyon Blog. We are spending November just outside Zion. The Hurricane Mesa loop from Virgin is always a must do... not single track, just mostly dirt road. But in Nov. we usually have it all to ourselves. Let's ride sometime.
    Box Canyon Mark (and Bobbie)

    1. Hi Mark, Yep, outdoor activities is what it's all about! Thanks for the info on the Hurricane Mesa Loop.

      We are spending the next 3 nights in Kanarraville to access Kolob Canyon, then on to the Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort for a few nights, then on to Kanab for a few nights...dates are not set.

      It would be great if we can manage a meetup sometime!