FEATURE — The trail system in the area around Quail Lake Reservoir deservedly has a reputation of being tough. Rhythm & Blues is punchy and tight with short but steep ups and downs that often come hand in hand. Then there’s the Boy Scout Loops that have all that plus way more rocks that you must drop off, climb on or go between. All of the trails in this area, while being tough, are fun in their own right – as long as your skill set is sufficient.
There is a gem of a ride which connects Twist & Shout and Lake Side trails. While staying with the trail system’s theme of being quite tight and “turny” – giving you a lot of trail experience in a limited amount of space – it also offers a toned-down option when it comes to technical aspects like those on the harder trails. That’s not to say you won’t earn your ride on this one, it just lets you relax and enjoy a bit along the way.
I like to start at the parking lot for Rhythm & Blues Trailhead (directions to the trailhead below). On the north side of this parking lot you’ll notice a sign for Lake Side Trail. (I’ve heard that eventually there will be a full loop around Quail Lake, but for now there are sections on both sides of the lake, with the west side being a little more climby and techy.)
Today we’ll be riding the east side, so head south onto Rhythm & Blues for a short, fun jaunt to the marked road crossing that will hook you into Twist & Shout. This begins an undulating, corner-filled descent that follows the contours of the small hills nicely, giving you the chance to “pump” your weight into the g-outs, gaining momentum to regain the high ground on the other side of the small natural drainages that frequently run off the hills.
Not only do the undulations or “grade reversals” give the trail a pump-track feel, they also drain water off the trail well. However, this section is built on clay, so avoid it if it’s wet enough for your tires to leave ruts, which is not good biking etiquette.
Another word on etiquette: These trails run through healthy cryptogamic soil — a living organism that acts as soil for many plants. I’m sure work had to be done with land managers to take these trails through such a fragile area, so the least we can do is respect the trail.
Keep the singletrack “single” even though it may be tempting to ride around someone coming the other way (uphill traffic has the right-of-way). The proper thing to do is pull as far over as you can without trampling the soil, come to a stop, lean your bike over a bit and let the rider pass. Don’t fret, the fun resumes quickly and by not widening the track or cutting corners the trail stays tight and twisty the way it was meant to be.
After an exciting run through the “cryptos” you’ll drop onto a road that accesses camping areas; watch for trails alongside the road; take them, of course, until you arrive at the next parking lot and head onto Lake Side. Enjoy the flow and wait for Quail Lake to reveal in front of you. One thing all the trails here have in common is colorful, sweeping views. It’s always amazing for me to see water in the desert!
As a bonus on this trail you get to ride across the east dam, and there’s a bench on the far side you can kick back on and take in the scenery. Now, simply retrace your tracks back to the car for a very fun, 8-mile out-and-back.
Driving directions from St. George to Rhythm & Blues Trailhead.
- From north St. George Boulevard take Interstate 15 north approximately 6.8 miles.
- From I-15 take exit 16 to state Route 9 toward Zion National Park.
- Follow Highway 9 about 3 miles then turn left at 5300 West / state Route 318 toward Quail Creek State Park.
- Rhythm & Blues Trailhead is located 1/2 mile in from the junction of SR-9 and state Route 318 on the west side of the road.
- It is a large gravel parking lot with signage.
Written by JAY BARTLETT of Bicycles Unlimited in St. George.
Note: This article first published in St. George Health & Wellness Magazine in January 2018
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