Local mountain bike trails in top 20, BLM releases online maps, guides

Hurricane area mountain bike trail, undated | Photo courtesy of Shelby Meinkey, St. George News
Gooseberry Mesa map from the BLM's new interactive online tool for mountain biking | Image courtesy BLM
Gooseberry Mesa map from the BLM’s new interactive online tool for mountain biking | Image courtesy of BLM, St. George News | Click map to enlarge

HURRICANE — Southern Utah has some of the best mountain biking in the country, and now there is a new online tool to help riders navigate two local trail systems.

The new Bureau of Land Management interactive mountain bike maps feature twenty of the nation’s most popular trails on public lands, which include two trail systems east of the Hurricane-Gooseberry Mesa and Hurricane Cliffs.

Gooseberry Mesa is an iconic trail system that traverses some incredible slickrock terrain,” St. George BLM recreation planner Dave Kiel said. “It has also been a National Recreation Trail since 1999.”

The new mobile-friendly access tool for trail riders was developed by the BLM in partnership with the International Mountain Biking Association and the MTB Project and features interactive maps for 20 of the nation’s most popular trails on public lands.

Hurricane area mountain bike trails, undated | Photo courtesy of Shelby Meinkey
Hurricane area mountain bike trails, undated | Photo courtesy of Shelby Meinkey, St. George News

Mountain biking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Washington County, Kiel said, and is an important economic driver in the local recreation economy.

Seven permits for annual bike races have been issued by the BLM St. George field Office, and 26 companies hold permits to conduct mountain bike tours in Washington County. All 26 companies are permitted for the Hurricane Cliffs and Gooseberry Mesa trail systems.

Hurricane Cliffs received visits from 10,200 mountain bikers in 2014, Kiel said, and this number is expected to rise with the recent addition of new trails.

“With a lot of volunteer help from the Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association, we have constructed four new trails in the Hurricane Cliffs system in the past three years,” Kiel said. Construction and maintenance of the world-class trail systems would not be possible without the partnership of the local mountain biking group, he said.

The new suite of online maps will improve visitors’ experience by providing information and visual images of mountain biking recreation sites and trails, according to a BLM press statement. Through the new BLM website, riders can also access more detailed trail data from the IMBA and the MTB Project, the statement said. 

Hurricane area mountain bike trails, undated| Photo courtesy of Shelby Meinkey, St. George News
Hurricane area mountain bike trails, undated | Photo courtesy of Shelby Meinkey, St. George News

More than one million visitors used mountain bike trails located on BLM public lands last year. With the new online tool, mountain bikers can now get information about specific BLM mountain biking areas while on the go. 

Based on figures from the Outdoor Industry Foundation, outdoor recreation activities contribute approximately $730 billion to the nation’s economy and support nearly 6.5 million jobs, the statement said.

The BLM is working with local partners and volunteers in hundreds of communities around the country to build and maintain trails and to develop other recreational opportunities through its Connecting with Communities strategy. 

BLM is planning to develop additional online tools to help the public stay informed about recreational opportunities on public lands. 

The new online access tool was announced Oct. 2 by BLM Director Neil Kornze at the Outerbike 2015 event in Moab. 

The annual event draws 600 to 800 cyclists from more than 40 states, who gather to test new products, ride Moab’s trails and learn about other places to ride.

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