Members of Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association have become ‘backbone’ of trail work in Southern Utah

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FEATURE — There is a dedicated and hard-working group of people in Southern Utah who quite selflessly give of their time for the sport I, and many, many others, love.

Jay Bartlett of Bicycles Unlimited, date unspecified, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Jay Bartlett, St. George News

The members of the Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association love mountain biking, being outside and getting dirty, whether they are riding mountain bikes or digging in the dirt to build or fix new and existing trails.

The Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association has quickly become the backbone of trail work in southwest Utah. In fact, the name “Dixie” is a bit of a misnomer, since that term is usually associated with the cotton-growing heritage of Washington County.

However, there are actually branches in other counties. Iron County has the exciting, super fun and growing Iron Hills trail system with flow trails and trees. The Trails Association has also made some great upgrades to the Three Peaks trails, including ladder bridges.

There’s also Kanab. Up until now, the area has been pretty much untapped for mountain biking, but there is definitely great potential in such a beautiful place. The association’s many volunteers have recently opened the first, I’m sure, of many new trails as well as a pump track in town.

Here in Washington County, we already had some great iconic trails before the Trails Association was even formed, like the Green Valley Loop and Gooseberry Mesa. But as far as new trails, we had stagnated for a while.

I remember riding a lot of dirt bike and ATV trails, which was fun, but there’s nothing quite like a purpose-built mountain bike trail. Back in the day, trails just “got built.” But as development threatened open areas and endangered species came into the public’s awareness, we needed a voice as a group and an inciter to rally the volunteers to work, because trying to build miles of trail with just a couple of people is a big ask.

The Trails Association has filled those shoes quite well. As mountain bikers, we now have a great relationship with the Bureau of Land Management and other landowners. It doesn’t hurt that many of them are mountain bikers themselves, but there are still red tape and hoops to jump through to get any trail build approved these days.

It’s great to know that others trust us to build fun and sustainable trails. When you have that trust, the red tape goes away a bit quicker. This kind of representation has been key to getting trails built on BLM, private and city land.

A project to rebuild Broken Mesa Rim trail is currently underway in Red Cliffs Desert Reserve — an impressive feat considering that the endangered desert tortoise resides there. In fact, on the first day of work, the crew came across a young tortoise on the trail. A nice lady volunteered to stand watch over it until it moved along. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with a tortoise for a bit, anyway?

Have you been enjoying the area’s fantastic singletrack and would you like to give something back? Or do you just like digging in the dirt and moving rocks around? Or do you like to spend time hiking and working in the beautiful outdoors? Come out and volunteer. You don’t have to know how to build a trail. There will be plenty of friendly people there to teach you the proper techniques. Besides, anyone can rake rocks off the trail, right? Personally, I love working on trails for all of these reasons. Plus, working on and caring for the trails gives you a sense of ownership.

It’s a pretty cool feeling to ride something you helped build!

Written by JAY BARTLETT of Bicycles Unlimited for St. George News.

This article was first published in St. George Health & Wellness magazine and updated for current publication.

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Bicycles Unlimited has been Southern Utah’s bicycle leader since 1984, offering service, sales and rentals.

Bicycles Unlimited offers a complete line of road, triathlon, mountain, BMX, cruiser and many more types of bikes. They feature Cannondale, Cervelo and Trek Brands but also carry many other BMX and Cruiser brands.

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