Thursday, May 24, 2012

Offroad: Mesquite-Bunkerville Backroads

We've been riding the Mesquite offroad area now for, what, five years? And we've tried to figure out the easiest possibilities to get from the city to the trailheads without the need for trailering.

The absolute insane prices of gasoline in Mesquite the past couple of years makes this even more important; especially since careful price comparisons often make it more economical to drive up to St. George to fill up than at any of the local stations – even with the higher per gallon gas tax in Utah.

In years past we've run around the city on the back roads to show that it's possible to get from one side to the other – although the spiteful closure of the newly refurbished city creek wash makes it nearly impossible this year. And, we've run from the south up to both Flat Top Mesa and Whiterock Road.

However, we've never actually run from Mesquite to Bunkerville despite having been told many times that it is possible. Last year a friend told me that he ran from Mesquite to "the Seeps" all the time; although, he never told me the exact route.

With house guests coming in the next couple of weeks and trailering probably an issue we thought it was time for a "proof of concept" ride so we didn't look like we didn't know where we were going in front of our friends.   [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: Google Earth Trail FileOffroading Home.]

It turns out that Hafen Park seems to be as good a place as any to begin the trek. Although it isn't marked well… in fact, it is marked quite misleadingly… there is a marked entrance to the Virgin River trail at the back of the parking lot. You need to ride clearly along the shoulder of the walking path which is marked "no motorized vehicles" for about 30 feet to reach the "designated trail" sign going down to the river bank.

Once there, you will be in the "restoration area" so you you need to stay carefully on the trail which has been neatly marked with cute little wire flags. Crossing under the new bridge, the trail runs back up to street level.

On the south side of the bridge the Bunkerville Canal turns off to the right in about 150 feet. Run west on the small trail along the canal and continue, passing three or four canal crossing paths, until reaching a non-official, hand painted, "No ATVs" sign where a home owner has his gate.

The track accompanying this post showed that we turned south so as not to antagonize a local; but, subsequently we discovered that there is an easement all along the canal which joins the paved Canal Street only 230 yards further along. I've marked this more direct route in Orange on the map, although we never have taken it.

After returning home I found an alternative and more direct route on the satellite image which circumvents this guys house entirely. It also is marked in orange on the map and is the one we took on our subsequent ride without problem.

If you do turn south, like the guy with the sign seems to want you to, you quickly find that there is no other way to the west, except to run in a ditch along Riverside Road for 400 yards to Virgin Street, which isn't at all good.

Virgin is a paved road and turning south onto Main Street will allow you to cross Riverside Rd at the Water Tower Lane – the trailhead to many East Bunkerville Flats rides, including to North Valley.

That is where we wanted to be, but we never like to back-track if we can help it so we decided to try and find a passage out on the flats which ran back to the northeast and connected with Whiterock Road. Alas, we didn't find one until we had driven all the way up to the water tank – quite a ways south.

From there we just rode north on Cabin Canyon road to Whiterock and back to Riverside. Later, on satellite image I did find a tiny "something" that looked like it might be a shorter alternate route back; but, who knows, the problem with those little lines is that they often are only fence lines. I marked it in orange as well on the map, just for future reference.

The loop we took was only about 18 miles and showed that it could be done – we're ready for company.

Learn A Little More

Today, a bit of novelty in the "learn more" section. A TED conference talk with lots of time-lapse and slow-motion videos. Once you get past the authors erudite pontification the videos are truly innovative, enlightening and more than a bit beautiful.

Louie Schwartzberg: The hidden beauty of pollination


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