San Rafael Swell hikes + bikes

Easter is typically the busiest weekend of the year down at Goblin Valley, and this year was no exception.  We were busting at the seams with people trying to slake their spring fever in 70-degree sunshine.  Great ... but exhausting.  Jordan and I both put in some crazy hours at work, then busted out for our weekend to find some much-needed solitude in the northern San Rafael Swell.

The northern Swell is rugged and gorgeous, and the dirt roads help keep visitation relatively low.  We drove up Buckhorn Wash and spent an afternoon wandering around the towering cliff walls and perennial streams in Calf, Cow and Pine Canyons.  The trailhead and parking area are located on Buckhorn Draw Road, just 2 miles north of the Swinging Bridge. These pretty canyons aren't exactly jaw-droppingly stunning, but they were totally enjoyable and perfect for an afternoon hike.

The next day, we dusted off the mountain bikes for the first time this spring and rode around the Good Water Rim trail.  Hells yeah!  This has to be one of the best trails in Utah -- it was all superfun intermediate riding and nonstop gorgeous views.  The whole loop is about 21 miles, and it skirts the edge of the Little Grand Canyon of the San Rafael River.  It's mostly cross-country singletrack that stays close (but not too close) to the cliff edge.  We had to cut the ride short because a sleety thunderstorm rolled in, but it was still fun.  I definitely want to come back and finish it up.

Wedge Overlook

map credit www.utahmountainbiking.com