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Heading out to Vernal and want to see what the area has for mountain bikers?
We were on a mission to find the best beginner and intermediate mountain bike trail in Vernal Utah. We rode trails that would be great for families or others just starting out in the sport or wanting an easier ride.
What you need to know before going mountain biking in Vernal.
First of all, if you want to go mountain biking in Vernal, you’re going to need to bring your own bike as there is nowhere to rent bikes. If you forget some gear or need repairs done, head to Altitude Cycle and they can help you.
Also, after a long day of riding, you’ll be craving some serious carbs, so heading to Antica Forma for pizza and pasta will certainly hit the spot. We especially loved the capricciosa pizza and the lasagna was some of the best we’ve tasted!
Most of the mountain biking in Vernal is in a few specific areas. McCoy Flats (highest concentration of trails), Dry Fork Canyon (best shade for a hot day), Red Fleet, and Hideaway Hollow. All of the major trailheads are marked here on this map.
McCoy Flats Biking Trails
McCoy Flats is an area southwest of Vernal with has 35 miles of mountain biking trails. The area is a desert biking area consisting of rolling hills, a few mesas, and lots of sagebrush. One of the best things about riding at McCoy Flats is that the trail signage is very good, so it’s quite simple to stay on your intended trail. All of the trails straight out from the parking lot are green (beginner) and blue (intermediate) trails, though if you’re looking for some black trails (advanced), those aren’t too far away.
Directions: From Vernal, head southwest on Highway 40 for 3 miles. There will be a sign for McCoy Flat Road, and you will take a left turn there. It’s just over 3 miles from the turnoff to the trailhead, which is easy to identify with it’s large parking lot and picnic area.
The parking lot has a large shaded picnic area as well as toilets, but no water is available there.
There is no shade out at McCoy Flats, so rides here should be done in the morning or evening when the weather is hot, and always make sure to carry plenty of water!
Best beginner mountain biking trails at McCoy Flats
Combo is an easy 1.5 mile trail that closely follows the road. It’s got a few small hills, but for the most part it’s very easy. It’s just a step up from riding on the dirt road (you can see the road the whole time), so it’s a good first mountain biking trail, but if you’re looking for a bit more of a challenge, head out on Combo and back on And Cookies, or what we preferred was to ride the And Cookies trail the whole way.
Cookies is a 2 mile trail that can be ridden as an out and back trail or as a loop with Combo (easiest) or Got Milk (harder). It has a few steeper hills that most beginners will probably end up walking, but also some really great flowy sections as well. Cookies is a great trail to practice climbs, descents, and a bit of cornering before moving onto more difficult terrain.
Got Milk is a 3.8 mile trail that connects with the And Cookies trail and loops back to the trailhead. We rode the trail from the end of Cookies at the west, back to the parking lot at the east, but feel like this trail would be more fun if ridden from east to west instead. This trail has some moderate climbs as well as a few rockier technical sections. Overall, it’s a great section of easy-intermediate single track with plenty of fun flowy sections to keep the ride exciting.
Retail Sale is a total of 8 miles long and connects to several other trails in the McCoy Flats trail system. We rode a section of it and would consider this trail an upper-intermediate trail. You will encounter a few more rocks here than on the other sections that we mentioned, as well as several more technical turns.
Dry Fork Canyon Biking Trails
Dry Fork Canyon feels like the exact opposite of McCoy Flats. Dry Fork Canyon has a river flowing through it and is shaded most of the way with thick trees. It is the perfect ride to do in the heat of the day, since the river and the trees cool the temperatures down significantly.
Dry Fork Flume Trail
Dry Fork Flume is a 4.5 mile section of trail that goes between the Flume Interpretive Trail parking lot to the Flume Trailhead parking lot (see map above). You can ride this trail in either direction and shuttle the trip or do it as an out and back ride, making it 9 miles total. This trail is rated as a blue trail (intermediate), though the first 2.5 miles of our ride (from the Flume Trailhead EAST) were significantly easier than the last 2 miles.
The first 2.5 miles had some nice flowy sections and while some of it was rocky, it wasn’t too difficult, and our 9 and 12 year olds had no major problems getting down in about 40 minutes. The next 2 miles took us well over an hour because the terrain was much more difficult.
I would easily rate this section of the trail as a black (advanced), as there are many technical rock sections, several steep climbs and descents, and even a pretty sketchy and wobbly bridge crossing (luckily there was no water in the stream so a couple of us could walk around).
You can watch this video of the Flume Trail here to see what you can expect.
Wild Iris Loop Trail
If you continue up Dry Fork Canyon, you will reach the Wild Iris. This is a great 2.7 mile trail that’s a solid intermediate trail. We hiked most of this to get to the Flume Site, and though we haven’t biked it, we would love to get back and try to bike that trail. This trail is a fairly flat single track without many rocks or technical sections (we’ve hiked about ¾ of the total trail, so this is based on what we’ve seen). From what I’ve seen this trail would even be suitable for advanced beginners. The trail has shade on a few sections though you will also find yourself in direct sunlight a lot as well.
This trail is excellent for hiking as well and you can get all the details on that here.
Directions: To get to the trail, go to The Flume trail head, 6.1 miles from the turnoff into Dry Fork Canyon, and turn left. From that road, continue on until you reach Massey Meadow. At Massey Meadow there is dispersed camping available as well as a pit toilet and a nature trail on the south side of the road. The road turns left at Massey Meadow and low clearance vehicles should use caution in this section since there are several rocks in the road as you drive up the hill. About ½ mile from Massey Meadow, there is a parking lot off to the left where the trail begins. The trail is quite obvious as you have to cross the bridge from the parking lot, and from there, make sure that you are heading west.
Halfway Hollow Bike Trails
Halfway Hollow is another popular desert mountain biking area that’s about 12 miles west of Vernal. It consists of the Corkscrew, Race Track, Skull Falls and Antelope Ridge biking trails. There is no shade out here so these trails are best done in the morning or evening when the weather is hot.
While we haven’t personally ridden these trails, we intended to on our last visit, so this information is based on our research, not experience.
Corkscrew is an 8.5 mile intermediate ride, with over 900 ft of elevation gain. For maximum fun, this trail should be ridden clockwise. This trail has some moderate climbs and a few rocky areas, though nothing too technical. There are some fast and flowy sections through the junipers that make this ride extra fun.
Race Track Trail
Race Track is an easy-intermediate ride that can be done as either a 4.5 or 6.8 mile loop. It’s less technical than Corkscrew and has about half of the elevation gain with only 400 ft of vertical gain. This trail has a bit of up and down and some flowy sections that can be ridden fast, but nothing too difficult.
Red Fleet Bike Trails
Jazz-Chrome Molly is a bit of a legendary trail in the Vernal area and is located at Red Fleet State Park. This is another trail that we didn’t have a chance to ride, but definetly is one of the best intermediate bike trails around Vernal. It’s a 5.8 mile intermediate trail, with about 600 feet of elevation gain. There are a few climbs combined with some great downhill sections. This trail has some technical turns as well as narrow sections of singletrack which will necessitate using caution. To get a good idea of what to expect on the trail, check this video out
Want to learn about all of the best adventures in Vernal and Eastern Utah? We’ve written everything you need to know HERE.
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