The Zen Trail stood out in a quick web search as the best ride in the Green Valley area of St. George. Having ridden it, it’s easy to see why: the trail experience is loaded with everything one might hope for in a desert trail: rocks, views, challenging climbs and a few sustained descents. You can also link up to other routes in the zone (it’s easy to link to the Barrel Trail) to create much longer rides. The downside of the Zen Trail is that it’s somewhat short at 5.9 miles in length.
There’s one more downside: finding that starting point can be tricky, as there isn’t much, if anything, in terms of signage. Fortunately, the live GPS function of apps like Trail Forks and MTB Project makes it easy to ensure you’re on the correct route, especially if you’re starting later in the afternoon and hoping to bang the route out.
The ride starts up a climb up double track until you spot a single track option on the right. It’s actually the trail, and as you continue up the views begin.
The climbing continues until you reach the mesas, with even better views. From here you’re either negotiating the rock features on connecting to the next bit via the desert singletrack. Like a lot of slick rock style riding, you need to keep an eye out for the next painted bit of rock or its easy to lose your way.
For the most part, the route is fairly obvious once you’ve hit the single track start, though the end is equally confusing as well.
Although the overall mileage is short, both times we’ve ridden this trail we’ve gotten back to the car at dusk. It’s also Utah riding, which means the 6 miles of trail (we actually did considerably more, thanks to a missed turn at the end that added several miles of dirt road to our day) is more like 10-12 if compared to PNW XC style trails in terms of effort. Either way, it is definitely a recommended ride to hit if you’re passing through.