Right Fork Bunker Creek Trail
Brian Head is famous for its downhill singletrack trails, and Right Fork of Bunker Creek is one of the area's highlight rides. The route begins at a dizzying elevation of 11,307 feet atop Brian Head Peak and ends 14 miles later at Panguitch Lake, after a 3,000-foot descent. Most of the route follows singletrack, first along a breezy ridge then down a thickly wooded, creek-fed valley. The last few miles follow a jeep road loaded with whoop- te-doos that can kick up the rear tire of an unsuspecting biker or send a fat-tire test pilot soaring.
Don't be hasty in your departure from Brian Head Peak, for there is much to see. Cedar Breaks National Monument, just to the south, beckons your camera. The Monument's tiered cliffs-- illuminated in shades of orange, pink, and cream--break from the plateau's forested rim and cascade to Ashdown Gorge. It's a veritable Bryce Canyon National Park in the making. Swing around 180 degrees to the north and witness the treeless summits of the Tushar Mountains soaring to over 12,000 feet. Below the peak, the Giant Steps Lift hauls bikers up to the resort's mountain bike park.
Hop on your bike and race 4 miles across the Sidney Peaks ridge to the Parowan Canyon overlook. Peer over the cliff's edge at bounteous forests filling the wide canyon and at vermillion ramparts rising above the trees like burning castles.
Now the real fun begins. The Right of Bunker Creek Trail darts quickly into the trees, through which only a few determined rays of sunlight penetrate. For 3 miles on singletrack, you dodge rocks and hop logs, brush by pine boughs, and swoop through stands of aspens. After the trail ends, the thrill continues as you blaze down a doubletrack in your highest gears with the wind howling through your helmet. When you reach pavement, turn left and coast one-half mile to the Panguitch Lake General Store, and reminisce the day's adventure while sipping a creamy milk shake on its airy front porch.
Right Fork Bunker Creek ride requires a vehicle shuttle between Brian Head Peak and Panguitch Lake; otherwise, you'll face over 10 miles of paved roads and 3,000 feet of climbing. Contact the Town of Brian Head or any local bike shop for available shuttle services.
By Gregg Bromka, author of The Mountain Biker's Guide to Utah.
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