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A (San Rafael) Swell Night Out

Intermediate/Difficult
 5.0 (1) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A fantastic tour of some of the San Rafael Swells best scenery.


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Map Key

73.5

Miles

118.4

KM

20%

Singletrack

6,941' 2,116 m

High

4,829' 1,472 m

Low

8,057' 2,456 m

Up

8,057' 2,456 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

30%

Max Grade (17°)

Dogs Off-leash

E-Bikes Allowed

Features Commonly Bikepacked

Overview

Superb, mostly dirt road tour of the Southern San Rafael Swell. Can be done in a single long day or a great overnight trip.

Description

This is a super challenging route, only advanced level riders should attempt it in a day, which is very reasonable, though many will want to make it an overnight. There is a bunch of climbing, and very little easy or flat terrain. Bring a ton of water, and don't attempt this route if it is hotter than 70 outside. There are no water sources. A support vehicle would be great for all but the Behind the Reef Road as I"m not sure anything but a motorcycle could tackle a lot of that section.

Start at the North Temple Mountain Campground and head southwest on the Behind the Reef Road, I rec'd doing this section first, clockwise, as it is the crux of the route. The first 6 miles are on great 2wd road, then it gets much more rugged for the remaining 14. Plan on lots of steep, loose, rocky terrain, with plenty of roller coasters. No flat terrain here. You'll pass the popular Little Wild Horse and Bells canyon loop. The trail gets worse the closer you get to the end. Mentally prepare.

After 20 miles you'll reach road 1012. Either head left for a 5 mile out and back to an old airport, or head right and climb 1500' over the next 8 miles on good 2wd road to the junction with 1019. Head left on 1019 and enjoy the best part of the day, a 5 mile 2000' descent with fantastic scenery. It almost made the previous 30 miles of climbing worth it.

The next 20 or so miles are fairly straightforward riding in a wash, with great scenery, though not as good as Behind the Reef Road with overall elevation gain until a steep climb to exit the canyon. Follow 1019 to where it reconnects with 1012, then continue with several more climbs and descents until the final long descent down Temple Mountain road to the car. There is a junction on the left before the long descent to continue on 1012 that leads down to the north side of Temple Mountain, and then following jeep roads back to the car, but I didn't do it as the road looked really rocky and loose and moral was waning. It was 61 miles and 7k of climbing for going straight down Temple Mountain road.

Enjoy!

A more detailed description is found here: bikepacking.com/routes/swel…

Contacts

Shared By:

Spencer Weiler

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 1 vote

#1179

Overall
  5.0 from 1 vote
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Photos

Behind the Reef Road.
Dec 24, 2013 near Ferron, UT
mo Obrien on the hood,  temple mountain, san rafael reef
Mar 8, 2022 near Ferron, UT
Behind the Reef Road.
Dec 24, 2013 near Ferron, UT
Behind the Reef road.
Dec 30, 2013 near Ferron, UT
Bell Canyon begins to narrow down.
Dec 30, 2013 near Ferron, UT

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