Located just outside of St. George, Utah the Broken Mesa Rim and Ice House Trails are a couple of great "untamed" single tracks that offer both great views and exceptional mixes of technical sections as well as long runs of narrow downhill goodness that should have just about anyone smiling. "Single track connoisseurs" with solid technical skills will really appreciate this place. These trails have been damaged by wildfires a couple of times since I first rode out here in 2005. They have fallen out of favor over the years due to this damage and the rise in popularity of some of the other trails in the area. In 2019 the Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association did a bunch of work to revamp Broken Mesa.
From the upper parking area, the Broken Mesa Rim trail climbs immediately with some switchbacke and enough lava rocks and small ledges to take a extra bit of energy out of your legs and lungs. You only gain about 350 feet in the first mile but it feels like more than that. About half-way up this climb onto the rim you will cross over some kind of pipe and doubletrack, just pick up the trail on the other side. This was my second time on this ride and since last year the Mesa was partially burned. The recovery seems to be going well with plenty green grass across the Mesa.
The climbing levels out for the next 6/10ths of a mile before a wide open downhill starts. Last year this section was much greener where often the only way to discern the trail was to look for the short grass in the middle of the long grass. This year the trail was not quite as green but it was never the less quite skinny.
After this the trail turns downhill and sweeps back and forth down along the top of the wide open mesa. There are some lava rocks to go over as part of the trail features that will keep your from dazing off with the views around you. This downhill action will continue until you hit mile four. The picture to the left was taken by Jerry Daniels of Kevin Foote coming down the Mesa through part of the burn area.
Broken Mesa joins the Ice House trail at mile four. I refer to everything to the right (south) of the sign as the Lower Ice House trail and everything to the left (north) of the sign the Upper Ice House trail. The most popular route is to turn right here and continue downhill on the Ice House Trail. We went this way last year, but this year we checked out the upper portion as an out-and-back and it was well worth it and I highly recommend it.
Turning left at the sign you will start some extremely mild climbing northward on in the Mesa. The trail is extremely smooth but not very packed in due to the little use it has seen. It is often identified only by a shallow indentations in the ground and short versus taller grasses. The views of the Dixie National Forest and the snow capped Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness beyond were impressive. As you near the top of the 3.6 mile upper section you will transition from wide open mesa into sparse trees. You will also get to deal with some large rocks in the trail and a dry stream crossing. If you keep a sharp eye out, you will notice a few mine cart grooves cut into the rocks.
The top end of Ice House comes out on the same dirt road that you took to get to the Broken Mesa trail. From here you turn around and enjoy this trail in the the mostly downhill direction. The rocky stuff near the top is a bunch of fun when carrying some speed and after crossing the creek and climbing back up to the wide open mesa area the blaze fest really starts. This section of trail is extremely narrow with incredible sweeping flow and great vistas. While we were cruising at really good clip, I could only imagine our fast we could have gone if the trail was a bit more packed down. The 7.2 miles of additional trail you get with this out-and-back should not be missed.
The downhill return to the junction of the Broken Mesa Rim trail happened all to quickly. We could have blown right on by the junction but we stopped just so we could giggle like little school boys who had just stolen a nudy magazine from their older brother for the first time. The Lower Ice House trail is 2.4 miles long with most of that still working its way down along the top of the mesa. When we got rolling again the blaze fest was back in full swing and it even picked up a notch or two as some sections were a little steeper than others, but still mostly mild. The further down the mesa you go, the rockier the trail becomes and in a few spots a quote from Clint Eastwood starting rolling through my head, "A man has to know his limitations". It was the classic sprightly Angel on one shoulder, and the masculine devil on the other kind of thing.
touch those brakes you got this."
"Your going too fast!"
"You've ridden faster than this before."
"You are a father, if you crash now..."
"SHUT UP BI!&H, HE's GOT THIS!".
Finally Clint stepped in, shot them both and I got back to confidently riding.
At little under two miles from the junction of the Broken Mesa Trail, Ice House has makes a sharp left hand turn and starts a technical rocky descent off of the Mesa called "The Cut." The left-hander at the top has a couple of ledges that combined with some well placed rocks could grab a front wheel if you your weight just the least bit too far forward. Once onto The Cut it is loose and rocky and requires you to keep your speed well under control because slowing down can be a real issue in some spots on the way down. The Cut is a little over a half a mile long but packs quite a punch. Burning quads and cramped hands are common at the bottom.
From here, based on where you parked, you will either go right towards the Water Tank or left and make your way down to the Washington exit area. If you did the Upper Ice House out and back your mileage should be about 14.2 miles since you first got on the Broken Mesa Rim Trail. According to how you finish up to get back to your vehicle you could end up with quite a few more miles. No matter which way you go from here you should end up thinking the ride was well worth it.
This ride was Day Three of my Nevada and Utah 2006 Roadtrip.
This video was shot on April 9th, 2006. I had a difficult time trying to capture the feel of the Upper Ice House trail so I ended up shelving this footage for the better part of a year. I finally decided that going "unplugged" was the best way to show this trail. Right click on the image to the left to download the eight minute video that is 80MB.