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Upper Pahvant System
Faulty, Juniper Drop, Spinal Tap Area

The Pahvant trails lie on the hillside west of I-70 in Richfield, with singletrack trails ranging from beginner to expert. There are also some ATV trails in the area that are occasionally used by cyclists. This page covers the trails on the upper mountain, above the top of Kiln-It. See the lower Pahvant trail page for information on lower trails.

Descending Spinal Tap. Photos and review by Bruce on September 23, 2019. Latest update June 2021.

The expected riding season would be mid-May through October. The upper singletrack trails in the Pahvant System include easier intermediate (Faulty), expert (Juniper Drop) and high-expert (Spinal Tap).

An out-and-back on One-In-A-Pinion can be easy, but most riders use this simply as a route to Spinal Tap (which is Not An Easy Ride).

This throne faces the valley just off Kiln-It near the origin of Cairn-Age and marks, for me, the division between the lower Pahvant trails and the upper mountain.

If you pedaled Kiln-It or Big Red uphill, you still have the option of using the gravel road for the last 1.8 miles and 450 vertical.

Or you can connect to Faulty for the singletrack climb. It's not that hard.

Looking west from One-In-A-Pinion on the ridgeline near FR 096.

Climbing and Shuttle Routes
FR 096

You can drive your car up FR096 to shuttle the downhill routes. This gives you the option of an easy descending route (Faulty, then Kiln-It) or a high-expert route (Spinal Tap).

If you're looking for the easiest possible way to bike to the top, it's the road. From the bottom of FR096, it's 4.1 miles and 1400 vertical feet to the top of Faulty. But really, if you're looking for "easy" you're doing the wrong sport.

Looking uphill on FR 096, a bit uphill from the top of Kiln-It.

Faulty as a climbing route

The Faulty trail is 3.7 miles in length with 600 feet of elevation change. It begins on upper Kiln-It and winds up the hill to One-In-A-Pinion and FR 096 at 6850 feet elevation. When climbing from the bottom, about 1/2 mile from where Kiln-It turns to the left on the ridgeline (with the entry to Cairn-Age), Faulty forks to the right.

Entry to the bottom of Faulty as seen when climbing Kiln-It. Veer right and soon you'll be climbing to the top.

After a gentle descent into the wash, Faulty begins to climb through a series of gentle banked turns. These turns will make you think about flying downhill, but they're also nice high-speed climbing turns.

Most of Faulty lies in this zone of white clay. There will be plenty of nice views as you ride through a sparse forest of pinion pine.

As you reach a trail fork at mile 1.0 on Faulty, keep to the right (the routes rejoin). This right fork takes you along the edge of the cliff with some awesome views into Cottonwood Wash.

There will be many views into Cottonwood Wash.

The reason I suggest climbers keep right is because I'm sending the downhillers onto the other fork. There's significant cliff exposure here with no berm to hold downhill riders on the trail. So I strongly suggest that everyone keep right -- so downhill riders take the inside path away from the edge.

View from the edge!

After the trail leaves the edge of the wash, you'll reach the trail fork for Juniper Drop. It's on your left at mile 1.8 from Kiln-It. Keep straight to continue to climb Faulty.

The next trail fork comes at mile 3.4 of Faulty. Again it's an alternate line that will rejoin. The right fork is the main trail; left takes you over a nice rock drop before rejoining.

Looking back up at the rock drop.

At the top, keep straight as the singletrack merges with the Cottonwood Wash ATV route. After 1/10th mile, roll onto FR 096 and look for One-In-A-Pinion across the road.

Almost there. When you hit the red dirt, you're getting close to the ridgeline.

Descending Trails

Faulty as a downhill

The Faulty trail is an easy descending route. Many young riders combine it with Kiln-It as a shuttled ride, with Mom hauling the bikes back uphill. The Faulty portion of this descent is 3.7 miles with only 600 feet of elevation drop. It extends from FR096 (across from One-in-a-Pinion) down to Kiln-It near the top of Cairn-Age. Faulty is a two-way trail, used for climbing to the top of Spinal Tap, so descending riders must stay aware and YIELD to climbing bikers. 

Entry to the Cottonwood Creek Wash ATV track and Faulty.


To find the top of Faulty from FR096, look for an ATV track on your right as you arrive at the top of a ridgeline, 1.8 miles from the top of Kiln-It. (Immediately after the trail forks away, the gravel road descends into a small valley.) There's a "Faulty" sign on a carsonite post.

After about 100 yards on the doubletrack, veer right (there's a sign) at the Faulty singletrack. (The ATV route heads over to the edge of Cottonwood Creek Wash.)

Rolling on the upper section of Faulty. The trail trends up and down.

Faulty has a lot of up-and-down riding, which will add a bit of climbing even on the downhill. There will be a few rollovers, but in general it's smooth dirt. Most riders are now using Faulty as a climber rather than a downhill.

The terrain alternates between red and white clay in pinion pine forest with an occasional juniper and short meadows of sage scrub.

Looking at an alternate line. Riders heading uphill can roll over to this ridgeline and take a 5-foot drop, then rejoin the main trail.

At mile 2.0 from the top, Juniper Drop forks away downhill to your right. This is an expert-level option for descending back to Kiln-It.

Next keep right at mile 2.8 if you're riding fast. The left path rejoins after a close encounter with cliffs. If you decide to go left anyway, slow down. Stop and take in the view, then ride on.

At mile 3.4, keep straight as Faulty joins Kiln-It to continue an easier-level downhill.

Pinion pine and white clay.

Juniper Drop

Juniper Drop descends southeast from Faulty two miles downhill from the ridgeline. It drops 250 vertical feet over 0.6 miles, then goes gently uphill 1/10th  mile to end on upper Kiln-It, just 30 feet from its origin on FR096.

At the start of Juniper Drop on Faulty.

Juniper drop features frequent highly-banked turns and lots -- lots -- of rock drops. Most are little; some are bigger. At the time of my first ride, lines for ride-arounds were not fully developed on all drops. So if you're not a confident ledge-dropper, you'll need to get off and walk a couple of times.

View southeast on Juniper Drop. There three small drops between the camera and the bermed right turn in mid-photo.

Several of the drops are vertical and big enough that you can't roll them. You need to take them airborne, controlling the attitude of the bike as you leave the edge. There are a few drops that come in series -- nothing too hairy, but non-experts should control their speed enough that they can rebalance and pick their line for the next drop.

Looking back uphill at two drops, each about 4 feet. The top drop is a full-on air launch, the closer one can be rolled.


One-In-A-Pinion follows the ridgeline south from FR096 at the top of Faulty. The trail is 1.1 miles long with only trivial elevation change -- until it drops down to Spinal Tap. It's a two-way trail with some nice views into the wash. It can be done as an out-and-back, or as a connector to the Spinal Tap downhill-only trail.

Entry to One-In-A-Pinion, as seen from FR096.

If you climbed Faulty, just keep straight as you join the ATV trail, and straight again as you hit FR096, angling across the road until you spot the trail dropping down the other side.

Cruising along the ridgeline, with a hint of green in Little Valley to our right.

For a time, One-In-A-Pinion holds the edge of the ridgeline above Little Valley. This area is pinion and white clay. Then it crosses over to the left side of the ridge, where you'll find red dirt and juniper.

Still easy riding!

After again reaching a flat area of white clay, One-In-A-Pinion turns to the left to drop through a series of turns to the bottom of a wash. The top of the turns is a good spot for non-expert riders to turn around.

Otherwise, drop down the white clay slope until you're cruising in red dirt. Somewhere around here, you started Spinal Tap.

We're about to begin our descent to Spinal Tap as we ride through stunted pinion, juniper, and manzanita.

Spinal Tap

Spinal Tap is a downhill one-way trail that begins at mile 1.1 of One-in-a-Pinion. It requires high-expert skills, so others should turn back. Serious here! The trail is 4.5 miles long, dropping 1300 feet in elevation, and offering quite a few challenging spots.

Starting out in the trees, with red dirt and easy cruising.

Let me repeat...

Spinal Tap is a challenging trail. It might "average" an expert rating, but there are a few spots that require high-expert skill. You know, double-black diamond ride-or-crash. Only some of these stunts have ride-arounds at this time. In June 2021, local trail-builders are working on alternate lines to meander past some of the more dangerous stuff. So the trail may become merely an "expert" downhill, but with high-expert alternate lines. Not just yet, though.

Trail split, taking the higher (right-hand) line along the rock.

Spinal Tap starts out with around a mile cushy smooth riding through the trees, with a gradual slope. There's an occasional little drop or roll-over that will make the advanced-intermediate think, "Oh, I'm riding awesome! What were they talking about with the "high-expert" stuff? This isn't so bad!"

Running into the top of a three-foot drop.

The trail begins to follow the top of a spine -- thus the "spinal" part of the trail name -- and things get a whole bunch techier. The trail gets steeper, and the challenges come faster.

On the spine; rougher than it looks.

There will be a couple of gut-check steep ramps, covered in slippery dust, where you just have to let it roll. (The one I couldn't bring myself to do was a double drop with deep soft dirt between them. If you fishtail or dig the front tire after the first, and you're going to go sideways over the second. A high-school team was digging a ride-around trail on the day of my ride.)

About to plunge down; steeper than it looks.

And there will be some drops. Slowing down is pointless. You still won't be able to see whether it's a "huck" or a "roll-it" until you're going over the edge. Some riders are really good at hitting this stuff on a first time down. We call these brave and trusting riders "future patients." The rest of us, who are making our first careful recon ride of the trail, will want to see what's on the other side so we'll slow down so much that we crawl up to the edge and choke. That's OK. Just walk the bike back up the trail, do a gut-check, then get some speed as you re-approach the edge.

But if you're hitting the steep ramp or drop with speed, it doesn't matter. It's going to be air. But the ground comes up to meet your tires eventually.

Looking back at an edge. It's possible to just roll this one, because it's got a good transition.

There are actually some very pretty views on Spinal Tap,
if you can slow down for a second. Here we're looking 
east toward the valley.
And now we're looking south at colorful breaks. Oops.
Did you notice the four-foot drop just in front of your tire?
This is a really beautiful trail!

More rough sandstone. But OK to ride fast.

Even rougher sandstone. Not OK to ride fast.

At mile 4.3, Spinal Tap hits the valley floor. And it does that right in the middle of a massive ATV and motorcycle playground. Don't try to find "the bike trail." There isn't any. Just keep heading in the same general direction, hitting the motorcycle bumps if you want, going northeast. Aim for the spot where the mountain seems to come down next to the freeway.

Almost there! One more wiggle and we're on the final descent to the valley floor.

Eventually, you'll find yourself on dirt road heading north between the mountain and the freeway. The road ends on FR096 just west of the freeway underpass. To head back uphill, climb the road a bit over 1/2 mile and find Tank Run on your right just above the water tank. It will take you to either Big Red or Kiln-It. (See the lower Pahvant trails page.)

Nice long downhill with quite a few challenging spots!

Other Stuff...
Upper Cottonwood Wash ATV trail (alternate)

At the top of Faulty, you can keep left and follow the 2.3-mile ATV trail downhill to the Kiln-It/Cairn-Age intersection. Like many ATV trails, it's loose and often steep, tending to go over small hills instead of around them. Riders are still using this ATV track occasionally, mostly for a few nice views into massive Cottonwood Wash.

Keep right (on top of the ridge) at mile 1.6 where a larger ATV route drops steeply into the wash. Keep heading east. At a fork at mile 1.9, turn left and the track will take you to the top of Cairn-Age. (The right fork takes you steeply uphill to the top of Kiln-It.)

View into Cottonwood Creek Wash.

Scorpion ATV trail 084 (alternate)

At FR096 mile mile 3.9 (1.4 miles from the top of Kiln-It) an ATV route forks away on the uphill side of a 150-degree right-hand turn. After climbing to a ridge line, it turns and descends east back to the edge of the freeway. There are some confusing spots where ATV tracks join/leave. It's around 4.7 miles to the bottom. Here a left turn on dirt road can take you back to FR 096.

I saw no bike tracks on Scorpion at 2 weeks since the last rain. Since Spinal Tap was finished in 2020, almost no bikers ride the ATV trail.

Top of ATV trail 084.

Getting there:
North parking:  At the north Richfield exit from I-70, turn north (toward the mountains). As the pavement ends, turn right into the ATV parking area. Start the ride by crossing the main road to the small gravel road heading southwest parallel to the freeway. After 1/2 mile, follow the trail sign by turning right on a smaller gravel ATV track. (Note there's room for a couple of cars here where the doubletrack splits.) Veer left onto singletrack after 0.1 mile.
Main parking:  From Richfield's Main Street, turn west on 300 North. As you approach the freeway, turn left into the ATV parking lot. Pedal under I-70 to head uphill on FR096 to reach the top of Kiln-It.
Shuttle:  Top of Kiln-It: Drive FR 096 2.2 miles and find DT on your right with a carsonite trail marker. Top of Faulty: continue to mile 4.1 of FR096 and find marked ATV track on the right.
Bathrooms and water: none at trailheads (businesses nearby)
Riding resources for this trail:
GPS track files and route (right-click and "Save as..."):
    Multi-track area file 
Maps for printing:  Above aerial map in higher resolution
                             Topo map, high-res
Lodging, camping, shops:    Links to Cedar City area resources   Bryce area

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