Location: Brian Head to Escalante UT
When: July 1 to October each year
What: Mountain Bike adventure over six days encompassing about 200 miles in total
July 18, 2021 - Brian Head, UT - There is a new mountain biking adventure in Utah that is a must add to your biking bucket list called the Aquarius Trail (https://aquariustrail.com). It features a hut-to-hut system with five units that are dispersed across Utah with about thirty to forty mile rides between huts. It connects some spectacular mountain biking with some gravel roads and amazing scenery with a final day that is mostly road but beautiful. The trip requires some planning if you want to keep costs to a minimum. The huts sleep twelve, and if you can coordinate a crew that all like to ride hard, eat plenty, and can cooperate with domestic duties in between, it can add to the fun.
WHERE TO START
First, to do this trip you need to be reasonably fit as you are likely going to spend between three and eight hours a day riding, eating, and hydrating. A good chunk of the ride is at or above 10,000 feet of elevation, which if coming from sea level, is going to take a gear from your stroke.
You must download the ArcGIS app which guides you through the trip. We had a few brave souls on our ride that had no computer or just a Garmin GPS, and they became a liability along the way. If we were to do this trip again, everyone must download the app or they aren’t riding with us. Pretty much all the non-ArcGIS riders got lost at least once with long extra miles for the privilege. It can be hot and getting lost and adding another ten or more miles can be downright dangerous.
The huts come fully stocked with everything you need for dinner, breakfast and to make lunch to put in your EVOC/Camelbak/Osprey bike pack. You will need at least three liters of water daily so we suggest two water bottles on the bike. I used a couple Fidlock water bottles and come rain, gravel, or big drops, the bottles never fell off. I recommend using a couple of these and some sort of bladder on your back.
Our group of twelve would break into groups each day, and fortunately all made it successfully to the next hut with only slight sections lost and confused. We had a sag wagon to move everyone’s gear from hut to hut which can be provided by Escape Adventures for an additional cost. The huts have electricity, showers, a full kitchen stocked with food, toilets, bunk beds, sleeping bags, and ample outdoor space for beers around the picnic table after a ride or dinner.
There is a generous mix of fantastic single tracks like the infamous Thunder mountain trail - think Disneyland only 1000 times better. The trail on day 1 out of Brian Head is supposedly Top 10 material and it was a blast. Then, the long day five single track and beautiful descent into Hell's Backbone is a day to remember. You will spend about 30% of your time on some gravel dirt roads that sometimes leave you hot and tired, but it is the price of linking amazing rides together over a long distance.
Three in our group rode on eBikes which is a great option and certainly a worthy way to enjoy the long days without some of the pain and suffering in between the epic single track. We only had three flat tires and no injuries which was pretty lucky, but certainly this is not a ride for beginners. However, it is perfect for intermediate and advanced riders bent on pushing their skills mixed with some fun evenings joking around the huts. Certainly glad we made the trip. It was another great summer biking adventure option brought to you by the good team at Escape Adventures. Ride more, ride daily.