Mountain biking the Cassidy Trail in Red Canyon
The Cassidy Trail, located in Southern Utah’s Red Canyon, is well known as the place where the famous old-west outlaw Butch Cassidy hid out to escape the law after rustling cattle and robbing trains. But these days, the canyon that bears Cassidy’s name is a place of singletrack goodness where hiking, horseback riding, and most importantly, mountain biking takes place.
As far as trails in Red Canyon are concerned, the Cassidy Trail is a bit lesser known, and is mostly used as a way to ride the Casto and Losee Canyon loops. But the Cassidy Trail, when done as an out-and-back to Brayton Point, is a short but sweet route totally worth riding on its own.
The trail starts at Highway 12 in Red Canyon, just up from the campground. The trailhead is impossible to see when driving up canyon, and if you pass underneath the two red arches, you’ve gone too far. The confusing thing is that a canyon nearby is also called Cassidy Canyon, and there is an established-looking trail that goes up the drainage. This is not the way. But if you drive down canyon, you will clearly see signs that lead to the hidden parking area and trailhead for the Cassidy Trail.
Once the start is located, the ride is pretty straightforward. Singletrack covered in traction-less moon dust is what you can look forward to here if it hasn’t rained in a while, which makes the ride very similar to the beginning of the Thunder Mountain Trail. Other similarities exist, such as the winding through Ponderosa pines, gazing out at red hoodoos and side canyons, and the constant up-and-down of riding through small creek beds followed by steep uphills to the ridges that spread like fingers down the mountain.
After 5.5 miles of this, you reach Brayton Point. The view is spectacular here as you hop off the bike and get a sweeping view of Losee Canyon and 31 flavors of rock formations way below and as far as the eye can see. If you’re going to stop for lunch on your ride, then this is the place to do it. Once your time spent above the world is finished, you can continue your ride on the Casto Canyon Trail, which is a popular loop for mountain bikers, or you can even link up with the Losee Canyon Trail for a shorter loop ride.
But for the purposes of a quick 5.5-mile out-and-back, Brayton Point is the best turnaround point. If you thought the uphill battle to get there was tough, just think about how much fun those rocks, corners and dips into dry creeks will be when you’re bombing down on your bike. This descent back down to Highway 12 is a blast, and is well worth the effort.
In all, if you’re in the Red Canyon/Bryce Canyon area for some mountain biking, consider a jaunt up and down the Cassidy Trail. It’s short, which makes it perfect for a quick evening ride after setting up camp, or a morning workout before heading out on larger adventures.