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mountain bikers riding through off-road terrain among red rocks and trees
Courtesy of Escape Adventures
Riders on the Thunder Mountain Trail.

An all-new trail system in southern Utah is revolutionizing the long-distance mountain biking experience thanks to a system of five fully furnished huts that serve as strategically placed luxury checkpoints along a 190-mile route.

The Aquarius Trail Hut System’s five luxury huts, which are placed at 30- to 40-mile intervals and can accommodate up to 14 riders, come equipped with beds, a bathroom and shower, a fully stocked kitchen with a refrigerator and freezer, a picnic table, fire pit, solar power, and hammocks, among other amenities.

Between each stop, mountain bikers tackle some of the most beautiful backcountry the Beehive State has to offer, including the imposing 11,307-foot summit of Brian Head and the remarkable landscapes of Escalante. The route also traverses well-known attractions like Bryce Canyon National Park, Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, the Aquarius Plateau, and more destinations that comprise Utah’s “Color Country.”

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Completing the entire trail is traditionally accomplished over a six-day, five-night itinerary, though shorter trips are available. If tackling the journey in its entirety, the action-packed itinerary will look something like this:

Day 1: Kick things off at Brian Head Peak before descending the highly-rated Bunker Creek Singletrack for 2,885 feet of descent over a span of 12 miles. Next, arrive at Panguitch Lake, where the next leg of the trip meanders through 15 miles of ponderosa and juniper forests, lava fields, and meadows before checking in at the first hut.

Day 2: After loading up on breakfast, 8 miles and 2,500 feet of elevation gain await as riders make their way from Proctor Canyon to the top of Sunset Cliffs on the border of Bryce Canyon. There, panoramic views of the otherworldly landscapes can be enjoyed before tackling 8 downhill miles en route to Tropic Reservoir, where groups can enjoy a refreshing dip in a lake surrounded by ponderosa pines. Next, 19 miles of the Great Western Trail stand between you and Red Canyon, where riders can unwind in the next hut or enjoy the area’s top-notch hiking.

Day 3: Red Canyon’s renowned single-track trail starts the day with a bang. Riders descend the Thunder Mountain Trail amid the area’s famed maze of hoodoo formations before heading toward Casto Canyon. Plenty of creek crossings afford groups the chance to cool off on their way through Bryce Canyon prior to arriving at the hut at Pine Lake. There, bikers can indulge in a relaxing swim or break out a fly rod and do some fishing.

shipping containers repurposed into living quarters sit in a meadow in a large field in Utah.
One of the five huts along the route.

Courtesy of Escape Adventures

Day 4: Perhaps the most challenging day on the itinerary, riders ascend 2,200 feet over a span of 10 miles to the 10,577-foot Aquarius Plateau—the program’s namesake. The route, which includes an optional 8-mile side quest out to the picturesque Powell Point, then winds its way toward a series of high meadows before arriving at the next hut at Clayton Springs.

Day 5: Optional routes of varying difficulty bring riders first to Posey Lake, where numerous hikes can be enjoyed, before winding toward Hell’s Backbone Bridge and Box Death Hollow Wilderness—encouraging names. The final hut at Sand Creek is a short ride away.

Day 6: The final stretch ushers riders along Hell’s Backbone Road before spilling into a scenic route back toward Escalante. Hiking and swimming stops are available, including one hike to the 128-foot Calf Creek Falls, before a gradual descent to Escalante concludes the trip.

Current self-guided tours for the six-night experience, which runs between July and October, start at $929 per person, although groups of up to six and 12 are eligible for significant discounts. Three- to five-day tours are also available. Learn more about booking the Aquarius Trail here or watch the video above for additional information.

Guided tours starting at $1,899 per person are also available through Escape Adventures. The cost includes transportation to and from the meeting point, food preparation, meals, snacks, bike and food supplies, backcountry permits, park fees, and more. Learn more about booking the Escape Adventures tour here.


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