Brian Head offers numerous shuttle-assisted mountain descents. Many of these routes we have ridden but there’s one prime trail we’ve missed. During this year’s visit we would get our first shot at the tasty Blowhard Trail.
On our previous visit to Brian Head, we had learned of Blowhard. Blowhard offers the biggest technical challenge of all of the trails in the area, we were told. The descriptions of the trail sounded a little scary. Needless to say, the brain cells that call the shots immediately placed Blowhard Trail at the top of the “want to ride” slot. Unfortunately, during our first visit in the Brian Head area, it rained and we were also informed that the trail was too gooey wet to ride. The Blowhard drop would have to wait for dry weather. For five years we tried to get back to Brian Head. The schedule never worked out. Finally, we returned to the Brian Head area this year. With dry conditions, we would get our chance. We would ride Blowhard.
The Blowhard trailhead is near the boundary of Cedar Breaks National Monument on the side opposite from Brian Head just off of UT 148. From the parking area near the 10,577-foot high Blowhard Peak, the trail moves through a spruce forest and past the peak’s weather radar station. Soon the trail starts dropping sharply reaching an average gradient of 22% for a mile long section. The forest thins when the path nears a bluff. When we dared to take our eyes off the tread we could see the dramatic striated red rock formations of Cedar Breaks over our shoulders. Not only is Blow Hard the most technically challenging of Brian Head’s prime drops, it also has the best scenery.
Our trail advisors had repeatedly emphasized that Blow Hard is a much harder trail than Brain Head’s other drops. At times the counsel seemed to edge into being a warning. But really, Blow Hard is not that hard of a trail. Aside from one scree field that only a crazed free rider would love (of course Becky gave it a go and sampled the rocks), there is no seriously life-threatening section on the trail. Despite the lack of adrenaline depleting challenges, we still found the trail, particularly the upper portion to be entertaining.
About midway down, the character of the trail changes after a short double track interlude. Now away from the rock formations on the ridge, the trees tighten as this newer section of trail flows down in a blur on a gentler gradient. Before you know it, a last set of rock drops puts you in a small turnout along Utah State Route 14 in Cedar Canyon.
Overall the trail drops around 3,000 feet in 10 miles. Like many of Brian Head’s trails, the ride was over too soon. It took around 2 hours, including the frequent picture taking stops, to reach the turnout on UT 14. It was short enough that it left you at the bottom contemplating another shuttle drop.
For Becky and myself, Blow Hard proved to be our favorite trail option in the Brian Head area. The trail is more technical, more scenic, and almost entirely singletrack. You can’t go wrong with that. There is one little problem. For the shuttle companies, the logistics for a Blow Hard run are somewhat more complicated. As a result, with just two people, the shuttle costs $50 per person ($100 minimum per shuttle). That makes it two and a half times the cost of the Dark Hollow and Bunker Creek shuttles for two people. With two cars, it would be easy enough to set the retrieve vehicle yourself as long as you know the location of the well-disguised trail exit. Or you could ride this one as a loop as long as you don’t mind 3,000 feet of high altitude road climbing on UT 14 with the frequent drivers whizzing by stunned the beautiful scenery.
It may not be worth the price, but Blowhard is high-quality trail fun. We’ll definitely be looking to revisit this one on any return visits.