Originally posted in Salt Lake Magazine July 16, 2021
It’s the Age of Aquarius. We’re not talking about the zodiacal configuration of celestial bodies foreboding the fall of civilization here, we’re talking about the new hut system built specifically for bikepacking through Utah Color Country. The Aquarius Trail Hut System has five huts spaced across 190 miles of bike trails starting at the 11,300-foot peak at Brian Head and ending in the town of Escalante at 5,820 feet. That’s a sizable chunk of trail for cyclists to tackle, but the fully stocked, luxurious huts enable bikepacking trips that are heavy on the biking and light on the packing.
Bikepacking has been a growing segment of the cycling industry for the past few years as more folks seek off-the-grid, self-supported adventures, but it’s an intimidating niche to get started. Grinding uphill on any bicycle is difficult enough. Add in an extra 30-plus pounds of gear strapped haphazardly across the frame while battling mechanical issues and trying to navigate to suitable campsites, and we’re getting into complex territory with many potential pitfalls. The Aquarius Hut System lightens the load so you can focus on the good part: ripping pristine trails through scenic landscapes.
Speaking of the trails, the primarily singletrack route passes through gorgeous settings including Powell Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest and more. Riders will get to descend the exciting Bunker Creek Singletrack near Brian Head and ride through the famous hoodoos of Red Canyon on the Thunder Mountain Trail. The trails feature a little bit of everything from fast and flowy to technical and spicy.
The five huts, constructed from repurposed shipping containers, are stocked with everything you need. Off-grid solar electricity powers a full-size refrigerator and freezer at each stop, which also includes a gas grill, a two-burner stove, kitchenware and cooking equipment. Roll right up and feast on an enviable selection of cuisine including highlights like salmon with mashed potatoes and fresh seasonal vegetables along with burgers, pasta and various desserts. The menu is far more enticing than those freeze-dried meals that typically keep you going on overnight adventures. There’s even a beer package available for $50 per person, which is well worth the cost. All you need to do is cook it up and clean your pots and pans when you’re done. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are also available upon request.
The only things you’ll need to carry from hut to hut are a pillowcase and sleeping bag liner—both provided at the first hut you visit—your personal belongings like clothing and a toothbrush, and lunch and water for a day on the trails. Everything else you need will be there waiting for you, including charging stations for e-bike batteries and cellphones for those who don’t want to go fully off the grid.
Six-day, five-night self-guided trips are available now from July through October starting at $890 per person, and a shuttle back to the starting point at Brian Head can be booked for an additional $50 per person. Check out the Ride Guide for full details of what you can expect on the trip. The huts comfortably sleep 12 people, or you can book the entire hut if you prefer a more private adventure. Fully guided tours are available for $1,800 per person. Visit the Aquarius Trail Hut System website for more information and to book a trip.