Spring Break – April 2009

Chimney Rock – Humbug Flats                                     Thursday April 9, 2009

Once again it was raining when we left Salt Lake City for our annual spring break ATV trip.  The rain stopped as we approached Price, but it was still fairly cloudy further south.

Our destination, assuming it was dry, was the north east corner of the San Rafael Swell in the Chimney Rock area.  Word has it that this area has some excellent, but little known, single track trails.  One of my objectives was to scope out these trails to see if they were worth trying some day.  From past experience I have found that other’s “favorite” single track trails are too technical for me.

The terrain looked dry, so we turned on to the Green River Cutoff Road and headed west towards Buckhorn Flats.  About 12 miles in we came to our trailhead (ChmnyRckCar) in the open fields a few miles east of the Buckhorn Flats ATV trail system.

Humbug Flats staging area

While unloading our trailers, a rancher from Green River stopped to visit.  He told us of his frustration with the environmentalists closing down the good grazing lands for his cattle.  He said that when he talks with them he asks if they eat grass.  His cattle do, but he doesn’t think the environmentalists do.  I liked his quote; “If there is grass, graze it.  If there is mineral, mine it.  If there is recreation, recreate.”  He also shared his version of the story of the thief that was recently captured by a couple of dirt bike club members.  He had been breaking into vehicles while people ride and stealing their belongings.  We were parked right in his prime target area.

After eating lunch we rode north along a well maintained dirt road.  This was an easy ride, but the road became somewhat more rugged as we went further north.  We stopped for a break at the Price River.  Apparently there is a location to cross the river and continue on north of the river, but we didn’t venture that direction.

This was a nice warmup ride, but we wanted something a little more interesting and challenging, so the plan was to return via an old Jeep road along the base of the Cedar Mountain.  We couldn’t find the access road shown on the map (JNCT7), but found another route further south (JNCT5).

We also explored a short section of one of the single track (st4) trails to check it out.  Jason came around a corner and was surprised to see me returning to the road.  This caused him to crash, which gave us all a good laugh.

The ATV trail was fun for the kids and a little challenging for the wives on their ATVs.  It had a lot of rolly-polly hills with an occasional deep rut or gully to cross.  But it made the ride very interesting and memorable.

Our hope was to ride to the base of Chimney Rock, but we were running out of time so we cut back to the main road and returned to the car.  We loaded up and headed to our motel in Green River.  Everyone was tired and anxious to hit the hot tub.

For additional photos of the trip, visit my Picasa photo album:



Dee, Kim, and Jason Gardiner

Kevin, Rebecca, Jarett, and Spencer Jolley

GPS track for Humbug Flats

Top Of The World – Dolores River Overlook                   Friday April 10, 2009

The Bartons (Scott, Terri, Andrew, Ryan, Peter, and Allison) joined us on Friday.  After checking the Moab Jeep Safari schedule and verifying that they were not riding the Top Of The World trail, we ventured over towards Dewey Bridge for a more aggressive ride than our usual spring break family outing.

At the trailhead we met a nice young couple from Canada.  That had driven 18 hours to ride in the Moab area.  I invited them to tag along with us.

Many years ago I took Gary and his friend Mark on a long loop that included Top Of The World, the Dolores River Overlook, Rose Garden Hill, and Onion Creek.  Our intent was to ride this same loop.  I knew that Rose Garden Hill would require careful negotiation to get the ATVs down the ledges.  It turns out we never made it that far, but we had a wild adventure nonetheless.

I figured we had plenty of time, so I wanted to ride the Pole Canyon Rim trail first.  My guide book listed this as easy while Top Of The World was difficult.  I figured if we couldn’t handle Pole Canyon, we may not want to attempt TOTW.  This was a bad decision.  Pole Canyon is a nasty trail.  It isn’t all that technical, but it is non stop rocks and ledges.  It is just a rough trail.  Rebecca decided to turn back and wait for us at the bottom.  The rest of us continued on to what I thought would be a nice overlook above Castle Valley – but it wasn’t.  Rather than continue on, we decided to head back down.  This trail wasted a good two hours.

We then headed up the Top Of The World trail.  The first 2/3 is rated as intermediate, and it was much easier and more enjoyable than Pole Canyon Rim.  But the last 1/3 is very difficult.  Severe flooding a few years ago eroded sections of the trail, making it much more difficult than it used to be.  But with help, we managed to get everyone and all of the machines up to the top.  The weather wasn’t ideal for picture taking, but the view is incredible.  It is often referred to as a “killer view”.  One false step and you are dead.  The end of the trail is on top of a very tall cliff.

The view from "Top Of The World"

We ate lunch on top, and then headed back down.  We had another ATV group and several Jeeps sharing the trail, so traveling up and back took a little longer than expected.  Kim noted that she was not going to ride her ATV back down all of those ledges.  But with one exception, she rode the entire trail herself.  She is gaining confidence in her skills and the ability of her ATV.

The gang on Top Of The World

On the return trip I was staying near the end of the group to make sure everyone made it down safely.  At one point Ryan came running up the hill on the hard side of the loop flagging me down.  He said his dad’s prized vintage trials bike was leaking oil.  I figured we could just patch it with the epoxy I carry in my tool kit like I did last year when I poked a hole in my engine casing.  But no.  His shifter punched a hole about 1.5” x 0.75” in the side of the engine and the oil was just pouring out.  Sorry Scott – no trail-side repair for that bike.

I sent Jarett (I think) to go fetch Rebecca’s ATV with the winch so we could pull it back up the hill and get back on the main road.  Ryan then coasted and pushed his bike back down to the Entrada Bluffs trail.

When we regrouped at the bottom, we determined that it was too late to complete our planned loop – plus we had to get the trials bike back to the car.  Kim volunteered to tow Ryan back to the car while I took the others out to the Dolores River Overlook.  Those too tired to continue headed down with Kim.

The Dolores River Overlook trail is several miles further up the Entrada Bluffs road.  It is fast riding, but quite rough.  They had recently bladed the road, so there were lots of loose rocks along the entire road.  They also bladed the Dolores River Overlook road, which made that less fun than usual.

We took the fun side road to add a little more thrill to our ride.  Before we reached the overlook, a storm front moved in bringing strong winds and cooler temperatures.  We decided we better head back to the car before it got worse or got dark.

While Terri took the Entrada Bluffs road all the way back to the car, I headed the bikers off on the Kokepeli Bike Trail short cut through Cottonwood Canyon.  This is an advanced trail with cliffside exposure and one nasty rocky hill to descend.  Jason crashed once in the rocks, but otherwise everyone made it fine.  Once down the hill it is a fun cruise through the juniper trees.

Top Of The World GPS track

 White Wash – Red Wash – Trin Alcove                        Saturday April 11, 2009

The Bradleys (Paul, Liz, Sarah, and Matt) joined us on Saturday.  A group from Paul’s work was also supposed to join us, but we woke up to a heavy rain and they all decided to head for home.  With the rain, we decided White Wash would be our best place to ride.  When it is wet – head for sand.

As we rode down the muddy Ruby Ranch road Paul was able to test out his new Lexan shield which he installed on the front of his trailer to keep the mud off his bikes.  Jason and Kim were entertained watching the mud build on the front of our trailer and then fall off like an avalanche.  Unfortunately some of the mud flipped up over the trailer side, so our bikes were nicely covered in mud when we arrived at White Wash.

Jarett found a series of jumps out in the dunes so I borrowed Rebecca’s ATV to go take some pictures.  Jarett, Andrew, and Jason had a great time trying to get some air.  Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures with my slow reacting point-and-shoot camera, but I did get some nice video.

Jarett in the dunes

We then regrouped and headed up the wash to the small alcove box canyon behind the slickrock.  When the wash is wet, it is much easier for the bikes to ride and it is fun to splash all along the creek bottom.

After a short break most of the group returned via the wash while some of us searched for a shortcut over the slickrock.  I had heard there was a route through and wanted to check it out.  Once we got out of the wash bottom it was easy to find the main trail that led to the pass through the slickrock.  The sand in that region is less traveled than the main dunes, so it was enjoyable to cut a new track.

We then headed for Red Wash.  I think this area may be getting closed soon, so I wanted to ride it one more time.  It is kind of challenging to drop down in to Red Wash, but it is fun once you get down there.  After dropping down the first ledge we stopped for lunch while the sun was shining.

While eating, a large group passed through with all sorts of machines.  I commented to one fellow that he was on an ATV trail and his full-sized dune buggy shouldn’t be here.  He didn’t want to hear that and snapped back at me.  I felt somewhat vindicated when we found him stopped at the newly installed ATV gate about 1/4 mile further down the wash.

As we were riding the wet wash bottom it started to rain.  We sought shelter under an overhanging cliff and waited to see if it would let up.  We finally concluded to press on and head towards Trin Alcove overlooking the Green River.  Below is a photo taken shortly after the storm passed.  When we returned to our vehicles we found a large collection of hail stones which led to a lively snowball fight.

Storm clouds that just passed by

There are two or three different forks on the road to Trin Alcove.  Usually I take the right-most fork which leads out to the westerly edge of the alcove.  This time we went left and visited the east side.  This trail doesn’t go out as far, but we still had a nice view which included a waterfall on the opposite side of the river caused by the recent rain.  In the following photo note the waterfall in the background between the two groups of people.

Group shot on Trin Alcove

We followed the main roads back to the car, with a short diversion for the kids along a stretch of the “Two Miles Of Whoops” section of the Dead Cow Loop.  They enjoyed getting air on those whoops.  Scott also had the chance to chase down an antelope, but never quiet caught it.

White Wash GPS track

Fisher Towers – Onion Creek                                          Sunday April 12, 2009

After church on Sunday we headed to the Fisher Towers area.  We ate lunch in a picnic spot near the trailhead, and then hiked part of the trail through the strange rock formations.  I think Scott, Peter, and Allison were the only ones that made it to the end of the trail.  It was an interesting hike and we enjoyed watching two mountain climbers on The Titan, but it didn’t seem they were making much progress.

Fisher Towers

Following the hike the kids enjoyed an Easter Egg hunt in the picnic area.  We then headed over to Onion Creek to make waves with our SUVs.

Floy Wash – Sego Ghost Town                                      Monday April 13, 2009

The Jolleys headed home in the morning due to school commitments, which is too bad because this is the ride that Rebecca would have loved.  All of the other rides were pretty advanced, but this was a nice easy cruise.

We started at Exit 175 where we normally head to White Wash.  We parked near the exit and took the Floy Wash road north across the freeway and up an interesting desert canyon.  The scenery reminded me of the upper portion of the Black Dragon Wash trail.

To add a little variety we turned left and rode around the Trough Springs Ridge.  After rejoining the Floy Wash road the trail works its way up on to the bluff overlooking I-70 and the Crescent Junction area.  Other than a few technical difficulties with Peter’s chain falling  off, it was a nice and fast cruise through the desert.

Once we reached Thompson Canyon we rode down to the picnic area at the petroglyph/pictograph viewing area.

Note that this panel has pictographs and petroglyphs (and modern vandalism) on the same rock panel.

Pictographs & petroglyphs on the same panel

After lunch we rode up Sego Canyon and visited Sego Ghost Town.  Paul informed us that in its prime this community housed around 500 people.  There was even a railroad track which was used to export the coal.

The ghost town has two primary buildings still remaining, along with a few old car relics.

Sego Ghost Town

Old car at Sego Ghost Town

If we had more time we would have continued along the bluff through Sagers Canyon, but we decided to head for home.  We rode down to Thompson Springs and then along the Old Cisco Highway back to Crescent Junction.  The kids (and Scott) all zoomed by me on the pavement since my bike is geared quite low.  Beyond Crescent Junction we followed an old dirt road that paralleled the railroad tracks and then turned in to a pipeline access trail.  It was a fast return route (It took 2 hours to ride out to Sego and 45 minutes to ride back) with the exception of one large gully we had to cross.

This brought to a close another great spring break family ATV trip.  I think everyone had a great time, and other than the damage to Scott’s trials bike, we didn’t have any major incidents.

Floy Wash & Sego Canyon GPS track


About gardinerfamilyadventures

A really great family!
This entry was posted in Dirt biking, Utah - Southern and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Spring Break – April 2009

  1. Tony says:

    Great write up! Funny about the buggy. I’ve wondered about the chimney rock area. Sounds not too exciting..gotta see that ghost town some time.. cool! Haven’t been to top of the world forever, bummer about the break.

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