I have read (on ThumperTalk) that some claim that the single track trails in the Cherry Creek area are the best in the state. Now that I knew where one of these mystery trails was located, I wanted to try it out.
With the wonderful late fall weather, I figured now was the time to explore more of the Cherry Creek area. Jamie and Jason joined me for a day of exploration and adventure.
Note to self: Do NOT enter the Cherry Creek race – you won’t like it.
For those of you who are not familiar with the area, Cherry Creek is just northwest of the Little Sahara sand dunes. You drive right past the entrance to the sand dunes and keep going west for a few miles. When the pavement ends, you are there. There are numerous nice camping/staging locations along the main dirt road for the next many miles.
Since our primary objective was to explore the area, our ride route is fairly convoluted. Refer the map at the end of the document to follow my trail descriptions. You may need to zoom in to see the details.
Our ride started in the lower right corner of the map at waypoint “CarPark1”. This is where the pavement ended. We started our ride at about 11:00 AM. (It took 2 hours to drive from Sandy to Cherry Creek, including picking Jamie up at BYU.) We rode along the main dirt road (Jericho Callao Road) and took the right fork at the junction with the Weis Highway road. Our destination single track was way up in the upper left corner of the map. Rather than follow the main gravel roads to the area, we wanted to explore the smaller ATV trails and single track trails along the way. So, we ventured off the main road and headed north.
Green tracks on the map indicate trail sections that I would rate as “easy”, blue is “intermediate”, and red is “advanced”. Dashed lines indicate single track trails (no ATVs allowed).
This first section was full of deep whoops that really give you and your suspension a workout. Jason took one spill after getting too much air on one bump only to land in the following deep whoop. As the trail climbed to a ridge line, it became fairly rocky. Not terrible rocks, but sort of rough. The trail was heading in a northeasterly direction and we wanted to go northwest, so we turned on to a more major trail heading in that general direction. This trail was a little nicer and more enjoyable as the whoops were less deep and there were far fewer rocks.
Jason was having difficulty shifting, so we stopped to make some adjustments. His shifter was bent, so we removed it, straightened it, and readjusted it. A little maintenance really helped.
Just prior to reaching the Benmore road we found a single track trail heading south through a dry wash (just left of center on the map). This was a fun ride with a few banked turns and plenty of fast but easy action. We left the wash and headed over to the gravel pit.
From the gravel pit we took a nice and fast ride up Scotia Gulch and stopped for lunch at the Walker mine.
Past the mine, the road climbs up the mountain on a fairly rocky road but it isn’t overly technical. We arrived at a saddle with nice views to the south. To the northeast we notice an odd rock formation called Chicken Rock.
A short distance from the saddle we came upon the Orient mine where we stopped last May with the Bradley’s. Rather than continue down a road already explored, we went back to the saddle and took the alternate path which led north and then northwest. I thought, based on examining Google Earth, that this was the mystery race single track we found earlier. But no. This was in fact a double track ATV trail that worked its way down to the Great Eastern Hollow trail. This was a fun ride with some interesting and bizarre scenery.
We rode up the Great Eastern Hollow trail to the spot where the single track race course left the wash and headed to the east. The first part of the trail was narrow but fun. The fun quickly changed to a challenge as we hit the first of three major hill climbs. The trail was in terrible condition due to all of the racers screaming up this extremely steep hill. The dirt was loose and there were numerous loose rocks scattered around. My bike almost lacked sufficient power to make the climb, and I almost lacked the skill. It was a challenge, but we all made it okay. Then the question was whether to turn around on the steep side hill and go back down the steep hill or venture on into the unknown. We choose to press on and had two more steep climbs to make before reaching the summit on the back side of Chicken Rock.
The views from here were spectacular. The sand dunes are visible to the south (on the left of the photo) and numerous mountain ranges in every other direction. We could even see other ATV/dirt bike groups in neighboring canyons and ridgelines.
But once you are on the top, there is only one way to go – and that is back down. The trail leading down the eastern side of the ridge was very steep and intimidating. You basically just try to keep from loosing control and skidding all of the way down. It was a white knuckle descent, but we all made it without mishap.
Following the steep descent the trail goes through the middle of a bizarre dead forest that reminded me of something out of The Lord of the Rings. The trail then teed into an ATV trail. The right fork would have taken us back over to the Walker mine, while the left fork took us down a fun section of ATV trail in to the valley that leads to the Hassel Ranch. We met three men on ATVs coming the other way and I was pleasantly surprised to see that all three of them knew the proper safety hand signals.
We worked our way east and just prior to reaching the Benmore Road we took another ATV trail to the north. This trail was really fun as it zigzagged amongst the trees. The trail eventually departed from the brown trail indicated on the map (with no sign of the old road) and become more challenging with downed trees and tighter turns. It eventually teed into an old Jeep road that took us back to the east and to the Benmore Road.
A quick ride down the Benmore Road brought us to the Cherry Creek reservoir. This reservoir was small but quite scenic. In an attempt to find a way back toward the car we turned off the main road and headed east until we came to a fence line. We followed the fence line which brought us back out to the main road. We decided to zoom down the main road and ride the trail that we enjoyed so much last spring. The trail on the east side of Cherry Creek (between waypoints “CREEKN” and “CHERRYCRK”) had some fun and fast sections – nothing too hard, but enough turns and smooth bumps to keep things interesting. When we stopped near the Jericho Callao Road Jamie commented “that was a great game” – so I labeled the trail in her honor “Jamie’s Favorite”. This trail is almost 3 miles long and is the most enjoyable trail I have found in the Cherry Creek area. We decided to ride it again going the other direction, so we turned around and headed back to the north.
When we arrived back at the start (CREEKN), we noted that the trail continued further to the north, so we rode it back to the gravel pit we arrived at earlier. This part wasn’t as good, but it wasn’t a bad trail either. We then rode east a short distance to a ridgeline and then south as the trail zigzagged through the trees. We crossed the main road and continued south, and then turned east to return to the car. This section of trail was fair – it had a few too many whoops to be appropriate for less aggressive riders.
After again meeting the main road we turned left and headed basically to the north on a well traveled ATV trail. (I have shown this as green but it might deserve a blue ranking.) We then ventured east again crossing our morning track and climbing through some rocky stretches on to another ridgeline, followed by a steep descent.
At the bottom of the steep descent we met two riders that had just come from the north. We shared trail information and learned that they traveled east from Cherry Creek reservoir and then south to our meeting point. They said it was a very fun ride. I would like to explore that area some day.
We then headed south on a fun and fairly easy single track through the meadows. Just prior to merging with the Jericho Callao Road the trail turned to double track and led us right back to our car. We arrived back at the car at about 3:45 PM after riding approximately 45 miles. It was a great day!
- Main roads are very easy – nice gravel roads that any car could travel.
- Minor roads (the brown lines on the map) are generally appropriate for all skill levels. Some roads may not really be where shown on the map, but if they exist they are generally fairly easy.
- ATV trails near main roads tend to have many deep whoops, which makes them very tiresome.
- Many ATV trails and single track trails further from the main roads are fun.
- Some trails are extremely difficult. But you won’t know until you get there.