May 31, 2010
Last fall Jamie, Jason, and I were exploring a nasty single track trail in the West Tintic Mountains near Cherry Creek (just west of the Little Sahara Sand Dunes). The trail took us right to the base of “Chicken Rock” which had a spectacular view of the area (note the red dashed trail with numerous red diamonds near the bottom of the trail map at the end of the document). From our viewpoint we could see a beautiful valley containing Hassel Ranch and a nice dirt road heading north through a pass. It looked like a nice area to explore.
Today we made it back and explored the area. Kim was riding her ATV while Kevin, Jamie, Jason, and I rode dirt bikes. Rather than drive all the way around to Cherry Creek, we decided to try coming into the area from the north.
We drove past Five Mile Pass, Faust, the town of Vernon, and on to Vernon Reservoir. Our intent was to park at Vernon Reservoir, but the place was packed with fishermen, campers, and ATVers. After a brief potty break we continued up the canyon until we found a nice staging area. Everything was quite green and beautiful due to all of the spring rain we have received this year.
I was surprised to find that the terrain around Vernon Reservoir is much milder than on the Cherry Creek side. In fact, most of the trails were very nice and smooth as they meandered through meadows and wooded areas.
We parked near the junction to Little Valley Creek and rode the Benmore Road south. This is a nice road that could be driven in a car (when dry). We then turned west and rode up Horse Valley. This was a fun road with plenty of smooth turns and small hills – and very few rocks.
When we reached the pass we found two large water tanks which later made a nice lunch stop.
It was a little early for lunch so we headed on and began descending into Cow Hollow. Immediately the trail became very rocky and steep. Following a long rocky descent the trail narrowed to an ATV trail that wound through the trees with very tight turns and overhanging branches. Jason noted that it was difficult to do the “Limbo” while riding a dirt bike.
A fence cut off the Cow Hollow trail and a new trail has been formed that heads straight up the side of a mountain. It looked extremely steep and loose and none of us were in the mood for such a climb. So we turned around and returned to the water tanks for lunch.
After lunch we rode to the peak of a nearby hill and enjoyed the view to the south overlooking the sand dunes and large expanses of desert. We then rode back down Horse Valley and took the road over to Hassel Ranch. This was an easy ride, and after crossing the summit we saw Chicken Rock.
There is a fun ATV trail off the main road near the bottom of the map. We quickly rode up through the trees for about one mile and then returned. Last year we explored this trail and it gets pretty tight and rocky further to the north.
We made a brief stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir and then rode over to see Devil’s Gate on the Cherry Creek road. Devil’s Gate is a narrow canyon, but we couldn’t get a good look at it because it is on private property. I don’t know the history to know how it earned its name.
We returned to the car on the nice Benmore Road, completing a loop of just over 36 miles. Other than Cow Hollow, the trails were very nice and relaxing. The scenery and weather were excellent as well.
For additional photos, check my Picasa photo album at: