Paiute – Aug. 2010

Aug. 5-7, 2010

The Paiute ATV trail system is one of the largest and most famous trail systems in the country.  The main trail (#01) consists of a loop of about 240 miles, but there are thousands of miles of side trails to choose from.  Each year the local towns sponsor both ATV and UTV Jamborees, bringing thousands of riders to the area – so it is important to check their calendars before planning a trip to the area.  This document summarizes our trip on the weekend of Aug. 5-7, 2010.

Photo Album:

For additional photos, check my Picasa photo album at:


  • Dee, Kim, Jamie, and Jason Gardiner (Aug. 5-7).
  • Scott, Terri, and Peter Barton (Aug. 6-7).


It is common to have afternoon thunderstorms in August, especially in the mountains.  This year the weather has been unusually wet, with numerous heavy rainstorms the weeks prior to our trip.  The forecast called for drier air moving in to Utah on Friday, but we started our trip on Thursday.  It turns out we got rain each day of the trip, but we had a great time nevertheless.

Max Reid Loop – Thursday Aug. 5:

We arrived at the Max Reid trailhead near the Fremont Indian State Park just in time for lunch.  While eating lunch it began to rain.  We watched with great interest the storm up in the mountains were we intended to ride – paying close attention to the lightning!  The storm gradually grew in intensity, but there were clearer skies to the west, so we decided to proceed with our ride.

We unloaded the bikes and changed into our riding gear.  Our intent was to ride up trail #76 through an interesting slot canyon (shown in yellow on the map).  We headed east on the frontage road (open to ATV travel) and quickly found that we were moving faster than the storm that just passed by.  It began to rain quite heavily, and we were soon drenched to the skin.  Furthermore, the frequency of lightning strikes was increasing.  After crossing a flooding drainage ditch that crossed the trail we stopped for shelter under a bridge on I-70.  We anxiously waited for the storm to subside.

Once the rain and lightning passed, we headed on up the trail.  We only made it a few hundred yards because there was a river running down the dirt road.  The recent storms had eroded much of the trail causing ruts about 1’ deep and 1’ wide crisscrossing the road.  It didn’t seem like such a good idea to ride into a slot canyon with this much water in the area.  So we returned to the parking area for plan B.

Max Reid loop

The ground was not water saturated near the car, so we decided to ride up the Max Reid trail (#01) south from the parking area.  This trail has also been known as the Joe Lott trail.  The lower portion is rated as a blue (intermediate) trail while the upper portion is rated black (advanced).  I didn’t find the upper portion to be particularly difficult.  I suspect they have recently groomed the trail and removed some of the rocks.  This trail was absolutely wonderful!  This was perhaps my favorite section of trail on this trip.  It had numerous smooth banked turns as the trail meandered through the trees.  It was a delight to ride – and we had the entire trail to ourselves (who else would be crazy enough to ride in this weather?).

The bottom of the Max Reid trail

The top of the Max Reid trail

It appeared that another storm may be moving in, so rather than ride back down the Max Reid trail we decided to take the safer route down on the Kimberly road (#13).  This was an easy ride with enjoyable scenery and a brief glimpse at the old Kimberly ghost town.  Kimberly was a thriving mining town in the early 1900s.  One claim to fame is being the birthplace of Pat Priest who played the role of Marilyn Munster in the 1960s television show “The Munsters”.

At about the time we arrived at the canyon bottom we noticed a heavy rain storm up in the mountains where we just came from.  The storm caught up with us just before we got back to the car, and once again we became totally soaked within a few minutes.  We took shelter under a kiosk until the rain slowed enough that we could load the trailer and head to our motel in Richfield.

Counting the ride out to trail #76 we rode about 31 miles.  We later enjoyed a wonderful meal at “PepperBellys” restaurant.

Tushar Loop – Friday Aug. 6:

The Bartons were able to join us for our Friday and Saturday rides.  We got an earlier start than usual because we wanted to get past the high elevation Tushar mountain range prior to any afternoon thunderstorms.

We drove to Hoovers and parked at the rest stop (see Figure 6).  We rode up Deer Creek (#74) which has a few rocky sections but also several fun stream crossings.  Since our last visit to the area they have added cement beams on the stream crossings to reduce erosion damage.

We then took trail #01 south towards the high Tushar Mountains.  The trail goes above timberline with a peak elevation of about 11,400’.  We stopped at the top and enjoyed the view and watched a fairly large herd of mountain goats off in the distance.

Spectacular views from the Tushars

The Tushar loop

The Tushar ride is quite easy until you reach Big John’s Flat.  The trail then turns to a tight and twisty ATV trail with lots of loose rocks.  The trail isn’t overly difficult, but it requires your constant attention.  We enjoyed a nice lunch break at Three Creeks Reservoir.  The next section of the trail was pretty fast and fun – even though we got a little rain and hail.

South of Big John's Flat

The last several miles before Circleville are very difficult.  The trail is steep with numerous tight switchbacks and the trail is filled with large round boulders.  This is a trail where power steering would be nice on an ATV.  This trail was very tiresome for those on motorcycles because you had to constantly battle the rocks.  The sun came back out and the temperature really shot up as we dropped in elevation.

A stop at a local shop for an ice cream shake was well received.  After a good rest, we headed north on the lower elevation trails to return to the car.  And once again we got caught in a heavy rainstorm.  The storm passed and we were mostly dry by the time we got to Marysvale.  Kim’s ATV had to switch to the reserve tank, so we decided gas up in Marysvale before the ride to Hoovers.

The total ride was just over 82 miles (according to my GPS).  It was an excellent ride – but very tiring.  We later enjoyed another wonderful meal at PepperBellys.

Monroe Mountain Loop – Saturday Aug. 7:

For our final ride we wanted to explore the Monroe Mountain area.  The “dry air” didn’t last too long as another heavy rainstorm moved into the area about the time we arrived at the trailhead just south of Monroe.  The wind was blowing hard and the rain was building – and there was a lot of lightning.

We decided to sit in the car and wait out the storm.  Jason happened to see a bolt of lightning strike the hillside not too far from the car.  He then noticed smoke.  We watched the smoke increase, and then turn to a visible flame.  A short time later a team of fire fighters drove right past our cars on their way to fight the blaze.  They were still at it when we completed our ride many hours later.

Monroe Mountain loop

Once the storm subsided, we rode up the ATV trail #65.  This trail was fairly steep and tight, but not too difficult.  It was hard to believe that they used to bring wagons up and down this trail.  Trail #65 joined the main road #78 which took us to the top of Monroe Peak at 11,100’ and some wonderful views of the entire Richfield to Marysvale area.

Hunt Lakes

It was very cold up on the peak and almost felt like it was going to snow.  We were anxious to get off the mountain before another storm hit, so we rode down to Manning Meadow Reservoir for a lunch break.

Following lunch we rode down Dry Creek Canyon (#02).  Reports indicated that this road is quite rocky and steep, but it had recently been graded.  Kim really enjoyed this ride.  We were even lucky enough to have water flowing in Dry Creek so we could enjoy the scenic waterfall.

Dry Creek Falls

Trail #02 returned us to Marysvale and from there trail #24 took us back to Monroe where our car was parked.  This was about a 60 mile ride and made an enjoyable loop.  After loading up the trailer we headed for home, arriving in Salt Lake about 8:00 PM.

In spite of the marginal weather we had an excellent time.  We rode some fun trails and a few challenging trails, and enjoyed many miles of gorgeous scenery.  The Paiute trails certainly live up to their reputation.


About gardinerfamilyadventures

A really great family!
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