The Barton’s were kind enough to invite us up to their cabin at Bear Lake. Kim was unable to ride her ATV due to a shoulder fracture, and Terri elected to stay at the cabin with Kim and Allison. That left us ‘boys’ to go explore the fun single track along the Highline Trail. At least that was the goal…
Who: Dee & Jason Gardiner, Scott, Ryan, and Peter Barton.
Friday July 29: Highline North
Last year we rode the Highline single track from Bloomington Canyon to Danish Pass. It was fairly challenging, but really fun and very scenic. We wanted to ride that again, as well as some neighboring trails such as Snowslide.
I mapped out a route that would allow Scott to ride the portion of the Highline he missed two years earlier due to a flat tire. We would be going the opposite direction, so it would be something new for all of us.
We drove up Bloomington Canyon a few miles and parked at the staging area in Harry’s Hollow. That seemed fitting since the final Harry Potter film just came out.
We rode back down the canyon about one mile and took ATV trail #365 north to Paris Canyon. The dirt was loose and dusty, but it was a fun and fast trail. We then rode up the gravel road to Paris Ice Caves and stopped for a short visit since Scott missed it last time. There was much more ice in the cave this year due to the extreme snow year.
From there our destination was the Highline Trail (#316). I made a wrong turn and ended up on trail #426 which heads back to Bloomington Canyon. The road somehow seemed much rougher than last time. Once we reached a pass and I saw the steep rocky descent I knew we were on the wrong trail. We quickly back-tracked and started up the Highline Trail heading south. The trail climbs up to the ridge line, and we were on the northern slope. There were dozens of trees which had fallen across the trail, and large patches of snow. We decided that reaching the ridge was not yet possible this year.
On our way back we noticed a wonderful looking single track trail veering off to the left. It looked very tempting, so Scott headed off to investigate. It was a very nice trail, but it too had numerous fallen trees blocking the route. We were able to cross the trees (some required team effort) and eventually came out on the main road (#408). We found a shady spot under the pine trees and enjoyed a nice lunch. At least until Peter started throwing cow pies.
Since we couldn’t go south, we decided to explore the Highline Trail going north. It wasn’t long until we, like the Pirates in Pirates III were “off the edge of the map”. I didn’t bring any maps of this area, so we just followed our noses.
The trail starts off as a typical double track trail with some rocks, but nothing too challenging. The road eventually opened up into a large meadow at Green Basin. We back-tracked and noticed an isolated cabin on the edge of the forest. We rode over to the cabin and happened to stumble upon the Highline Trail again.
The next several miles were a fun ride, although one section was on a steep side hill that could be pretty intimidating. Luckily, someone had used a chainsaw to clear away the fallen trees. Otherwise we would not have been able to proceed. The trail just past this traverse section was absolutely a blast. Someone noted that it was like the speeders in Star Wars, racing through the trees. On the return trip I followed Ryan with my helmet camera. He was flying!
At one junction, we turned left while the Highline continued to the right. At the time, we did not know this. We were riding down through Snow Hollow. This was a rocky (bowling ball sized rocks) and steep descent that went on for miles. We eventually popped out on Highway 36.
It was getting late and we had ridden about 40 miles, so we figured we better start working our way back toward the car. No one wanted to ride back up Snow Hollow, but without a map, we didn’t have any other safe option. The ride back up was somewhat easier, although you had to dodge low hanging branches simultaneously with dodging boulders. Everyone made it back up, with only a few minor mishaps along the way.
The rest of the Highline trail went very quickly since we were now familiar with the trail. We took trail #426, including the nasty, rocky descent, back to Bloomington Canyon and back to the car.
We had a few obstacles along the way, but I think everyone had a great time. These were some fun trails! We put in about 55 miles and got back to the cabin just in time for dinner. It was a beautiful day.
Saturday July 30: Highline South
On Saturday the boys wanted to go out on the lake and do a little boating. Jason had never been in a motorboat before, and Kevin has only a few times. Since the boat is small and the beaches are mostly under water, Scott and I decided to go ride more of the Highline Trail. This time we tried to reach the single track from the south.
We parked at the Beaver Creek staging area and rode up the main dirt road to the Beaver Creek campground. We then crossed the stream (and got our feet wet) and started up this southern most end of the Highline Trail. We had previously come down this trail, but never up. Due to the wet winter, there was a river coming down the trail. It washed away most of the dirt and left a jumble of wet and slippery boulders. The trail was in terrible condition.
When we reached Gibson Basin, Scott and I traded bikes and quickly rode most of the way around the basin. We couldn’t ride the south-western portion due to the amount of water in Horse Lake.
Climbing up to the Highline Trail was a little more challenging than a few years ago. The heavy amount of ATV traffic this trail now sees has loosened up the rocks and dirt. It is still an intermediate level trail, but it is getting a little rougher each year.
This portion of the trail only had one fallen tree (as best I can remember), and it was easy to ride over.
When we arrived at Danish Pass we met a group of bikers that just finished riding the single track. Based on their report we were anxious to hit the trail! We started off, but only made it about 100 yards when my bike suddenly died. My fuel pump had been acting up the previous day due to heat problems (early editions of the Husaberg FE450 have flaky fuel pumps). But this failure occurred while I was riding, whereas the fuel pump failure just won’t let the bike start. I tried to re-start the bike and noticed fuel squirting out from under the fuel tank.
A brief examination indicated that I had a rupture in my fuel line going to the fuel injector. The rupture was up underneath the tank, which is very difficult to remove. I did not have appropriate tools and parts to repair a fuel line leak, so that was the end of my day.
We had ridden 16 miles – mostly on advanced and intermediate ATV trails. If my bike had failed anywhere along that trail, it would have been a very long day trying to get out.
But as luck would have it, we were very close to the dirt road that leads back to Beaver Creek. We rigged up my tow strap (the first time I have used it to tow my own bike) and Scott towed me back to the car. We were able to cruise along at about 17-18 mph, so the 10 mile ride back to the car didn’t take all that long.
As we loaded up the trailer we noticed a storm moving in, so we didn’t feel quite so bad about cutting the day short. We ended up getting back to the cabin about the same time the boaters did. So we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at the cabin.
We never did obtain our goal of riding the single track – at least not more than one mile. But we rode some enjoyable trails and explored some beautiful country. Now we just need to go back and try again – once I get my bike fixed.