Kim is recovering from her recent knee surgery, so Jason and I decided to take the opportunity to explore some more single track trails in southern Utah. We couldn’t find anyone to go with us, so it was just the two of us.
Thursday, Oct. 20: Chimney Rock Single Track
I first heard of the Chimney Rock single track trails many years ago when someone posted a question asking where the best single track trails in Utah were. Some said American Fork Canyon. Been there, done that – too technical for me. Others said the Stansbury Front trail. Jamie and I attempted it, but bailed – it was rocky and had too much steep side hill. Others said the Highline trail – which indeed is fun, but it is in Idaho, not Utah. Many said Cherry Creek. We have been there a few times but have not yet found the ‘good stuff’. But the majority said Chimney Rock.
So where is Chimney Rock you might ask? On the northern end of the San Rafael Swell lies a plateau called Cedar Mountain. Along the eastern edge of this plateau is a volcano shaped rock pinnacle known as Chimney Rock, as shown towards the right in the photo below.
The area between Cedar Mountain and Highway 6 is riddled with trails – some of them single track – although I didn’t know where these ‘good’ trails were. A few years ago we did an ATV ride through the Humbug Flats area and I noticed several places where single track trails crossed the main roads. So I at least had a few clues to follow. The objective for this trip was to explore the area in more depth, and see if we could find these “best in Utah” trails. Unfortunately, our success was less than stellar.
The following map shows a record of our ride. We put in just over 60 miles, but probably less than 10 miles of actual single track. The miles were spent searching for the single track.
The Green River Cutoff Road is a shortcut between Highway 6 and Castledale. The eastern entrance is about 5 miles south of the Price River near Woodland. We parked just west of the railroad tracks about 1 mile from Highway 6 (CR-car).
My theory was that the trails up in the flats just east of Cedar Mountain would be easier than the trails in the hills closer to Highway 6. We rode along the Green River Cutoff Road until we found a trail leaving the road.
Our fist adventure followed a rough and rocky ATV trail to the north, and then west. It wasn’t a hard trail, but it was very bumpy. This dropped us into the Left Fork of Summerville Wash. The trail was mostly sandy and frequently crossed the wash bottom. The idea was to turn left and head up Summerville Wash to the flats to the west – but we did not find any indication of a trail (there is one there, but we somehow missed it). So we continued north and thought we could ride up Neversweat Wash – but again, we could not find the trail. The trails should be there, but recent rain has erased any tire tracks so we could not find the trails.
Just prior to reaching the Price River near Woodside we found a road that had been recently graded. We took it back to the railroad tracks and then followed the tracks back to the car.
For our second attempt, I thought we could explore Lost Spring to the south of the Green River Cutoff Road. I knew there was a trail there, and I even had GPS data from someone on MotoUtah – but even with the GPS I could not find the eastern point of entry onto the loop. So we rode up the canyon to the western end of the loop and started on the trail. This is probably a fun trail, but it quickly got pretty technical and we thought it best not to continue with just the two of us. So we turned around and headed further west towards the open flats.
We found an ATV trail heading north through Dry Mesa. We passed a campsite of some fellow dirt bikers, and took that as a good sign. We soon came to a retaining pond. I was surprised at how much water was in the pond and concluded that it must have rained hard during the storm two weeks prior.
We followed this trail to the north, and then turned left and rode up Middle Fork of Summerville Wash. This trail was kind of fun, but it has been ridden by ATVs, so it is no longer a single track.
We then took the Humbug Flats road north to one of the single track trails I spotted on our previous visit (NSW1). This single track trail cuts diagonally from Summerville Wash to Neversweat Wash. It was a little on the rocky side and had one nasty canyon crossing that gave Jason some trouble. On Jason’s first attempt to climb out of the canyon he killed the bike and rolled backwards down the steep embankment. I was impressed that he kept his bike upright. Unfortunately, on his second attempt he did the same thing and dropped his bike while rolling backwards down the hill.
The trail continues on and ends up in Humbug Flats (to the north, off the map), but we were running out of time and needed to head back to the car. We decided to take the ATV road that follows the bottom of the Cedar Mountain foothills. We rode this trail a few years ago and it was a fun ride. It turns out that the recent storms must have been pretty severe as there were numerous ruts eroded across the trail. I wondered why there were no other tire tracks on the trail, but soon learned that the trail got worse and worse as we went south. Many of the ruts were just the right size to swallow your front tire – very dangerous if hit at the wrong speed. We finally came to a section of road that had been completely washed away, leaving a gorge about 30’ across and 15’ deep. So we bailed out on an old rocky Jeep road and eventually got back to the Humbug Flats road. A quick ride back down the Green River Cutoff Road brought us back to our car. We quickly loaded up and headed to Ray’s Tavern for a monster sized burger and fries. After checking into the motel we enjoyed a nice soak in the hot tub, which we had all to ourselves.
We didn’t find the ‘golden’ trails we were hoping for, but we covered a lot of ground and learned a few things about the area. The following morning while eating breakfast I noticed a stack of maps in the motel lobby called Emery County OHV Trail Map (June 2010). Wouldn’t you know it! This map shows the entire single track trails in the Chimney Rock area. If only we had a copy yesterday…
Friday, Oct 21: White Wash
The weather was perfect for our trip, although it was pretty chilly when we arrived at White Wash around 10:00 AM. We decided to let it warm up a bit before heading down to ride the incredible Dead Cow Loop.
As with the Chimney Rock area, there was evidence of significant recent rain. There were many ruts eroded across the Rudy Ranch road on the way to White Wash. To our surprise, White Wash itself had also seen significant erosion. Much of the sand in the wash bottom has been washed away, leaving 1.5’ sand ledges throughout the wash. But the wash bottom itself was still moist, which made our ride south down the wash much, much easier.
We buzzed through Red Wash without even stopping and rode the whoops south to the entrance to the Dead Cow Loop. Whoops have a way of really warming you up.
The Dead Cow Loop is one of my favorite trails. I find sections challenging, but it is just so cool to ride through slot canyons in the middle of a desert. We were surprised at how much water was in the wash. The stream was even flowing slowly, so we got pretty drenched when we dropped off the first ledge into one of the deeper pools.
We took the high water exit out of the wash, and to our surprise we both made the climb up the steep sand hill without too much trouble. After reaching the river bottom, I took Jason back upstream to show him the tight trail through the tamarisk trees.
Our ride up “the Tubes” was much more challenging than on my last visit since there were pools of water below each of the ledges. Wet tires just don’t get the traction that dry slickrock usually provides.
On the first ledge, I missed the turn on top and dropped my bike as my handlebar hit the side of the cliff. Jason also struggled and lost traction, so I had to help push him up.
The next few ledges were straight forward. Most of them are easier than they look.
We then came to the hardest ledge which is on an angle. On our first trip, we had enough manpower to just lift our bikes up. On my second trip, the ledge was dry and someone placed a few rocks on the bottom to help bump the front wheel up. But this time the rocks were gone and the pool was pretty deep. After pondering our options, Jason decided to just go for it. He almost made it! With a little pulling on the front tire we got him up the ledge.
So it was my turn. As I approached the ledge I chickened out. I promised Kim we would be careful, and I didn’t want to risk an injury with just the two of us. So I inched my bike up the notch on the far left of the ledge. It actually turned out to be pretty easy way to get up.
We decided to enjoy the shade of the narrow canyon and enjoy a lunch break. While eating, another group came down the canyon. Rather than jump off the ledge into the pool of water below, one of the riders tried to skirt around the pool by riding the side of the canyon wall. His bike slid out from under him and tumbled about 6’ or 8’ into the pool of water. He slid down the steep wall behind his bike. To my surprise, he picked up his bike and just rode away. I wish I had my video camera rolling – it was a very amusing crash!
As we were exiting “the Tubes” section, I lost control in some deep sand. In order to avoid a large rock, I laid my bike down on the right side as I tumbled off to the left. Luckily it was a soft landing in the sandy wash bottom. As I was brushing the sand off of me, Jason crashed not 15’ away. We had a good chuckle and then continued on our way.
After crossing the “two miles of whoops”, we took the Tenmile Road (mislabeled Rudy Ranch in my TOPO software) and explored the Balanced Rock trail (not the same Balanced Rock as in Arches National Park, but similar). This is an intermediate level ATV trail that leads to a gorgeous view over the White Wash and Red Wash areas.
Rather than backtrack on the ATV trail, we took a single track route back down to the main road. There was one steep decent near the top, but otherwise the trail wasn’t too hard.
We then took the Mary’s Saddle single track trail across Red Butte. I really enjoyed this single track this spring, but the trail is getting pretty beat up since it is getting so much use now that it is marked with signs. Many dirt bikers seem to enjoy spinning their wheel at the top of each climb, which digs holes and kicks out rocks and boulders. For me, that took much of the fun out of the trail.
The trail also includes a section of slickrock. The steep slickrock climbs are really intimidating at first, but it is amazing how well dirt bikes climb on that rough sandstone.
I wanted to explore a trail called No Name Mesa. We took Brian’s Trail north to the turnoff for Mary’s Trail, then turned off of that at the No Name Mesa junction. No Name Mesa is open to ATVs, but I don’t think the ladies in our typically riding group would enjoy this trail at all. It was much more challenging than I expected.
I had hoped to ride No Name Mesa and Mary’s Trail, but I was getting too tired by this point (Jason made it clear that he was not tired). So we headed back to the car and returned to the motel for a nice soak in the hot tub before a wonderful dinner at the Tamarisk Restaurant. Another great day of dirt biking! 41 miles of pure fun!
Saturday, Oct 22: Crystal Geyser
We only had time for a short ride on Saturday since I needed to be back in Salt Lake by 5:00 PM for stake conference. We checked out of the motel and drove over to Crystal Geyser. Once again the geyser was not erupting. In all of my visits, I have only seen it erupt once – and that was on my very first visit.
We headed south along the Crystal Geyser single track trail. Again there were signs of erosion as some of the wash crossings were much steeper than usual. In some places the trail was washed away entirely.
We also found that the Jeep road through the area has been recently graded and they are installing power poles. I wonder if they are going to provide power at the campground that is planned for White Wash. (By the way, all of the main roads in the White Wash/Tenmile Wash area have been newly graded – which makes them loose and slippery on a dirt bike).
There is a section of this trail that I have not ridden (between waypoints CG3 and CG6). A few years ago Jamie and I came from the south, but abandoned the trail at CG6 due to a steep rocky climb that didn’t look fun. This time Jason and I came from the north, but we also decided to stop at a nasty looking climb near CG3. So that section still remains unexplored (by me).
We picked up the trail where Jamie and I bailed out. I had forgotten just how difficult this section of trail was. Jamie is pretty amazing to have ridden that section of trail – she may not have liked it – but she did it.
The Salt Wash road bisects the Crystal Geyser/Guy’s Trail loop. Due to our limited time, we opted to skip the southern half of the trail.
Riding Guy’s Trail north is more challenging than going south. There are a few ledges that we had to lift and pull our bikes up. With just the two of us, this took some doing. But we eventually made it and continued on our way.
At GT3 we decided to explore the Orange Trail rather than another tricky part of Guy’s Trail. I am not sure what the Orange Trail is, but I have map that shows it connecting many roads in the area and there are new signs marking the trail. Most of the trail is on easy roads.
This portion of the Orange Trail was very rough and rocky – not hard – just rough. So when it crossed the single track for the second time we decided to return to Guy’s Trail. This was a great choice because the ride back to the car was fast and very fun!
We loaded up the trailer and headed for home shortly after 1:00 PM. We arrived home about 4:30 PM – one half hour ahead of schedule.
It was a great trip. Too bad there weren’t more people along to enjoy it. We covered a lot of ground (about 130 miles) and explored some cool new trails.