Bear Lake (Ranger Dip, Monte Cristo) Trip Report – Sept 2012

Sept. 1-3, 2012

The Barton’s were kind enough to invite us and the Bradley family to their cabin again this year.  We really lucked out on weather – we got a heavy rainstorm Friday night, which helped settle the dust down.  It cleared up in the morning, so we could enjoy our Saturday ride.  It rained again Saturday afternoon – just after we finished our ride.

Saturday, Sept. 1: Ranger Dip

For some time I have wanted to ride the Ranger Dip ATV trail just west of Fish Haven.  I read someone’s trip report and they referred to the trail as “ATV Heaven”.  I think our group would choose a slightly different name…

That trip report also indicated that there was a steep, rocky section that dirt bikers would want to walk their bikes down rather than ride.  I couldn’t imagine walking a bike down being safer than riding.  And after riding the trail, I still have no clue what that author was talking about.

The trail is steep.  And the trail is rocky.  But luckily, it was seldom steep AND rocky at the same time.  This turned out to be an advanced trail – especially for ATVs.  Dirt bikes could somewhat pick a line that dodged the largest of the rocks – but the ATVs pretty much had to just bounce their way through.  This is a trail where power steering would make a huge difference.

The Ranger Dip GPS track

We began our ride at about 11:00 AM.  We started later than usual in order to let the night’s rain dry out somewhat. The conditions were ideal – moist, tacky soil, and perfect temperatures.

We unloaded our bikes and ATVs at the Beaver Creek trailhead near Beaver Mountain ski resort (left on the map).  The ride up Beaver Creek is easy (green) and scenic.  Just past the Beaver Creek campground (which always seems to be vacant), we turned right on trail #494.  Within about one block, we hit a rutted rocky section where the ATVs needed assistance to pass.  This two-mile long trail was fairly rocky the entire way, but that first section was the worst.

Regrouping at the intersection of trails #494 and #414

We then turned right on trail #414.  I would rate this trail as intermediate (blue).  It was semi-rocky, but not overly technical.  Some sections were quite fun, and there were some nice scenic vistas of Bear Lake.

The view from trail #414

We then traveled the Swan Flat gravel road (#1151) to the beginning of the Ranger Dip trail (#304).  The trail started off pretty fun.  It climbed the steep mountain with numerous switchbacks as the trail meandered through the pines.  Once over the top, the trail descended the other side, with similar steepness.  This section was a little rocky.  We stopped near the Ranger Dip pond for lunch.  No one wanted to ride back up the steep hill we just came down, so we pressed on.

Lunch stop near Ranger Dip pond

Following lunch, we immediately came to a very rocky stretch.  While we helped the ATVs through the rocks, Kevin went on ahead and used our helmet radios to inform us of the trail conditions ahead.  The trail offered a variety of easy cruising, steep climbs and descents, and super rocky sections.  It also offered some scenic views, but not as many as I expected due to the thick forest.

View from the Ranger Dip trail

Resting before the steep section

About two thirds of the way along the trail the terrain became even steeper.  There were a few tight switchbacks that caused the ATVs some grief, including one roll-over.

It was fairly late in the day when we finally reached the bottom.  Everyone was tired, and a storm was brewing.  We had only ridden 17 miles, but it felt more like 50.

A view of the lake when we emerged from the trees

Storm clouds approaching

We choose not to complete our planned loop (by going back up Fish Haven canyon, then down Beaver Creek).  Scott led us on a tour of the beautiful cabins in the area while we tried to find a dirt road leading back to the cabin.  We finally gave up and went out on the highway for a few miles.  We eventually made it back to the cabin.  The ride through the cabin areas was almost as long as the Ranger Dip ride – but much easier.

Home at last

Since my bike is street legal, I took the highway back to Beaver Creek to fetch our car.  Scott and Paul got a ride from Rodney.  We arrived at the car just as the rain started to come.  What timing!

Everyone was pretty exhausted by the time we reached the cabin, but attitudes perked up nicely after a wonderful dinner.

Monday, Sept. 3: Monte Cristo

Everyone had time commitments and needed to be home at a decent hour on Labor Day.  The ladies weren’t too interested in riding again since the ride Saturday was so challenging.  So, some of us chose to ride part way home; starting from the cabin and riding to Monte Cristo.  Those that didn’t ride finished cleaning the cabin and then drove the cars around via Woodruff and met us at the Curtis Creek trailhead.

The ride was about 60 miles long, and we wanted to finish in about 3 hours.  It took us 3.5 hours, with only a few short rest stops.

Monte Cristo GPS track (part 1)

The trail from the Barton cabin to Logan Summit has been somewhat improved since I rode it last.  It is just over 6 miles long and is semi-rocky.

From the highway underpass we rode the main gravel road (#3) south at a pretty fast pace.  We had to pay close attention since there were numerous potholes in the road and a lot of holiday traffic.

At Temple Flat we deviated from the main road and explored ATV trail #51.  What a blast!  This trail was really fun on dirt bikes.  The trail zigzagged through the trees and occasionally opened up for some great views.  This trail might not be quite as fun on an ATV, but it isn’t overly technical.  I loved this section!

After rejoining the main road, we worked our way south via #3, #50, and #52.  At Bug Lake we turned on to trail #5, which took us the rest of the way to Curtis Creek.

This portion of the ride was fast and easy.  The roads were in amazing condition.  There was much less traffic, the road was narrower, and it had numerous twists and turns – just enough to keep things interesting.  It wasn’t just a ‘boring’ gravel road – it was swift cruising through some gorgeous country.

We arrived at our destination a little later than planned, but it turns out the cars were also late.  They arrived there about one minute before we did.  How is that for perfect timing!

These trails are the kind the ladies would love on their ATVs.  We need to plan a return trip and explore more this beautiful area.

Monte Cristo GPS track (part 2)

Monte Cristo GPS track (part 3)

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About gardinerfamilyadventures

A really great family!
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3 Responses to Bear Lake (Ranger Dip, Monte Cristo) Trip Report – Sept 2012

  1. Jared says:

    I am super Jealous this is a trail I have been wanting to ride for a long time and from your report it sounds like it was a ton of fun. Thanks for the report!

  2. Jim says:

    Your web site and content give new meaning to the phrase “trip report” … excellent

  3. Pingback: Bear Lake Shake Run – Sept 2015 | Gardiner Family Adventures

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