Several years ago, Jamie and I explored some of the trails between Soldier Summit and Strawberry Reservoir. Ever since that day I have wanted to take Kim riding in the area to enjoy the beautiful scenery. I thought it would be an excellent ride during the fall when the autumn colors were at their prime. Since this year has been so dry, the colors probably wouldn’t be that great, but we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather on Saturday anyway. Unfortunately, the atmosphere was really quite hazy, so the views weren’t as great as they could have been.
The trip was planned with fairly short notice, so I was surprised at the great turnout we had. Riders included;
- Gardiner; Dee, Kim, Jamie, and Jason
- Wrights; Taylor, Jason, Rachel, and Brady
- Barton; Scott, Terri, Allyson, Andrew, Peter, and Rodney
Our original plan was to start our ride at Soldier Summit and ride a 35 mile loop on fairly easy roads. At the last minute we decided to start from the Tie Fork rest stop. This added a 7.7 mile ATV trail to our route, which we rode both directions, bringing the ride total to about 53 miles in length.
Tie Fork sits at about 6100’ elevation and Strawberry Peak comes in at about 10,300’. Our ride involved just over 8000’ of vertical climbing (and descent, since it was a loop).
This map shows the OHV trails in the area. Highway 6 through Spanish Fork Canyon is the reddish line in the lower left corner. Tie Fork, our starting point, is on near the left edge of the map along the highway. Soldier Summit is near the bottom of the map, just prior to where the highway leaves the page.
Our primary route is the green (easy) route made up of trails 131, 754, 147, and 81, with a spur (200) up to Strawberry Peak.
Trail 117 (blue = intermediate) is the ATV that connects Tie Fork to our primary loop. Most of trail 117 is fairly easy and fun, but there are a few very steep, long stretches that are covered in loose shale rock. Going up wasn’t a problem, but coming down proved to be a challenge. Those flat, loose, rock chunks tend to just slide over one another, making it difficult to maintain control. It was a challenge both for the bikers and those on ATVs.
Near the top of 117, there were some nasty erosion ruts that weren’t there last year. Ruts like this are especially intimidating for those on ATVs. Whenever you had to cross a rut, you were at risk of rolling.
When we reached trail 131, we turned left and began the climb up to Willow Creek Ridge. We stopped just before the top at a scenic overlook.
We turned right on Willow Creek Ridge (754) and stopped for lunch in a nice shady campsite in the aspen trees. Peter entertained us with his tree climbing skills while we ate.
754 connects with 147, which led us to the spur (200) to Strawberry Peak. These were all decent roads. There were some minor erosion ruts that prevented high-speed travel, but nothing too challenging.
The air temperature was noticeably cooler at these high altitudes. Kim’s ATV also noticed the change as it was frequently backfiring when she decelerated.
We returned to trail 147. Well, at least most of us did. Taylor, Rachel, and Brady continued on 200, not realizing we needed to go down the way we came up. After realizing they went the wrong way, I chased Taylor down, honking my squeaky horn trying to get him to stop. He finally stopped and wondered what the squeak was.
Trail 147 leads to 81 at Reservation Ridge. These are all easy roads and we made good time completing the loop. Many in the group were tired by the time we got to Soldier Summit, so I offered to let people stop there while the rest of us fetched the cars. No one took me up on the offer.
So, we rode up the lower portion of 131 and went back down 117. Scott, Andrew, and Peter wanted some variety, so they took trail 311 down the mountain. That is a fun trail, but I thought it might not be good for the ATVs. Last year I rode up it with Jamie and Jason. There was a deep, muddy rut for about 2 miles. Jason got stuck for at least ½ hour. I thought the ATVs would not like that rut.
The ruts and steep descents on 117 caused a few minor mishaps and increased the tension level. Luckily, everyone made it down safely.
I think everyone was pretty tired when we got back to the cars. 53 miles, even on mostly easy roads, makes for a full day. The ride had some variety, so I think everyone found something that they enjoyed – and perhaps a section or two that they didn’t enjoy. We loaded up the cars and headed for home, arriving just in time for dinner.