A Trip To Remember

Six machines, hundreds of miles of trails and some of the most beautiful mountain views you can imagine are just a few reasons why my three-day trip along the Paiute trail will be a ride I will never forget.

Beaver Mountains
Quick break after reaching the top of trail #68
ATV Trail
Beautiful panorama of a section of trail where the trees had died.

If you have been riding for years, sometimes rides are hard to remember; trips meld together, and details get a little fuzzy. But occasionally you take part in a ride that leaves a lasting impression on you. Months after the ride, you can still envision yourself taking turns and avoiding obstacles just like it was yesterday. It’s rides like those that we live for; they are the reason we clean, repair and prep for hours before riding. Words, pictures, videos and hours of talking about it seem like feeble attempts to describe something that can only be truly appreciated with firsthand experience. While I know nothing can truly explain what riding this trail is like, I hope this article will spark your interest and set in motion plans of your own to visit this epic trail system

The Paiute Trail system is a 300-mile loop on the #01 with thousands of break-off trails make up some of the best riding you can ever experience, with hundreds of options for almost any machine. (Note: Many trails are limited to 50″-wide machines, so get a trail map.) You can find more information about the trail and it’s sections by following this link and a more detailed description of the trail by following this one.

This is a highlighted map of each trail we went on, color coded by day with X marking where we camped. Blue=Day 1, Green=Day 2, Red=Day 3

2013 Paiute Trail Trip

Wednesday night, we arrived late just next to Big Rocky Candy Mountain where we parked our truck. We had already strapped down our packs, so we quickly unloaded and hit the trail. Part of our crew was already on the mountain, so we headed towards camp. The trail leading up was a ton of fun (trail #74); I wished it had not been dark so that I could have gotten a few pictures, but it was a great 30-minute ride. It was hard to not want to just keep going through the whole night. We arrived to a warm fire near Spring Gulch and chatted for a few hours before hitting the sack.

Day 1 camping spot
We packed all of our gear on our machines, so it takes some time to take everything down and strap it to our quads.

Day 1 On The Piaute Trail

I really loved our first camping spot: just a quick ride down a side trail and we had this beautiful meadow all to ourselves. The first day, our objective was to ride from Spring Gulch to Beaver at the western end of the trail system, eat lunch, and head back up on top to camp near Betensen Flat. This first part of our ride was absolutely incredible: mountain roads with amazing views. We drove along trail #01 until it met with bottom half of #26.

Utah Mountain Road
Timberline dirt road

Trail #26 is a fun loop open only to machines 50″ or less. After doing the loop, we jumped on #5, which leads all the way down to Beaver. Several sections of the trail are black diamonds with very tight switchbacks and other technical obstacles, all of which can be ridden by a medium-to-experienced rider. The trail was steep enough that we had to stop to fill a machine that could not get any fuel.

Filling Up ATV with Gas
Stopping to fill up on the trail
ATV Riders Group Picture
Left to right: Jay, Steve, Mike and Joe. I am the one taking the picture.

After several hours of riding, we made it to Beaver just in time for some great food at El Bambi Cafe. We had a small hiccup with one of the machines when it did not want to shift. Luckily, Beaver is very ATV-friendly; so we cruised around town and got some tools that we didn’t have with us from the hardware store. The proprietor even walked me back into his saw mill and let me borrow one of his extensions, which was very kind of him. We tightened some linkage and we were back in business. This setback gave us a much later afternoon start, so we checked the map, chose a new potential camp spot and set out. We hurried across town to head up one of my favorite trails on the planet: #68. This trail is a two-track trail with width barriers.

ATV going through gate
Heading into size-restricted two-track trail

Make sure you are in a machine of 50″ or less. (Some ATVs and 50in UTVs with aftermarket tires may be too wide to fit. Make sure you measure your machine before going.) One of the reasons I love this trail so much is the steep climbs and narrow trail which is so tight that you are often slowly maneuvering through trees, rock or mountain on each side. Below, you can see the RZR climbing a steep narrow section.

50
The RZR 800 fit perfectly on these trails.

One section of the trail gets so much runoff that they have to build a small bridge across the cut.

Once we made it back on top of the mountains, we were hit with a very hard downpour of rain that lasted at least an hour. Finally, trail #68 eventually meets with #88, which we followed a short distance and found a camping spot near Betenson Flat. The rain stopped just after we started to pitch our tents, and once we got the fire going and camp set up, we started to dry out our gear. I suggest taking either waterproof packs or putting everything in your pack inside a plastic bag. One of my plastic bags was not tied tight enough, and some of the water leaked into the bag and got my sleeping bag wet. Luckily, I was able to dry it out before we went to bed. At each camping spot, someone had built some lean-tos. Had it not been so rainy, I would have liked to sleep in one, but without a spare tarp, I thought better of the idea.

Teepee

More photos from our first day riding:

Yamaha Grizzly Wheelie
Mike having some fun on the trail

Day 2 on the Paiute Trail

We had a bit of late start the second morning, I think we were all a little worn out from staying up late drying gear and not being in good riding shape. Despite riding regularly, I am amazed at how hard an entire day of riding is on my body. With time and miles to make up, we hit the trail taking #88 until it meets the #01, which leads to Circleville. The #01 out of Circleville takes you past Kingston historical recreation area, which is a great place to stop, take pictures and rest. There is a picnic table and restrooms which would make it a great to stop to eat if you are packing all of your own food.

Kingston Canyon, UT
Kingston Canyon Recreation Area Sign
Kingston historical marker
Kingston Recreation Area

We continued on the #01 until it meets trail #73, which leads down to Otter Creek Reservoir. This is also a very steep black diamond trail with incredible views and switchbacks. We stopped in Otter Creek to eat lunch and fill up on fuel. The small general store was great; good food and ancient gas pumps made the experience even better.

Otter Creek Gas Station
Each of us had to go inside to have them reset the pump before the next person could use it.

Rather than backtracking on #73 the entire time, we opted to loop on trail #61. This portion of the trail had some of the steepest switchbacks of the week. During one section, we stopped to help each other on a switchback that is cut out of rock with a lip big enough to flip a machine if you are not careful. We had a spotter watch the front wheels and keep them down while cruising past this obstacle. This trail also has some of the best rock formations lining the trail – definitely worth stopping and exploring. I would really like to come back and do this loop both ways up and down each direction for a day ride or part of a weekend trip. Our goal was to reach Upper Box Creek before dark, but we were unable to make it all of the way. We found an impromptu camping spot where trails #01 and #54 meet. We pitched camp and spent the rest of the evening discussing the trip and plans for next year.

Day 3

We started out Saturday morning bright and early. We wanted to hit as many trails as possible before we needed to head back to our trucks. The first part of the morning was really a ton of fun. I had been excited all week to ride on trail #33 which is where #54 leads to. These two trails only cover a few miles but take a decent amount of time to travel with very steep sections. This was by far my favorite trail of the trip.

steepclimbs01

Cut Short

Sadly, at the tail end of trail #33, my machine started to overheat. With it being so steep, we would drive, and then I had to shut it off and wait until it cooled down. Once we made it back to the #01, we ran some tests and decided I should head back. Luckily, Mike volunteered to tow me back, allowing the other guys in our crew to hit one more trail on their way back to the trucks. The tow back a long trail #01 and then #02 took a very long time. It was tough to see so many break-off trails along the way and just cruise past them. Our crew caught up with us about five miles outside of Hoovers, which was great timing. We loaded up the machines, grabbed dinner and hit the road.

IMG_3164

Lessons learned along the way

Carrying everything you are taking on your machine is a lot of fun but does require that you pack pretty light. Stick with your essentials and avoid bringing excess gear. I thought I packed pretty light, and there were still several items I never used and did not need to bring.

Things I should have left:

  • 1 pair of shoes: I thought I might need a pair for each day in case it was wet. It rained a ton, but I was able to switch between 2 pairs easily.
  • Less food: I packed three meals for each day and lots of snacks and treats for the trail. With big lunches in town and snacks, I could have carried a lot less food.
  • Water bottle: In my case, this was redundant as I had a water reservoir pack in my backpack, and the extra bottle was just excess – especially since we were carrying extra gallons of water on our machines.
  • Smaller sleeping pad: In the image below, you will see a large black back bag on the back of my machine. 80% of its bulk was a sleeping pad that took up to much space and did not really add any additional comfort.

Things I should have brought:

  • Full rain gear: I had a long poncho, but it rained hard and long enough that having pants would have been great.
  • Tow strap: I was under the assumption that someone else had one, so I left mine in the truck. I know what assuming does…
  • Another GoPro: While I did have a GoPro running most of the ride, it would have been great to have another rider with one. I won’t forget this next year.

 

ATV with supplies
Three days of food, camping gear, and camera equipment – and one very large sleeping pad

Tires

Our tires held up really well this year. We only had one flat which we were able to patch quickly and hit the trail in under ten minutes. Whenever I go for a ride, I like to keep a portable repair kit and if possible an electric pump handy. At minimum, take the repair kit in your jacket with a manual pump. Luckily, the RZR had tons of space, allowing us to carry an electric pump with us.

ATV Flat Tire
Fixing flat with a repair kit and portable air compressor

Fuel

Refueling
Refueling on the trail with the RotopaX 4-gallon gas can

Because we often had to go many miles between towns, we all carried at least two gallons of fuel. Depending on the routes you take, you can avoid carrying your own gas; know your range and plan accordingly. The RotopaX 2-gallon combo is perfect. It allows you to carry water and gas in a flat container on your machine, you can potentially stack these on top of each other and avoid coming off the mountain all together. I liked our route which took us through a town each day, which allowed for some decent food and getting to know locals.

Unfinished Business

I left some unfinished business to be done that I hope to take care of this spring – namely the northern trail #68 and trail #66. The entire trip was absolutely incredible; the terrain offers every type of riding: easy cruising trails that are friendly for any level of rider to narrow, technical mountain ascents. So no matter what type of machine or type of trail you like to ride, there is something along this trail system that is designed for you. Another great aspect of this trail is the diversity of terrain. Despite having lived here most of my life, I am still surprised by how much the landscape can change within such a small distance. Here are some photos to help illustrate that.

Aspens
Aspen Grove headed out of Otter Creek
Utah Desert Trail
Desert trail
Meadow Paiute ATV Trail
Gorgeous meadow close to second camping spot

Group Picture-1

Have you ridden the Paiute Trail system? What is your favorite trail? Tell us about it in the comments!

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By Jared Oldham