A Day On The Arapeen Trail

Few things are more exhilarating than heading out on a trail that you have never ridden before. Every turn is a brand new adventure. That’s why the chance to get seat time in a machine I have never ridden (the Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail) on a trail system I have only scratched the surface of was a dream come true for a 50-inch trail junkie like me. While not as well-known as the Paiute Trail System, the Arapeen Trail System is packed with incredible 50-inch trails – perfect for a day of riding, switching between the Wildcat and a Polaris RZR 800. A small group – which consisted of Eric Nelson, Jeff Baker, Ron Nelson (Eric’s dad) and me – planned a day of riding to explore and have fun.

We wanted to get an early start so we could spend at least six or seven hours on the trail. So we loaded up first thing in the morning and hit the road for the hour-and-a-half ride to Mayfield, Utah. Mayfield is one of many small towns that have canyon access to the Arapeen Trail System. We parked near the Twelve Mile Canyon entrance in a staging area where we took some pictures and prepped for the day’s ride.

 

Arapeen Trail System

The first few minutes of the ride were on the main Twelve Mile Canyon dirt road which has multiple break-off routes on both sides. We went right on trail #2 until it ran into trail #23, which was our first of many 50-inch width restricted trails. Here is an outline of the trip that we did:

Trip route highlighted

You can request a free map of the area here.

Trail Marker

Trail #23 was very cool. Some extremely tight corners, several short but steep hill climbs, and a 50-inch bridge crossing were just a few of the things that got me really excited.

Seeing that this was Jeff’s first time driving a UTV, we stopped a few times to get some photos documenting him having a life-changing experience.

Jeff In Wildcat

We connected with trail #22, which had several muddy sections, some of which could be avoided and a few which could not.

UTV Muddy Trail

Eventually, we started to climb up some switchbacks to reach the top of the mountain and access Skyline Drive (road #1 on the map), which is a dirt road that rides the top of the Manti-La Sal Mountain Range. A brief jaunt on Skyline Drive and we reached trail #29, which was by far my favorite trail we hit during the ride.

Riding On Twelve Mile Canyon Landslide

12 Mile Canyon Landslide
Trail #29 rides along the Twelve Mile Canyon Landslide and has some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. The very first part of the trail coming from the south is a very steep descent. As always, pictures have a hard time showing how steep a trail is, so all I can say is I am glad we did not run into anyone who was on their way up. In fact, not long after we reached the bottom, we passed a small group of guys getting ready to head up on their bikes – good timing for all of us.

Wildcat on Steep Trail

After the steep descent, we made our way across the slide area. This trail is narrow and has wood trail markers throughout, including several bridges that allow you to cross portions of the trail that stay wet year-round, which preserves this beautiful area.

50inch Vehicle Bridge

On our right, we could see where the landslide took place, and on our left, we could see the incredible regrowth where trees have been growing for years right in the middle of the landslide’s aftermath. In the second picture below, you can see where the landslide has left areas for runoff to pool on what used to be the side of the mountain.

Land Slide On Right
Ponds On Landslide

After trail #29, we found a nice place to stop for lunch where Eric went in depth on how CVT transmissions work and what makes them so great for UTVs and big bore quads. He and his dad also told us stories about how they used to ride these trails on their Honda 300EX and dirt bikes.

Ferron and Duck Fork Reservoirs

Ready to hit the trails again, we continued along trail #29 until we merged with forest road #21, which then connected with trail #2. Near Twelve Mile Flat, we took a left on Skyline Drive and then a quick right which put us on trail #7 headed towards Ferron Reservoir. These open dirt roads were a fun place to sit back and enjoy the nice smooth ride of a UTV.

Driving Polaris RZR 800

Our goal was to circle around both Ferron and Duck Fork Reservoirs so that we could ride on trail #72, which is another great 50-inch trail.
Both of these reservoirs are fairly easy to access just off of Skyline Drive and would be a great place for a basecamp of an extended multi-day camping and riding trip.

Like most summer days in the high mountains, things can get a bit chilly, and there is almost always a chance of rain. We came prepared with extra layers and some rain slickers just in case, which we stopped to put on because it was getting cold and we ran into a tiny bit of rain. Also during this portion of the ride, we stopped a few times to take pictures. Here, you can see Eric with his dad posing in front of the RMATV/MC RZR 800. In the image below it, you can see Eric as he takes off and tells us to catch up.

Taking picture next to UTV

Ericridingoff

This portion of the trail has a few very narrow sections where we went slowly, maneuvering through fallen trees where the trail goes down a ravine. I was very glad we had the Tusk Aluminum Suicide Doors on the RZR while passing one obstacle where a huge tree had fallen on one side of the trail. The trail sloped heavily towards the fallen tree, which of course had spike-like branches directed right at my passenger, Jeff. This was the only part of the ride where I was actually nervous, since I was a little worried we might slip or roll into the tree. Knowing we had a the protection of the door made me much more comfortable. We carefully picked our line and made it past just fine.

UTV Crossing River

The Last Leg

The last leg of our ride consisted of hitting Skyline Drive for a few hundred feet before taking a right on trail #38, a left on #39 and then a left again on #35. This sent us south towards Twelve Mile Canyon. We had several different routes we could take that would lead back to the trucks. We of course opted for the longest 50-inch trail available: #2. This trail was really fun; much of it consists of 4½ miles of great 50-inch trail. The trail weaves down the mountain with several switchbacks and narrow portions of trail where we eased our way through obstacles on each side of the UTV. Towards the top of trail #2, there is a portion of the trail that was surrounded by a huge meadow of yellow flowers which were stunning.

 

UTV In Meadow
Exiting Mountains

In the end, we ended up at the Pinchot staging area where we jumped on the main Twelve Mile Canyon road and headed back to the trucks.

The End of a Great Day

This ride was incredibly fun for so many reasons; I got to spend an entire day switching back and forth between two spectacular machines on trails I had never ridden. I primarily ride ATVs, so spending an entire day behind the wheel of a UTV on these tight trails was an absolute blast and really helped solidify for me that my next machine will be a trail-width UTV.

I also loved how comfortable the UTVs were on this long of a ride. Eric’s dad, who is in his seventies, drove his new RZR like a pro the entire time, often waiting patiently for Jeff or me to maneuver past a rock or tree. His RZR has truly extended his ability to ride in comfort on technical trails like this for years to come. Last but not least, nothing compares to a UTV when it comes to bringing a passenger and gear. For the last two hours of the ride, Jeff and I rode in the RZR together and loved it. UTVs give you the ability to communicate so much better than on another machine; it truly changes the whole dynamic of a trip.

Outside of a little fender bender in the Wildcat with a fallen-down tree, we had no issues.

Broken Door

If you are looking for a great place to ride with trails that have options for every level of driving skill, you can’t go wrong with the Arapeen Trail System.

If you have a great trip report of your own that you would like to share, you can contact us here.

By Jared Oldham