ATV Adventures: Drama on Utah's Eagle Canyon Trail

Thursday , June 08, 2017 - 5:00 AM

By Lynn R. Blamires

Some may think I am stuck in a rut because I keep riding some of the same trails.

Riding in the San Rafael Swell has never been a disappointment, either for the trail or the scenery. However, I have some friends who have come up from Arizona for the last 12 years expecting me to take them out on trails they have never ridden before. With the winter we have had, the upper elevations are still thawing out. That being said, temperatures can be pretty warm in the Swell as we get into June.

When I take people out on a trail I have ridden before, I see it new through their eyes. That was the case with the Eagle Canyon Trail. Except, on this trip, there was some drama.

We staged at exit 131 off Interstate 70 and headed for Swasey’s Cabin. The weather was perfect — cloudy and cool. The trail is called the Temple Mountain Road and we followed signs to the cabin. There was no drama here.

We reached the cabin and the restroom with the door that doesn’t lock. No drama here, unless you count the few bars of an old prospector tune that I belted out to let people know that the facility was in use. There were looks on my friend’s faces when I came out. Actually, I made that up, but that would have qualified for drama. It just didn’t happen.

We did take time to walk down the “Ice Box Trail” while we were at the cabin. Behind the west side of Swasey’s cabin, there is a slot canyon that maintains some very cool temperatures throughout the year. The Swasey brothers used it to keep perishables cool. Once you get down there on a warm day, you won’t want to come out.

Continuing our ride, we followed the trail down into the canyon and stopped at the Eagle Canyon Arch. It is such an amazing arch and a stop I always enjoy making. There was no drama here.

We made our way under the bridges to the buck-and-pole fence marking the intersection of three trails. I had planned to stop under the bridges for lunch, but it was too early in the day — still no drama.

Eric asked, “Where does that trail go?”

He was indicating the trail that goes up to Justesen Flats. I told him,and he suggested that we go up. I remembered there was a grove of trees near the flats that would make a good place to stop for lunch.

We started up the trail. The track became a little more challenging than I had remembered it to be. Eric’s daughter, Lexie, and son, Rex, handled it well. However, when his wife, Debra, called out to Eric for help, I turned and saw her stopped, clutching the brake, with one wheel high in the air and the machine tipping precariously. Here was drama.

Eric came quickly to where she was and took over the handlebars and grabbed the brake. I helped hold the machine while Debra got off. Eric then rode up to a spot that was safe to stop.

It was then that I remembered the last thing Eric said when we were planning this ride. It was something like, “Now I want to take some nice, easy trails because I am bringing my wife and kids with me.” His 7-year-old daughter, Abigail, was riding on a machine with Eric. She said, “Let’s find some more cool stuff.”

The trees near the flat provided the perfect place for lunch. We enjoyed our break and headed back the way we came. Going down was easier than going up.

We passed the arch and turned south out of the canyon. I took a turn that I had been looking for when I last rode this trail. It took us onto the edge of a spectacular overlook. The view was north into the Swell, deep down into a canyon with layers of snow-capped mountains in the distance.

This track was about 53 miles long and is suitable for side-by-sides.

When you go take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and be prepared for drama.

Contact Lynn Blamires at

Sign up for e-mail news updates.