Last year we called it the Iron Man. It was a 250-mile ride on the Paiute ATV Trail in Central Utah that starts in Salina and passes through Koosharem, Marysvale, past the Fremont Indian State Park, and returns to Salina.
This year we changed the name to the Mountain Man because some of the people believed the name suggested trails that caused the rider to risk life and limb. Sixteen riders thought Mountain Man sounded less threatening.
We left the Country Inn motel and threaded our way through Beaver, Utah, on approved ATV routes to the south end of town. Turning east on the South River Road, we traveled about 10 miles to the trailhead for one of two trails that access the Paiute ATV Trail system from Beaver. Trail number 68 is a narrow two-track path that is not suitable for side-by-side OHVs. They planted the trees so close to the track that it is a squeeze for an ATV in some places.
We wedged our way up through stands of quaking aspen and tall pines, stopping at the top for a break. We had climbed to an altitude of about 9,500 feet; the sky was a deep blue, and the meadows were rich in wild flowers.
We pushed our way through the woods, enjoying the magic of the dense forest. Traveling through more meadows on the top of the mountain, we followed a track on the southern end of the trail system. Taking a scenic path around Puffer Lake, we wound our way down to Three Creeks Reservoir.
Back on the main trail, we passed through Big John's Flat and headed for the highest point on the Paiute Trail system. The path over the Tushar Mountains passes under the summit at about 11,400 feet. Winter has a tight grip at the summit, allowing only about a two-month window from mid-July to sometime in September to enjoy this unique experience.
The view from this spot is magnificent. To the south and west, ranks of mountain ranges stretch as far as the eye can see. The ski runs at Brian Head can be seen etched into the sides of the mountain. To the north, bare peaks stretch above the timberline, stark white and touched with a yellow that drew miners to Bullion Canyon. A herd of mountain goats often grazes these steep slopes. I have seen them before, but not this time.
After making our way down the canyon, we split the group with some spending the night in Marysvale and the others at Big Rock Candy Mountain. A shower and a hot meal completed a great first day ride.
We met at the rest area across from Hoover's the next morning to begin our second day. Heading up the Deer Creek Trail, we came to our first water crossing. I was surprised to find a series of long cement blocks forming a raised passage across the stream. The blocks were set about 4 inches apart to allow water to pass through while keeping ATVs from contacting the creek bottom. It was like riding on a huge piano keyboard.
We crossed four more "keyboards" before reaching the top. I later learned that this configuration answered concerns about the high number of OHVs crossing Deer Creek.
At the top we turned north past the Silver King Mine and down the Max Reed Trail (formerly the Joe Lott Trail) over more piano keys to Interstate 70. This was as far north as we planned to go and still make it back to our point of origin. We made a loop up over the Lower Kimberly back to the Silver King Mine and followed our original route over the Tushars down to Three Creeks Reservoir. Taking trail number 5 west from the reservoir, we followed a beautiful mountain stream for some distance before a scenic but technical ride down the gorge into Beaver.
The Mountain Man turned out to be about 170 miles, a little shorter than last year but no less enjoyable. When you go, take plenty of water, tread lightly, keep the rubber side down, and watch out for those trees.
You may contact Lynn Blamires at firstname.lastname@example.org