About this time of year I get a bad case of cabin fever. Laying out my calendar for the year, I book up every free weekend and some of the days in between with ATV adventures. By the middle of August I realize what I have done to myself and resolve to be better next year. Maybe I should look for an ATVaholics Anonymous and try their 12-step program. On the other hand, why fight it?
As I reviewed my rides last year, I remembered a ride I took in the northern part of Kane County near Bryce Canyon. The ATV trail is named the Paunsaugunt, pronounced, "PAWN-suh-gant". I spent some time trying to find out the meaning of this word. As near as I can tell, the word means, "Great-place-to-ride-ATV". Isn't the Internet such a great tool?
Situated near the crystal-blue waters of Tropic Reservoir west of Bryce Canyon is the King Creek campground and the trailhead for the Paunsaugunt Trail. While the Paunsaugunt is an Indian name, other land features were named by the settlers.
We rode north along the East Fork of the Sevier River and turned left up Blue Fly Creek. This is an easy ride, one that can be enjoyed by those who drive side-by-side machines. The purpose of the ride is to enjoy the scenery, not to test your mettle.
The Paunsaugunt trail is laid out to touch on vistas of rock "hoodoos" outside the boundaries of Bryce Canyon National Park. The trail winds through stands of Ponderosa pines on the red dirt commonly found in Southern Utah. Hillsides are covered with Manzanita, a bush with smooth, orange-red bark and stiff, twisting branches.
We had climbed only 600 feet from the trailhead when we stopped at an overlook, taking a moment to enjoy an inspirational view of the Sunset Cliffs. Descending into a canyon, we turned right, following Badger Creek to the top of that canyon. Reaching the 9,100-foot level, we turned back to our left and followed Skunk Creek down to the valley. I could see that it was Skunk Creek on my GPS, but I wasn't going to say anything. I was too busy holding my breath.
In the valley, we turned south and then right again up Blubber Creek. Now how romantic is that name? Climbing up this canyon, we topped out at about 9,200 feet and followed the ridgeline to the top of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Once again we enjoyed breathtaking views of this picturesque country.
Turning down another canyon, we followed a branch of the Upper Kanab Creek down into Robinson Canyon. It was here that we came up against a huge tree that had fallen across the trail. Making our way around it, we had to be careful because of a deep rut in the middle of the trail. At the mouth of that canyon we picked up the Sevier Creek again and followed the gorge to the top. Following the crest, we came to a spectacular view of the Pink Cliffs and stopped to take a break.
Beginning our trip back to the trucks, we followed the rim over Crawford Pass and down into Dairy Hollow. Following the Sevier River, we passed the Podunk Guard Station. I thought it was a joke until I realized that it was situated near Podunk Creek. If it was named after the creek then it must be a pretty old joke.
As we continued our ride, we passed Blubber Creek and Skunk Creek into Long Hollow. We knew we were close to our staging area when we reached the south end of Tropic Reservoir where Badger Creek empties into the reservoir. We enjoyed riding along the edge of this scenic lake as we made our way back to the trucks completing an 82-mile loop.
You could say that we had had our ups and downs on this trip because we climbed one canyon and went down another, but that is part of what makes a great trip. When you go, take plenty of water, tread lightly, and keep the rubber side down.
You may contact Lynn Blamires at email@example.com.