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ATV Adventures: Riding the trail to Cedar Point

By Lynn Blamires - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Nov 4, 2021

Lynn Blamires, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Overlooking Poison Spring Canyon from Cedar Point.

Garfield County is one of the least populated counties in the state, but it is also one of the most scenic. Two of the nation’s most picturesque byways pass through this county.

Scenic Byway 12 — Utah’s All-American Road — is rated in the top 10 scenic byways in America by Car and Driver magazine. This unique route winds through slick rock canyons, red rock cliffs, alpine mountains, national and state parks, and quaint rural towns.

Scenic Byway 143, nicknamed Utah’s Patchwork Parkway, follows the historic migration route used by the ancient Anasazi. In 1864, pioneers took this road to Parowan, forced to walk on quilts to avoid sinking into the deep early winter snow. Their purpose was to obtain much needed flour to save their settlement from starvation. The now famous Quilt Walk is an annual celebration in Panguitch and is the reason for the byway’s nickname. This county also features the famous Hole-in-the-Rock pioneer trail and the beautiful Burr Trail.

The landscape is so rugged it is amazing that we have any roads that touch the heart of this spectacular backcountry. One is tempted to take one of the many dirt roads that branch off these highways. One might go to a remarkable overlook or a narrow slot canyon, but they are not to be taken on a whim. The news is full of people who didn’t plan for a particular backcountry adventure.

Highways 95 to Blanding and 276 to the Bullfrog Valley are no less scenic. It is at mile post 20 on Highway 95 south of Hanksville that we unloaded to ride to Cedar Point. It is the same place we staged to ride the Poison Springs Canyon Trail to the Dirty Devil River.

Lynn Blamires, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Looking down on the Dirty Devil River from Cedar Point.

Our starting point was on the west side of the highway. Riding east, we crossed over and passed Lone Cedar Reservoir — an unremarkable pond that I might have missed had I not seen it on the map.

Our ride to the point was fairly level, but it carved a track through a forest of cedar trees that was anything but boring. We passed a lot of dead cedars that lay scattered grotesquely beautiful on the ground. It is the kind of place that would be spooky to walk through late at night lit only by the light of a full moon.

It is interesting to note that this area is recognized officially as an International Dark Sky Park. This means there is no light pollution to dim seeing what the sky is really like at night. I would love to see the starry splendor of a night sky with no moon.

We continued our ride to the point, which was only 900 feet higher than where we started. However, nothing we saw along our ride to the point prepared us for the panorama that opened before us as we reached our destination.

It was the end of the trail because we could go no further. The point at which we stopped dropped off gradually to the edge of a cliff with a view of the Dirty Devil River far below. We didn’t want to ride to the edge because there was no trail to it.

Lynn Blamires, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Looking north into Poison Spring Canyon from Cedar Point.

We walked down to the edge for a better view. Standing where we were at 6,000 feet, we looked down 2,000 feet into Poison Spring Canyon. We were at a point downstream from the place we had crossed the river on our ride through that same canyon earlier.

There is a phenomenon that occurs when riding trails like this one. Our view was restricted to negotiating the nuances of the trail and the things we could occasionally see through the trees. Then in coming to the point, our view was suddenly unrestricted to where we could see for miles.

Looking down into the canyon, we could see the track of the Dirty Devil River as it snaked its way into Lake Powell, carving its way deeper into the canyon floor and gouging and shaping the canyon walls as it flowed. Even from here, the Dirty Devil is dirty.

Our guide, Ray Golden, pointed out land features until our panoramic palates were satisfied. Taking one last look, we headed back the way we came, finishing a ride of about 28 miles.

This trail is suitable for side-by-sides and jeeps and is available to ride when the mountain trails are out of season. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and enjoy this spectacular view of Poison Spring Canyon.

Contact Lynn R. Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.

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