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ATV Adventures: Fall colors and drama on the Mineral Point Mine Trail

By Lynn R. Blamires - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Oct 14, 2021

A Can Am UTV reflected off the surface of a no-name pond.

Every ride is more than just a ride – there is always a story. Every ride also has a different GPS track. Even if I have ridden a trail before, I always make a new track. Every time it turns out to be a new ride on an old trail and a new story.

I had been on the Mineral Point Mine Trail before, but it had been a long time. David Meentz, a long-time reader, sent me an email concerning the possibilities of changes that might affect access to the Mineral Point Mine.

I learned that there are about 8,000 acres of state trust lands that are going on the auction block. The trail goes across that land to the mine and on beyond down along Cinnamon Creek, where it ends at a church camp.

Talking with Chris Haller at State Parks and Recreation, I learned that just about anything can happen. This is a well-established trail that has seen OHV traffic for many years and should remain open. If it is a County D Road, the protection would come under county jurisdiction.

We decided to ride that trail together and check it out. Ted Burrell is another reader looking to ride with me. He bought an RZR earlier this year and I asked him to come along. Including my grandson, Mark, Don Moore, Dean Eborn, and Terry Maxfield, we had ourselves a “convoy” – 10-4, good buddy.

The trail takes off of Ant Flat Road about four miles north of Highway 39, which goes to Woodruff. There is a small staging area there, but we staged at the snowmobile parking lot just a little east of Ant Flat Road for more room.

We took a little connector trail out of the north side of the parking lot down to Ant Flat Road and turned north. It was four miles exactly to the turn.

The trail took us around a little no-name lake. The water was perfectly calm and Don’s Can Am reflected in the water as he passed by.

We came to a view point to the west at an elevation of about 7,400 feet, looking down into La Plata Canyon. The colors were amazing – a variety of greens, splashed with reds and yellows, tipped with orange. What a great day for a ride.

We soon came down to the Mineral Point Mine. While the buildings that supported the work of the mine had collapsed, there were still the remnants of an old compressor.

I was surprised to learn that the mine entrance is still open. David said that he had been back into the mine and he could see tracks that the ore cars used to carry out raw material to be processed. Silver ore was the primary purpose of the mine, with gold, copper and iron being secondary.

As we continued our descent, I noticed the remains of an old pickup truck upside down by a curve in the trail. I thought, “That must have been a bad day for someone.”

The trail took us down to Cinnamon Creek, which we followed into Scare Canyon to the boundary of the church camp. We stayed on the trail out of respect for some “No Trespassing” signs we saw along the way and enjoyed some very fun water crossings through the creek.

Turning around at the camp boundary, we headed back up the trail for a shady place to have lunch. We found the perfect place in a copse of trees above the mine.

Tummies topped off, we headed back to the trucks and that is when the drama began. I was behind Ted when I came over a ridge and saw him off to the left of the trail at a steep angle.

I learned that his RZR is an older model without power steering. His right front wheel hit a rock, wrenching the steering wheel out of his hands and sending his machine off the trail.

He was afraid to move because the RZR was at the tipping point. We attached straps to the upside of the roll cage to stabilize it, which allowed him to get out. We secured a strap to the front, Mark got in, and we pulled the RZR back onto the trail.

We finished a ride of about 33 miles. Ted was a little rattled – I am not sure how ready he is to go again. When you go, take plenty of water and keep the rubber side down – Ted did.

Contact Lynn Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.

Fall colors on the Mineral Point Trail.

A Can Am UTV reflected off the surface of a no-name pond.

Overlooking La Plata Canyon on the Mineral Point Trail

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