ATV Adventures: Lessons learned on the Millville Canyon Trail
The trail was black on the map, meaning that it was more difficult. The rocks on this trail made it blacker than usual.
I was leading a group of three machines up Millville Canyon just southeast of Logan. Our goal was to reach Garden City by Bear Lake, have a burger and a raspberry shake and come back.
Three machines — I didn’t think I needed any elaborate tracking system with only three machines — right? Wrong. And I would have been right if I had been stopping at every place there was an intersection that might suggest another route. I was so busy playing the dodge-the-rock game that I passed one of those questionable intersections and got too far ahead.
I stopped at the next intersection and waited, and waited, and waited some more. Worried that they might have had some mechanical problems, we decided to go back.
That meant traversing the rock garden again. The ride was fruitless — we didn’t find the missing riders and I was not happy with a third trip through the rock garden.
Back at the intersection, we waited a little longer. Leaving someone at the junction, I rode out on the trail that went east. It took me to the edge of a deep canyon where the view was breathtaking. Looking over the edge, the drop was straight down for hundreds of feet. It was a beautiful canyon.
As it turned out, the lost riders weren’t lost at all — they were just lost to us. While we made the fruitless trip back down the canyon, they had turned off on another trail that proved to be a dead-end. We passed that turn when we went looking for them. When we came back, they had already moved on.
With the time we took to look for them, they were well ahead of us, so we continued our ride. At this point, the trail had smoothed out considerably and it was fun to ride the trail through the thick woods with the sun flashing through the leaves.
Coming to another intersection, we stopped to take stock. According to the map, the trail to the left would take us up to Old Ephraim’s Grave — an 11-foot-high monument made to honor a massive grizzly bear that roamed this area in the early 1900s. That trail would continue on to Garden City. The trail to the right would take us down to Black Smith’s Fork. It was about 12:30 p.m. and we had given up on the idea of trying to make it to Garden City for lunch, so we took the turn down to the fork.
The trails were busy on this Labor Day weekend. We had already met a lot of traffic on this narrow trail and had negotiated passage with several trucks and other side-by-sides. I say narrow because it wasn’t wide enough for two-way traffic.
It is obvious that people have discovered Utah’s backcountry. Since I made the ride last year from Kanab to Kamas, I have seen a noticeable increase in traffic on ATV trails.
As we made our way down to Black Smith’s Fork, we encountered more UTVs coming up the trail. Approaching a blind corner, a RZR suddenly appeared out of nowhere. We both came quickly to a stop just a couple of feet short of a head on collision. That was scary close and enough excitement for one day.
We came out on the highway and because our machine was street legal, we rode into Nibley. Turning back up the canyon at Millville to our truck at the mouth of Millville Canyon, we finished a ride of about 50 miles.
What did I learn? If you have a group of more than one, you need to have a plan to stay together. With a small group, it is best to stop at turns that could confuse the riders. I also learned to be extra careful on blind corners and to not to go when traffic is so heavy.
Just as we got to the truck, we got a text from the missing riders with a picture of a raspberry shake. The message read, “Wish you were here.” Knowing that they were safe, we loaded up and looked for a place to eat. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and don’t take Millville Canyon — come up from Black Smith’s Fork. It will make for a much more enjoyable ride.
Lynn R. Blamires can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.