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ATV Adventures: Trouble on the 506 — an ATV adventure out of Richfield

By Lynn Blamires - | Sep 23, 2021

Image supplied, Lynn Blamires

Our route along the Paiute Trail near Richfield.

It was the second day of a two-day ride in Wayne County. The plan was to ride Thousand Lake Mountain. As we pulled into the staging area, it was raining — and not just a little. We sat in the truck and waited for the rain to subside. It didn’t, and we decided to head north to see if we could find a break in the weather.

The rain came down steadily until we were near Interstate 70. Pulling into Richfield for gas, the weather was beautiful. We couldn’t imagine that the riders on Thousand Lake Mountain were having a dry ride.

I knew a trail that goes west out of town up past a pink water tank. We unloaded at the edge of town and prepared to ride. I left my rain gear in the truck as it was perfect riding weather.

As we climbed up the mountain, we came across three trails that looked good, but all three had 50-inch width restrictions. My Kawasaki is 62 inches wide so we kept going.

Coming to the main trail, we turned north still looking for a side trail to explore. We hadn’t gone far when we found a trail marked with the number 506. By the number, I figured it was a Forest Service Road. Knowing that kind of trail wouldn’t have a width restriction, we decided to see where it would take us.

As we turned off on the trail, I looked and noticed something in the sky. I pointed it out to my riding buddy, Fred, and asked what he thought it was. “It looks like a storm cloud to me,” he said. That is not what I wanted to hear and I told him so.

This trail wound through the junipers on a fun trail into the backcountry. It wasn’t wide enough to handle oncoming traffic, but we weren’t encountering any on this backroad.

We came to a gate with a sign that read, “Keep Gate Closed.” I was driving so Fred was on gate duty. He opened the gate while I passed through and waited for him to close it.

Near the second gate, we came to a sign that read, “Road Damage Ahead.” We soon found out the purpose of the sign — the middle of the trail had been washed out. There was a rut that was at least 2 feet deep in places. Knowing what would happen if my front wheel dropped into that rut, I was doing my best to straddle it.

Shortly after Fred did his gate duty on the second gate, that black cloud burst wide open and we were caught out in it. I gauged the angle of the rain and turned my machine on the trail so that it wouldn’t hit us head on and shut off the motor.

Fred, once again, pointed out the advantages of a windshield as the slant of our machine had water pouring off the roof and down the roll bar on his side. He had to sit so that the stream didn’t run down on to his leg.

As the storm passed, the angle of the rain changed and I moved the UTV to adjust for it. Big mistake — in doing so, the jolt emptied the water that had puddled on the roof right into our laps.

Still, semi-dry, we waited out the storm. It finally cleared and we were back on the trail. We could see the reason for the rut we had straddled: the water was gushing down the middle of the trail.

With the rain stopped, we could see the beauty of the trail again as we wound our way back to the main Paiute trail. That was enough adventure for one day, so we headed back to the truck. In completing our loop, we found ourselves in the middle of the storm again.

Gritting our teeth, we worked our way down the mountain. It was still raining as we loaded up. We headed for home having finished a semi-dry ride of 27 miles.

In 29 years of riding ATVs in the backcountry, it seems like I keep making the same mistakes, like leaving my rain gear in the truck. I later learned that for those who went on the Thousand Lake ride, the rain stopped just as they started and the sun came out for a dry ride.

When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and on a clear day, try the 506.

Contact Lynn Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.


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