ATV Adventures: Spanish Fork Canyon — Gateway to Utah’s OHV trails
Friends from Arizona have been coming out of the summer heat to Utah to cool off on our beautiful trails. This has been an annual adventure since I started writing these articles back in 2004, with the exception of two years during the pandemic.
Eric Awerkamp and his family caught the ATV bug just after the turn of the century and joined several of the group rides sponsored by Polaris Industries. Through a friend, he found me and “adopted” me into his family. As a member of the family, it became my job to take the “family” on OHV trips. Actually, thanks to the Family Tree app we are family — I am his 10th cousin three times removed. I think that puts me just outside the Christmas gift circle. We became fast friends and have had many great adventures on Utah trails.
This year, with kids at BYU, he wanted to ride trails accessible from Provo. Dipping into my treasure chest of Utah trails, I came up with the Strawberry Trail System, which we could access from Spanish Fork Canyon.
My research uncovered a fact that I had not realized before — Spanish Fork Canyon is the gateway to thousands of Utah’s premier OHV trails. The Strawberry Trails can be accessed from the Tie Fork Rest Area and a trailhead at Soldier Summit.
The Strawberry Trails provide access to Daniel’s Summit, which is a great place to spend the night. From Daniel’s Summit, trails connect with the Soapstone Trails on Highway 150. If your machine is street legal, you can also access Murdock Basin, the Haystack Trails and the Taylor’s Fork Trail systems. While gas is available at Daniel’s Summit, carrying extra gas is important to be able to go much further north.
North of the Tie Fork Rest Area is access to the North Skyline Trail. The North Skyline connects to the main Skyline Trail, but you have to be street legal to make that connection. From the access point on Highway 6 to the frontage road that goes along Interstate 70, the Skyline Trail travels the ridges on the top of the Manti La-Sal Mountains for 108 miles. This trail is the backbone of the Arapeen Trail System and gas is plentiful once you leave Spanish Fork Canyon. The cities of Ephraim and Manti provide access to needed supplies on this stretch.
From the frontage road on I-70, there are accommodations in Salina and a connection to the Paiute ATV Trail System. This is the largest OHV trail system in the country with over 2,000 miles of trail to ride.
The Freemont Trail at the south end of the Paiute provides a connection to the Paunsaugunt Trails. This trail system provides amazing views of Bryce Canyon. On the south end is Crawford Pass.
From the pass, the trail goes by the Deer Springs Ranch, down through Nephi Pasture and onto the Johnson Canyon Road. At the Crocodile Staging Area, the trail works its way through the Hog Canyon Trail System. Coming out on the west side, the trail goes south into Kanab.
All of these trails can be accessed from Spanish Fork Canyon. I get excited thinking about planning a two- or three-day trip from the Tie Fork Rest Area down to Ephraim and Salina.
On this day, we decided to start from Tie Fork and ride the Strawberry Trails. From the rest area, we rode up over the railroad tracks and turned east following the pole line road.
We came to a “T” and took a right turn, which took us south along the Left Fork of the White River. At the next junction, we went left and followed the Right Fork of the White River. We rode Reservation Ridge, which took us to the top of one of the two Strawberry Peaks in this trail system.
The view from the top of the peak was an amazing panoramic view. We had an unobstructed vista in all directions.
Coming down off the peak, we continued riding the ridge. It follows a line between Ashley National Forest and the Uinta and Ouray Indian Reservation pretty closely. Riding Reservation Ridge reminded me of the views I have enjoyed on the Skyline Trail.
We soon dropped off the ridge and completed a loop, which took us back to the Tie Fork Rest Area, completing a ride of about 60 miles. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and consider Spanish Fork Canyon — gateway to Utah’s OHV trails.
Contact Lynn R. Blamires at firstname.lastname@example.org.