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ATV Adventures: An OHV adventure on the Arapeen Trails from Emery to Salina

By Lynn Blamires - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Aug 31, 2023
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Jesse Knight at Twelve Mile Flat Campground — our lunch break on the way to Salina.
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Riding the beautiful Arapeen Trails on the way to Salina.
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Entering one of the two train tunnels on the old Spirit Railway bed that is now the frontage road to Salina.
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Coming out of the woods on the ride to Salina.
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Lynn Blamires

Weather is a factor whenever you venture out into the backcountry. Sources for weather information vary and making decisions on apps for weather can be pretty tricky.

I use Weather Bug and the Weather App on my phone. When the Bug says 30% chance of rain on a given date, I look at the hourly forecast to see if it will hit during my ride. Then I compare the Bug to the other app and, being an optimist, I choose the one that shows me what I want to see. Perhaps my plan is flawed. Pour decisions have resulted from it (pun intended).

Sept. 17 was our travel day and we spent most of that day driving in the rain on the way down to Ferron. That was enough to scare off seven riders on four machines from our group. We stayed at the Big Mountain Lodge in Ferron and had a great meal at the Lodge Grill.

The day dawned clear without a cloud in the sky as we headed for Emery. There is an old church there in front of a wide street where we unloaded in preparation for our ride.

I secretly smirked at those who chickened out; the weather was perfect. The Bug showed only a 20% chance of rain at about 2 p.m. — ha! I laughed. 20% is nothing to worry about as we set a course toward Link Canyon west of town.

The trail turns northeast as it lines up for the climb up the canyon. We traveled up 2,200 feet on this beautiful red rock canyon trail on switchbacks that offer amazing views below.

We came out on top by Wildcat Knoll. At this point, we had entered the Arapeen Trail System. We were in the high country and the weather was perfect as we followed the Arapeen Trail No. 9 toward the Skyline Trail.

We came upon a trail that was marked No. 92. The map showed that it made a loop south and rejoined the No. 9 further west. We were up for adventure so we took it.

The trail followed the crest of Big Ridge for about 7 miles before taking us back to the No. 9. Being a ridge, it put us above 9,000 feet, presenting some beautiful views of the valley.

We traveled north to Twelve Mile Flat Campground where we took a break for lunch at a picnic table that was big enough to seat all of us. This is the social part of the ride that I enjoy as much as the ride itself.

Back on the trail, we traveled south. This is a pretty section of the Skyline Trail. We could see down into the clear green waters of Emerald Lake on our left, the island in Island Lake on our right and the beautiful Blue Lake on our left. As the trail looped back to the north, we could see across the valley a mile and a half to the trail we would be taking back south down to the frontage road on Interstate 70.

It was on our way down the mountain on that trail at a point above Gunnison Valley that the 20% chance of rain increased a little — like to 100%! We had already donned rain gear so we were somewhat protected, but I was riding with Bob Brady in a Can-Am Commander that only had a half windshield.

It is interesting that this windshield is designed to deflect the wind, but not the rain. I have a good pair of goggles, but my face got pelted. The grimace I was displaying on my face could have been mistaken for a smile, but it wasn’t.

We came by a vault toilet on the way to the frontage road, but we didn’t bother stopping. I figured we could just wait until we got to town.

We made the frontage road and turned toward Salina. This road is actually the old railway bed for the Spirit Railway. It has two train tunnels that we passed through on our way to Salina. I thought we might stop in one until the storm blew over — we didn’t.

We made it to town, checked into our motels and met at the Mexican restaurant for dinner in Salina. We had a great meal and we all agreed that it was the best ride ever. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and enjoy the Arapeen Trail System when the sun shines.

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


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