ATV Adventures: Trouble on a round-trip OHV ride to Eureka
Taking advantage of this year’s beautiful fall weather, I invited some friends on a ride to Eureka beginning in the Thorpe Hills. These hills are just south of the staging area at Five Mile Pass. I planned to ride around the east side of the Thorpe Hills to Eureka. Our little group consisted of five machines with people who trusted me to know where I was going.
I have a GPS that I left at home because I thought I knew these trails well. The Thorpe Hills are laced with trails with junctions that will take you in many directions. Note to self — always ride with my GPS.
I took a turn at a junction that angled up the side of the hills. That decision brought us full circle back to where we began. I started to offer an apology, but my friends cut it short. They thought it was a great trail and what did I have planned next? Who could ask for better friends? On my second attempt, we found our way around to the east side of the Thorpe Hills.
The passes south of Five Mile Pass are named, Seven Mile, Ten Mile and Twelve Mile. We turned west on the Ten Mile Pass Road, passing Powder Knoll. We then dropped down to Twelve Mile Pass Road and turned back east by Cedar Knoll. This took us by the Allen Ranch where we turned south again on the Homansville Road and over a pass by the same name.
The town of Homansville is located in the valley on the south side of the pass. It is a ghost town now with little to show for its existence. It was established to provide water for the local mines. The population peaked at 300, but the town was abandoned by 1900 when the railroad favored other options.
We rode into Eureka and had lunch at B’s Hangout while we talked about a route back to our starting point. Some in our group had heard of the Tintic Railroad Tunnel nearby and wanted to ride through it.
After lunch, we headed back to Homansville and into Homansville Canyon. It is a pretty canyon, but it is small and opens where the Elberta Slant Road heads east.
There is a turn-off on that road that I was looking for. When I found it, we turned left to get onto a railroad bed.
This is a fun trail to ride because it is a railbed and you can imagine riding a train on this track. We passed through several cuts made in the mountain to maintain the slight grades those old steam engines could handle. That grade could be no more than 2% with the loads they were pulling.
As we rode around a curve in the railbed, I could see the tunnel ahead. I never fail to enjoy riding through this tunnel. It is about 100 yards long with a slight curve so that you have to just about ride into it to see your way out. Some in our group did not know about it, which made it a treat for me to take them through it.
Coming out of the tunnel, I dropped down a steep trail to a junction with a north-south trail that would take us to Chimney Rock. We were using the drop system to keep our little group together.
The drop system requires the ride leader to drop a person at a junction to direct the others on the turn to make. In this case, the ride leader (me) didn’t drop anyone at that critical junction. Two followed me, but I lost two others, who stayed in the tunnel to take pictures.
Several miles down the trail, the magic of my rearview mirrors indicated that only two were following me. I turned back to talk with them. About that time, I got a call from the other two wondering where everybody was. It struck me that I hadn’t dropped a person at that intersection. I told them to stay put and went back to meet them.
All together again, we made it to Chimney Rock and onto a road by the same name. Passing by the Allen Ranch, we took the road to Fairfield and the highway back to our trucks. They all said they had a great time even though we got lost — go figure. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and ride with good friends.
Contact Lynn R. Blamires at firstname.lastname@example.org.