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ATV Adventures: The longest day on an ATV

By Lynn Blamires - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Nov 25, 2023
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Crossing the ATV bridge over Rocky Ford Creek.
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Making a water crossing on the Lost Creek Trail. The Taz is visible on the T-shirt.
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Lynn Blamires

The year was 2006. My friend Eric Awerkamp from Arizona hatched the idea. He wanted to do one, long day ride. It was my job to pick the trail.

The Paiute ATV Trail System immediately came to mind. The main trail in this system is marked with an Anasazi symbol known as “The Taz” because it reminds people of a Tasmanian devil. It is used to mark the main Paiute trail No. 1, which makes a 275-mile loop between Salina and Circleville. The Taz shows up in red and dots along the trail on the map.

I had ridden this loop with a group of friends three years earlier, but we took three days to do it. I wrote an article about that trip which was published in Dirt Wheels magazine in December 2003.

It was not hard to sell this idea to Eric. It was exactly what he had in mind. With some shortcuts, I laid out a 250-mile route. We thought it appropriate to choose July 6 to have more daylight for this wild ride.

We had T-shirts to commemorate this monumental ride. The blue T-shirt featured a large red Taz on the front and a description of the ride on the back.

I want to point out that this ride was made on ATVs. Side-by-side UTVs had not yet come into vogue. I was riding a solid rear-axle Kawasaki Prairie 650, which was not known to have a comfy ride. The ride was hard, but this machine could sure hold a corner.

We picked Marysvale to start our loop. We all arrived the day before in preparation for an early start.

Eight riders dressed in Taz shirts lined up outside of our rooms at the Paiute Trails Inn. We left town southbound headed for adventure.

We made good time on a dirt road that went by the west side of Piute Reservoir. Before we reached Junction, we took a loop west up on a mountain trail that took us over Junction and down into Circleville. We took two hours to ride 35 miles.

The trail out of Circleville took us to Kingston Canyon where we crossed Rocky Ford Creek on an ATV bridge. We wound through a narrow wash in the heat of the desert before climbing into the cool air of Forshea Mountain. Following the Taz trail, we rode by Manning Meadow Reservoir and down into Koosharem to a café by the same name for lunch.

We left town a little past noon with 150 miles to go. We made good time on a fast track through Burrville and up Bear Valley. We took the Lost Creek Trail into Salina where we splashed through some great water crossings.

Leaving the valley, we crossed Frogs Flat and up Willow Creek Canyon to a ridge in the Pavant Mountains. At 9,000 feet, the views were amazing. We dropped down into Richfield for gas.

We had 200 miles under our belt, but the sun was setting, a storm was brewing, and we had a rider with a flat tire. We took time to plug the tire. We were back on the trail in time to miss the storm.

The trail took us back into the mountains. We turned south at Burnt Hollow. This track took us over several ridges and hollows. We finally turned down Skinner Hollow on a narrow winding track into the valley by Fremont Indian State Park.

We abandoned the main trail to save time. Crossing under Interstate 70, we rode up to the Lower Kimberly. The night was pitch black now and I could just see the lights of the riders behind me in my rearview mirrors. My thumb was numb from managing the throttle lever.

We called ahead to the restaurant at Big Rock Candy Mountain and made it in time for dinner. That dinner tasted so good. Spirits were high after what we had accomplished. We only had a few miles remaining in this wild ride.

We made it back to Marysvale and rolled up to our rooms at midnight. The number on my odometer read 270 miles. I nearly fell off my ATV and staggered into my room. I fell into my bed in a fetal position and I couldn’t feel my thumb for a month, but I had a smile on my face. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and don’t try to do this ride in one day. Take time to see the scenery.

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


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