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ATV Adventures: The Arapeen OHV Jamboree — a fun ride and fishing as a bonus

By Lynn Blamires - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Sep 14, 2023
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Riding the Arapeen Trails at the Arapeen Jamboree.
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Beautiful scenery in the Manti-La Sals was our treat at the jamboree.
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The Muddy Creek was our only large, clear creek crossing of the day.
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Lynn Blamires

My experience on the Arapeen Jamboree was amazing. It is the first time I have been since 2005, so a lot of things have changed in those 18 years. Originally, this jamboree had rides both in the San Rafael Swell and on the Arapeen Trails. They have now separated these into two events -- the Swell Jamboree in the spring and the Arapeen Jamboree is in the fall.

This year, the Arapeen Jamboree was Utah's best kept secret. I have been to many jamborees and they have all been well attended, but when we lined up for our first ride, we only had seven machines. The following two days, there were only six. It was fun and easy to get to know everyone. Utah hosts at least 22 jamborees each year, and considering the trails featured at this one, I was surprised to learn that it did not have more publicity.

The sponsor for this year's jamboree was the Big Mountain Lodge in Ferron. Brad and Julie Benson who own the lodge did a great job as hosts. The fee for the jamboree included three deluxe lunches that were packed for the trail and three first-class hot meals that were served in the evening after our rides. Instead of a T-shirt normally provided at a jamboree, they issued a high-quality pullover hoody.

The jamboree opened with a ride they called "The Black Fork." It is not a name of a trail but the name of a landmark at the midpoint of the ride. By the end of this 82-mile jaunt, I felt like I had been all over the mountain.

We started out right from the lodge and headed up Ferron Canyon. The Big Mountain Lodge is in a great location that allows access to both the Arapeen Trail System and the trails in the San Rafael Swell without having to trailer to the trailheads.

Our ride took us by Millsite Reservoir and up to a spur trail that took us out onto the Ferron Valley Overlook. It provided a beautiful view of the reservoir and into the valley where Ferron is located.

Back on the trail, we headed southwest to Wrigley Reservoir. This was our first fishing stop. Because of the size of our little group, they decided to turn this jamboree into a fishing contest. Wrigley is one of over 50 lakes on the Arapeen Trail System that are stocked with a variety of fish, making it a fisherman's paradise. Some of these fishing spots are best accessed by OHVs.

After catching a few fish, we moved on to the next fishing spot, which was Spinner's Reservoir. We had some pretty serious fishermen in the group, which made it fun to see 12-year-old Ryan Garbanati giving them a run for their money.

After spending time on the Arapeen Trails, I have learned that the single-digit trail numbers like No. 1, No. 7 and No. 9 are main trails and are mainly smooth and well graded. The double-digit trail numbers like No. 91 dive into the woods on trails that are not well maintained. These trails took us through beautiful scenery, but they were more rutted and full of mud traps. That doesn't mean that we didn't enjoy them; in fact, I haven't ridden a trail on the Arapeen System that I haven't enjoyed. The No. 91 included a very fun crossing of Muddy Creek, which was not muddy at all. In fact, it was one of the few water crossings we came through that wasn't muddy.

After stopping at Twelve Mile Flat Campground for a break, we hopped on the Skyline. We climbed up above the 10,000-foot line and dropped down to Ferron Reservoir for our last fishing stop. This was the largest body of water of the three spots we fished that day.

On our way back to Ferron, we passed a sign marking a trail to Lizard Lake. We couldn't see it from the main trail, but other lakes on these trails are named for a characteristic, like Emerald Lake is green and Island Lake has an island in the middle. How did Lizard Lake get its name? Enquiring minds want to know.

After arriving back at the lodge, we sat down to a beef enchilada dinner and listened to Ryan brag about his win over the old fishermen. I don't think it could have ended better. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and enjoy fishing on the Arapeen System.

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

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