I have ridden at night in the past, but it hasn’t always been on purpose. I remember one ride early in my riding experiences. We were staying in Junction, Utah on the Paiute Trail System.
Being the afternoon, I suggested a ride before dinner to Marysvale and back. I didn’t know how far that was because I had never been on that loop. When asked, I said, “Oh about 30 miles.” Those words haunt me to this day.
We headed out on a beautiful ride over the mountain and down into Marysvale. By the time we rode into town, it was dusk and we still had to get back to Junction.
I found a trail through the valley that would take us back to our motel. We flipped our lights on and burrowed through the night.
I was in the lead, but I could feel the fire in the eyes of the other riders on the back of my neck. “You call that ride 30 miles? Don’t you know that it is the middle of the night and we are hungry?”
Well, that was back in the day when we used dim and primitive reflective lighting. Fast forward to the present day where riders have rigged their machines with powerful LED light bars that do a pretty good job of dispelling darkness.
I have one of these instruments of illumination mounted on my Kawasaki Teryx4. Now I look for opportunities to drive in the dark.
One such opportunity presented itself earlier this month when the club scheduled a night ride on a section of the Skyline Trail above Farmington. When I heard the word “night” I was in.
We met at Farmington Pond Park and began our ride at 7 p.m. We chose an evening during the week to make the ride because we figured that traffic in Farmington Canyon would be light. I was surprised to learn that the trail up Farmington Canyon is actually a leg of the Skyline Trail.
As we began our climb, the shadows of the evening fell across the sky. I have always wanted to say that.
The trail followed Farmington Creek as we worked our way up the switchbacks on our trek to the peak. My finger itched to hit the trigger that would power-up my light bar, but it was not time – not yet.
We passed the old Sunset Campground. I was disappointed to learn that it has been closed. I really enjoyed the nights we camped there.
About halfway up, ironically, we crossed Halfway Creek – one of the creeks that drain into Farmington Creek. As we continued to zigzag up the side of the mountain, we crossed more creeks – Morris, Corduroy, Whipple, and Miller creeks.
We crossed two more creeks before we reached the first junction – Hell Hole Creek and Rice Creek. I would be interested to know how those creeks got their names.
From here the Skyline Drive takes off to the Bountiful Peak Campground and the Francis Peak Road goes up to the radar towers. We took the latter and continued our climb.
As we reached the 8,800 foot level, we could see the big snow field that had just been recently cut through to allow traffic. It still blocked a section of trail that crossed on the east side of the mountain to meet up with the main road further up.
Snow fields also blocked travel further north. The trail from here goes over to the Smith Creek Lakes – one of my favorite places to ride so close to home.
From this point the views into Morgan Valley to the east and down into Farmington Bay on the west were amazing. After a brief respite, we headed back down.
Coming to a junction where there used to be a maintenance shed, we turned east and rode through Farmington Flats to the Bountiful Peak Picnic Area. By the time we finished eating, it was dark.
As we moved out, it was time. “Shazam,” I powered up the light bar and boy did I dispel the darkness!
As we moved through the night, the breeze carried the light scent of sage, wild flowers, pine and what! Skunk? What a mood smasher!
We topped off our ride with a wonderful view of the bright city lights far below. When you go take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and discover what the Skyline Trail has to offer day or night.