Having revisited the Lake Mountain Trails just last month, I decided to compare my recent ride and the original ride I took 10 years ago. In 2010, it was an account of an encounter with a desert snake on trails located across Utah Lake from Provo.
To access these trails, we took Pioneer Crossing from I-15 then turned south on Redwood Road (Highway 68). The turn is easy to see on Google Earth.
After unloading, we followed the Soldier Pass Road to Long Canyon and climbed the same steep trail to the top of the ridge that overlooked Utah Lake. That ride was in the spring so the snow on Squaw Peak and Mount Timpanogos added to the spectacular beauty of the view. There was no snow on the peaks on this ride, but the wind was still blowing after all these years.
On the first ride, instead of going back down the same trail, we turned north, following a fun trail along the ridge. We enjoyed amazing views of the valley on this trail.
Reaching a series of communication towers, we turned down Lake Mountain Canyon. The wet spring gave the valley a green cloak with splashes of color from emerging wild flowers. The canyon trail led us out onto desert flats where we stopped near some cattle pens.
We talked about the trail as we watched a storm brewing in the north. The wind was strong even at this lower elevation. We had been stopped for a while when I noticed a movement in the grass at quite a distance behind us. The wind was blowing the grass around, but this movement was not consistent with the wind.
I watched as a snake glided into view. It was at least 3 feet long and it was headed on a course straight for our ATVs
Snakes are supposed to be able to sense the body heat of prey from over 3 feet away, but the heat signature from our engines must have been strong enough to attract a snake from such a distance.
Of our four machines, he was homing in on one particular Yamaha Grizzly. Knowing that there was a snake close by, the rider opted not to get off his machine. He tried to keep an eye on the snake, but that wasn’t easy from his vantage point on the seat.
The snake slithered along the ground under the Grizzly. We watched as it slinked up onto the skid plate under the motor.
The rider started his ATV and revved the motor in an attempt to scare the snake away. It didn’t move. He started to race the Grizzly around in circles and then decided against it. He stopped and jumped off, moving well away from the Yamaha.
We continued to watch as the snake worked its way to the front of the machine where he curled up to enjoy the warmth of the motor. It was not a rattlesnake but that didn’t matter, it was a snake.
The rider had visions of heading back to his truck with a snake coiled up somewhere near his feet. What if it crawled up his pant leg or poked its head up unexpectedly? He was thinking of walking back to the truck when another rider put on a glove and gently pulled the snake out from the frame and laid it on the ground. It slipped away to friendlier places as we contemplated what we had just seen.
Three of us thought it was pretty funny, but then none of us had a snake curled up just below us on an ATV as the fourth rider did. It was a surprise to me that the snake could sense a source of heat so far away.
When I got home from this second ride, I looked up the original track from 2010. It was interesting to note that the old track overlaid my latest track perfectly as far as the ride up Long Canyon and on the Soldier Pass Road was concerned. Understanding the layout of the trails on the system better now, I think it would be fun to go back for another adventure.
The first ride was 32 miles and the second was 22. I would give it an easy to intermediate rating. The best time to go is in the spring or fall. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber-side down and watch out for Sammy, the sociable snake.