Utah ATV trail systems have trail numbers that correspond to map coordinates to enhance your riding experience (read — so you don’t get lost). Some trail systems have named trails within their systems in addition to numbers. Some trail names are given by people who ride them and some are marked with signs labeling the trail.
Our little group of six machines set out to follow the Patton ATV Trail on the Arapeen Trail System. Curious about the name, I checked with Kevin Christiansen of the Sanpete County Travel Council and Bill Broadbear with the National Forest Service, and as far back as anyone can remember it has been called the Patton ATV Trail.
I have started out on this trail before, but I have never followed the whole loop back to its beginning. I was always distracted by other trails at the junctions. Starting on the Patton Trail, I have ridden some great loops through some very pretty country, but this time I wanted to explore just this trail.
Starting up the canyon from Manti, we turned right at the first junction about 3 1/2 miles from the Temple View Motel where we were staying. There is an entrance gate with a map and a sign overhead marking the entrance to the Patton ATV Trail. This trail is marked No. 3.
We passed through the gate and began our adventure. Almost immediately after the gate, we found ourselves on an ATV bridge that crossed a stream in the canyon. The bridge is 66 inches wide so our 50-inch machines did well. With the bridge behind us, we began to climb, not a gradual climb, but a fun and challenging climb 1,500 feet to the first intersection.
Choosing to stay on the Patton Trail, we took trail No. 3, which took us south and around the Patton Reservoir. As evidence of the dry summer we have had, this reservoir was virtually empty. While this section of the trail increased our altitude by only 400 feet, that all changed as we entered the next segment.
Staying on No. 3, we had joined the Sheep Trail and once again we were climbing — this time over 2,100 feet. I was familiar with this trail but I didn’t know that it was a part of the Patton Trail.
Featuring some spectacular views, this trail climbs to 10,000 feet following a ridge line that allows you to gaze deep into Six Mile Canyon to the south and Manti Canyon on the north. Not only were we on a ridge traveling east, but we were crossing over ridges that were aligned crosswise to our west-to-east route. So we scrambled over one ridge, dropping into a saddle with those beautiful canyon views, only to climb another ridge and drop into another saddle, etcetera, etcetera, and etcetera — man, what a ride!
The last ridge we climbed brought us up through a challenging jumble of rocks along a fence line and out onto the top of the mountain on the Skyline Trail at 10,560 feet. The Skyline Trail is marked with No. 1, being the main trail and the backbone of the Arapeen Trail System.
Trail No. 3 ended here, but I knew that we would pick it up again near Jet Fox Reservoir. We enjoyed a zippy ride on the Skyline until we reached that point. Jet Fox is a source of water for Manti. We picked up trail No. 3 again on the north side of the reservoir and began our descent from the Skyline.
Passing Logger’s Fork Reservoir at the base of Elks Knoll, we made a loop around the knoll and headed down the canyons of Manti. I say canyons because we started up the main Manti Canyon that morning and now we were heading down through the Middle Fork Manti Canyon passing the mouth of the North Fork Manti Canyon. Before reaching the Manti Canyon Road, we passed the mouth of the South Fork Manti Canyon.
We “opened ‘er up” on this final segment and enjoyed the wind in our faces. Passing the Manti Community Campground next to Yearns Reservoir, we closed the Patton Trail loop.
Making our way back to the motel in Manti, we had finished a ride of about 35 miles, but in those miles we had climbed over 7,000 feet. The best time to ride this trail is August to mid-October.
When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and consider the trails on the Arapeen ATV Trail System — you won’t be disappointed.