Nine years ago, I rode the Hog Canyon trails on an ATV and had determined never to go back — especially after surviving some harrowing sections of the trail that still bring back memories. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, “There is no use crying — it will just fog up your goggles.”
So why was I facing the challenges of this trail again? I guess you could call it social pressure. My friend Willis Little of Fruit Heights was born and raised in Kanab and is well acquainted with this trail. He assured me that a Trail Cat had been used to tone down the rough spots.
Wary as I was, I fell in line and off we went, but this time I was driving a Polaris RZR4. I figured the long wheel base would be an advantage over the short base of the ATV I was riding in 2009.
Willis led us out of town on a track that took us on the west side of Highway 89. This narrow path was fringed by tall willows. It was a fun trail that took us over Kanab Creek on an ATV bridge that was just wide enough to negotiate with our UTVs.
Crossing the road, we rode up the North Fork of Hog Canyon to a turn that took us south up to a plateau that overlooked the city of Kanab. It would make a fun night ride to this overlook to see the city lit up after sunset.
Backtracking to the junction, I saw a trail rating marker that brought back memories of my first ride on this trail. The standard ratings are a green circle for easy, blue squares for moderate difficulty and black diamonds for most difficult. This marker had two red diamonds accented with white lightning strikes. This is the only trail I have ridden with that warning.
Willis didn’t even slow down. I wanted to yell, “Didn’t you see that marker!” As it turned out, the longer wheel base on my machine made a huge difference. The steep climbs seemed tamer than they did on my ATV.
We turned onto a spur that took us north on a track to a rock formation that Willis called “The Bears Ears.” Not to be confused with the National Monument, this feature is a series of three sandstone pillars that stand some 40 feet high and look a lot like animal ears. It was a fun place to visit.
Coming back to the main trail, we rode east on a ridge above the South Fork of Hog Canyon. Turning north, we came to a gate near Toms Spring marked “Mosdell Trail.” Willis introduced me to Dennis Mosdell. He had two sons who were the only ones crazy enough to ride this section of the trail on their ATVs before it was tamed down. The trail still carries their name.
Continuing our ride, we traveled west along a plateau past John R Flat, turning down into a canyon where we found what Willis called the “Crocodile.” It is a cave with an underground lake. The opening is small compared to the massive wall of sandstone above it but large enough to enter standing up. A flashlight is important to ascertain the interior of the cave. It is a pleasant place to be on a hot day and fascinating to visit.
Leaving the cave, we retraced our track to the mouth of the canyon and turned north. We had time to visit the pet cemetery known as Angel’s Rest. This is the final resting place for some of man’s best friends. It is easy to see how this place could provide comfort for someone who has lost a special pet.
The grounds are quiet except for when the wind blows. A wide variety of numerous wind chimes provide musical sounds that float over the cemetery grounds. We enjoyed a moment of quiet respect and then pointed our machines toward Kanab finishing a ride of about 39 miles.
The best time to ride Hog Canyon is in the spring or fall. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and drive a machine with a long wheel base — it will make it possible to enjoy the scenery.