Finding new trails is one of the things I like most about riding in the backcountry. Finding them on my own is risky fun, but following someone who knows where they are going is best.
My good fortune was finding Brad Bradley, a retired DWR fish guy who patrolled the trails on Manti Mountain for 30 years. He could ride them in his sleep, but we preferred to ride with him having both eyes open. He loves to fish, but today we were going to ride new trails. Well, new to me.
Riding on the Arapeen ATV Trails means that you don’t have to trailer to the trailheads. Access is right from Ephraim, Manti, Springdale, Mt. Pleasant, and Salina to the south or Emery to the east.
Starting from Manti, there are good connector trails between Manti Canyon to Six-Mile Canyon to the south and Ephraim Canyon to the north. Being a foodie, I prefer to stay in Ephraim because of the restaurant choices.
Brad took us up Manti Canyon past Yearns Reservoir to a fork in the road. We went left on the South Fork of Manti Canyon. Passing the entrance to the North Fork of Manti Canyon, we took Trail No. 37 which is the connector trail to Ephraim Canyon.
Traveling a little way toward Ephraim, we turned down onto New Canyon Road and headed back up the mountain. New Canyon is Trail No. 42 on the Arapeen Trail Map.
About halfway up New Canyon, we turned off on No. 43. I should say up, because this trail didn’t go up and down, just up — so up that the map reads, “Caution, Steep Road.” It is in fine print, so I didn’t notice it at first, but nobody had to tell me about it halfway up.
Passing by Dusterburgs Hill, we came out onto Freds Flat. Fred Newton was with me and he didn’t even know about his flat. I thought, “Hill my foot. If that was a hill, I will eat my hat.” That is farmer talk and is best spoken with a drawl.
On the flat, we met a couple in matched Polaris Ace 570s. The lady asked if the trail got any worse. I was the wrong person to ask, but I gave her an answer I thought she would like to hear anyway and we watched them move out.
From Freds Flat, we started to climb again. I thought the other trail was steep, but it was nothing compared to this one. About halfway up, we saw the lady in the Ace pulled off to the side. “I am just fine right here,” I heard her say as we passed. We saw her husband a little way up the trail walking down to help her.
While it was steep, it is nothing I would avoid. In four-wheel drive, in low range and with a steady throttle it is a fun trail to ride. On the last section of the climb, the angle was so steep that I felt like I was on a roller coaster making the first climb. Upon reaching the top, I felt exhilarated. We stopped for lunch and enjoyed views from on top of the world.
Because of the extreme elevation changes, you are either in the fall colors or not. On the Skyline, all the aspens had lost their leaves. However, as we rode through New Canyon the yellow aspen leaves looked like gold coins falling from some treasure chest high above. On this beautiful day, we were riding on a carpet of gold through the woods
Riding north on the Skyline, we passed Little Horseshoe and Big Horseshoe — these are landmark mountains to the west. Little Horseshoe Flat was to the east of us. The Skyline takes a sharp 180, but we took the trail straight along a ridge called Clay Bench. Views into the canyon to the north presented themselves as we rode along the ridge.
We dropped down off the Clay Bench to follow Little Creek. We made our way past Blue Lake and Grassy Lake and then turned west. Picking up the Orangeville Road, we climbed back to the Skyline Trail. Traveling south, we turned down Manti Canyon to our motel finishing a ride of about 72 miles. Our vertical climb on these trails was over 12,400 feet. Whew!
When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and go in the fall to enjoy the colors.