When I drive Utah’s highways, I am always looking for dirt roads and trails. One of the aspects I enjoy about my riding experience is discovering where trails take me. I ventured out on the Bridger Jack Mesa Trail because of what I had heard about it.
To reach our drop point, we turned off of Highway 191 onto the Indian Creek Scenic Byway — Highway 211 just north of Monticello. This 40-mile stretch of road passes Newspaper Rock National Historic Monument before reaching the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.
We took time to stop at Newspaper Rock before beginning our ride. I enjoy the variations in the different Indian rock art I have found around the state. This one is quite extensive and I always wonder about the meaning of the symbols.
Moving on, we staged in an area just northwest of Dugout Reservoir. As we lined up to begin our ride, we could see the two Six-Shooter Peaks to the right of the mesa.
Our route took us west as we headed toward Bridger Jack Mesa following Indian Creek. As we rounded the base of the mesa we picked up Lavender Creek and worked our way south.
This trail makes a loop around the entire Bridger Jack Mesa. The west side of this loop follows near part of the eastern border of Canyonlands National Park.
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The most impressive parts of this mesa are composed of towering needles that jut into the sky — sheer walls that rise above the sloping base. The loftiest of these needles is Bridger Jack on the southern-most tip of this remarkable monument.
Serving as a backdrop towering as much as 2,000 feet above us, the views that caught our attention were of Canyonlands to the west. The trail squeezes between the mesa and the park boundaries offering amazing panoramas of the park interior.
The drama came about two-thirds of the way along our trek at the base of the mesa. The column of riders had stopped and as usual, those riding in the back had no idea why.
I was riding an ATV, but many of those I was with were driving wider UTVs. As it turned out, one of these wider machines ran into trouble negotiating a tight turn in the trail.
Recent rains had washed out the trail at this turn, creating a hazard that a lead driver’s rear wheel dropped into. We took time to shore up the hole with rocks making that section of trail safer to travel.
We had stopped several times to enjoy the vistas this trail has to offer. Our next stop was in a shady area close to the park boundaries for lunch. Fred Newton and I opted out of this social event in lieu of getting on the road for home.
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Leaving the group, we quickly found ourselves on the Beef Basin Road that took us back on the other side of the mesa. Not hindered by stops at vistas or slow riders, we opened up our throttles and felt the wind in our hair.
Following a track on my GPS, I have learned that sometimes there can be a discrepancy between the track and reality that can be confusing. This was the case this time.
The distance between my real track and the track I was following was enough that made me question a junction we had just passed. Turning around, we took the other track.
It turned out to be taking us in the wrong direction, but this mistake led to the discovery of a beautiful camping area. As we crossed Cottonwood Creek, I made a mental note of this spot should I need a place to camp. We turned around, went back through the creek and got back on track for the truck finishing a ride of just over 34 miles.
Early spring and late in the fall are the best times to ride this trail. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and set your sites on Six-Shooter Peaks. They will help you find the Bridger Jack Mesa Trail.
Columnist Lynn Blamires can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.