I love riding trails that are new to me. Discovering Utah’s beautiful back country on an ATV is a favorite pastime. However, riding an old favorite can be just as delightful.
I rode some trails on the Paiute Trail System last week that I had ridden before with my friend Keaton Gerrard of Centerville. Keaton likes to relive old memories, and as we planned our route I wondered what differences I might find in riding this course again. I can truthfully say I was in for some big surprises.
The first one came on the trail out of Richfield. Leaving town headed east, we picked up trail No. 42 and began to climb out of the valley. The Willow-Patch fire had burned through this area earlier this year between Richfield and Koosharem.
I was expecting to see the devastating results of this blaze. While I did see burned trees standing with skeleton-like fingers pointing to the sky, the roots of these trees were still alive. Sprouting from the base of each of these silent sentinels was new growth.
Instead of wasted woodland, I was seeing the hope of new growth spreading over the landscape. It does a body good to see nature rejuvenate itself.
Coming out on Bear Valley Road, we traveled past Mormon Mountain on our way into beautiful Burrville. The last time the population of this little hamlet was counted was in 1950 when the tally was 35. Even on an ATV, you could blink and miss it.
Continuing south, we rode into the town of Koosharem. This town isn’t very big either, but it is famous for the food found at the Koosharem Café. This is the place I first learned how to pronounce Koosharem. I was told that if I sneezed when I said it, I would be correct.
Coming through too early for a meal, we stopped instead at the Grass Valley Mercantile. Usually only a stop for gas, this time we went in and took a good look around. Crossing the threshold was like stepping back in time 100 years.
Immediately to our right was an area for sitting, featuring comfortable chairs for locals to chew the fat. The only thing missing was a potbelly stove. The floor was a darkly stained wood and the walls were lined with high wooden shelves — the kind you would see in a corner grocery in the early 1900s.
Behind the counter, on the top of the highest shelf, was a collection of antique bottles, and one of the walls was lined with antlered animal heads. The more we looked, the more treasures we found. The Grass Valley Mercantile is worth a visit.
Climbing through the early fall colors west of town, we came to Upper Box Creek Reservoir. I took a minute to ride over for a look. It was empty except for a small pond on the north end. That was in stark contrast to the amount of water I have seen in it before — evidence of our extremely dry summer.
Heading west, we passed through a 50-inch gate onto trail No. 87. This delightful trail entered a section of forest that had been burned by a fire several years ago. The rejuvenation process was much more advanced, but we could still see dead wood standing.
Passing out of this section, we could see why this is designated a 50-inch trail. The trees were close on both sides as we entered a section of the deep dark forest. We wound through the woods and squeezed through the trees as we enjoyed the splendor of this scenic timberland. With so much dead fall, it was easy to see why our wildfires have been so intense.
Turning onto trail No. 89, we continued our twisty travels until we came out on the main Paiute Trail into Dry Creek Canyon. Following that track, we dropped into Marysvale Valley.
Zipping across the valley, we traveled over the Sevier River and took trail No. 77 into town. After 77 miles, we were ready for food and fuel, and Marysvale is a good place for both.
When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and sneeze when you say Koosharem — it will make the locals smile.