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High Adventure on the Skyline trail from Ephraim to Salina

September 4, 2018

The Skyline Trail is literally high adventure — the trail goes for miles without dropping below 10,000 feet. I have been on several sections of this trail, but I haven’t followed it all the way to Salina.

My interest in knowing the route to Salina is spawned by a plan to ride from Kanab on the southern border of Utah to Bear Lake on the north end. While I have ridden many sections of this border-to-border route, there are still some parts that I need to have set clearly in my mind. So, 14 riders on 10 machines headed up Ephraim Canyon on a bright August morning looking for the route to Salina.

The ride to the junction with the Skyline Trail was smooth and fast. Waiting at the junction for the rest to join us, we took time to read a historical marker about a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project.

Most of the CCC projects I have seen have to do with terraces cut into mountain sides to prevent spring flooding. This project involved digging ditches to bring the water from melting snows down to farm lands. The mountain ditches are easy to spot and are still functional.

We turned onto the Skyline Trail and headed south. Much of this trail is right up on the ridgeline with amazing views into valleys on both sides of the trail.

From our vantage point, we looked down on Logger’s Fork Reservoir to the west then passing Snow Lake on the left. I noticed that the patch of snow on the west ridge above the lake, evident a month earlier was gone.

Swinging around Jet Fox Reservoir to the east, we came upon the junction with Manti Canyon. The wildflowers I had seen on earlier trips to this trail system were gone, but that did not dim the spectacular views we were enjoying.

Arriving at the highest point on the Skyline, we stopped for a group picture. The elevation is 10,897 feet and the view opposite the sign is a picturesque view of Duck Fork Reservoir.

Continuing our ride, we passed by Ferron Reservoir and dropped down to the campground at 12-Mile Flat and took a break. The Skyline then took us by Emerald Lake, Island Lake and Blue Lake. It is fun to see so many snow fed lakes in the tops of the mountains.

Arcing around to the west, we passed the entrance to Trail No. 29. It is a beautiful trail with some great fishing spots, but a treacherous section just below this gate has caused real trouble for riders in the past.

Our altitude began to drop from that point as we continued south. This, however, was a very pretty part of the ride. While the trail was wide enough for our UTVs, it was a squeeze for two trucks to pass each other.

Twisting through large stands of aspen and pine trees, this trail was not only pretty, it was fun to negotiate. We left the Manti-La Sal forest and entered Fish Lake National Forest leaving the Arapeen trails for the Gooseberry trail system.

Having dropped over 4,000 feet in elevation, we passed the mouth of Skutumpah Canyon where a creek by the same name joins Salina Creek. We reached Interstate 70 coming out of Salina Canyon on Convulsion Road. I love the names of landmarks I find in the backcountry.

The road we followed west along the highway was once a railroad route. That was made obvious when we passed through two tunnels that had been chiseled out of the mountain. This was a beautiful section of the trail.

Still being early in the afternoon, we decided to extend our ride. Turning onto the main Paiute ATV Trail (No. 1), we headed up Soldier Canyon. At a junction, we took trail No. 47 to Lost Creek.

Having crossed Lost Creek on this trail many times, I was looking forward to clear water and a fun crossing. Not this time. Recent rains had turned the banks muddy. The driver took the crossing too fast and I got drenched in muddy water. I was done and ready for the showers.

We soon found our way north into Salina on the Lost Creek Trail, finishing a ride of about 100 miles. When you go take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and enjoy a high adventure on the Skyline Trail.

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