Article by Lynn Blamires feature writer for My Local Utah
The Arapeen OHV Trail System is the scene of more OHV jamborees than any other trail system in the state. I wrote about three of them (Standard-Examiner March 16, 2023). These two are every bit as spectacular as the first three.
Two National Forests
These mountains are often referred to as the Manti-La Sal Mountains. They are mountains that were covered by two National Forests – the Manti and the La Sal. Sanpete Valley citizens sent a petition to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 resulting in the creation of the Manti Forest Reserve. Citizens in Grand and San Juan counties made similar requests and the La Sal Forest Reserve was created in 1906-1907.
Forests Were Combined and Not Easily
The Manti and La Sal Forests were combined in 1949 for more efficient management. Such change did not come easy for the communities or forest managers.
A Mock Shotgun Wedding Was Held
In order to make the stressful situation easier, managers held a mock shotgun wedding in Joe’s Valley in 1950. The Ranger from Moab was the bride, the Ranger from Ephraim was the groom, and a Monticello resident held the shotgun.
The CCC Had Much to Do for the Arapeen Trail System
Between 1939 and 1941, these two forests hosted nearly 5,000 Civilian Conservation Corps members. These CCC enrollees built campgrounds, roads, trails, dams, feeder canals, and guard stations. We owe these men for the amazing Arapeen OHV Trail System and the other trails in Grand and San Juan Counties we enjoy today.
Skyline Circuit Overnight Ride, August 21-22
Sponsored by Sanpete County and Fairview City, this ride starts at the top of Fairview Canyon on Highway 31 at the Big Drift parking lot (mile marker 14). Riders are encouraged to have dinner in Fairview and then meet the other riders at the staging area for a lineup to start the ride at 6:00 p.m.
This will be a spectacular ride under the stars on Skyline Drive. From the top of Fairview Canyon to the junction with the trail that will take you down to Ephraim, you will be riding at elevations of at least 10,000 feet. Not only will the bright stars be a rare sight, but the lights from the cities below will be memorable. Organizers have planned for a clear cloudless sky with as much authority as they have to do so. In Ephraim, you will want to make reservations to spend the night and plan to have dinner on your own. There are some good choices in town.
Riders will line up in the parking lot of the Willow Creek Inn Tuesday morning for an 8:30 a.m. departure. The ride will go over the mountain and down to Joe’s Valley Reservoir and then to Pete’s Hole Reservoir for a lunch break. Lunch is on your own and then up to the Skyline and back to the starting point on Highway 31. The cost is $20 per machine – passengers ride free.
Arapeen Autumn UTV Ride, September 29
Sponsored by Sanpete County and the city of Ephraim, this ride starts at 300 E. Center Street in Ephraim. Lineup is at 9:30 a.m. for a 10:00 a.m. departure. The cost is $20 which includes trail refreshments and passengers are free.
You can choose from two rides, both of which will be through some beautiful fall colors. The Willow Creek Trail will stop at a scenic Manti Canyon Overlook with a restroom break at Yearns Reservoir. The last stop will be near Bluebell for refreshments and socializing. The ride has one steep “more difficult” descent and is 53 miles long.
Hell Hole has two steep “more difficult” sections. Scenic overlook stops will take place on Hell Hole Ridge and the Big Horseshoe. A restroom break will take place at Pete’s Hole Reservoir before a refreshment stop on the way back to Ephraim. This ride is 56 miles long.
You can sign up for these rides by clicking here. These two rides along with the three in last week’s article are listed on this page. There are also maps of each of the rides featured in the five events. This page is also the place to sign up.
Once you have ridden these trails, you will find yourself wanting to come back again and again. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and choose one or more of these events to get a taste of the Arapeen Trail System.