Exploring the Mantua ATV trails of Northern Utah

Thursday , November 16, 2017 - 5:00 AM1 comment

LYNN R. BLAMIRES, special to the Standard-Examiner

During my ATV adventures I often pass trails I would like to take, but they don’t fit the plans of the day. Making mental notes, I look for opportunities for discovery another day.

In early November, I went back to the Inspiration Point trails south of Mantua. I actually remembered one of those mental notes and talked Dean Eborn of Layton and Fred Newton of Holliday into going with me.

Staging at the large parking area south of Mantua, we took the Willard Peak Road looking for adventure. I knew of a relatively new trail with a 50-inch width restriction that had been cut into the side of the mountain starting at Dock Flats.

Thinking we were there, we began to circle through the camping area looking for the trail. We found one, but it didn’t go up — it wound down into the north end of Devil’s Hole Canyon before going through Box Elder Creek.

After crossing the creek, we began to climb, but soon came to a gate blocking access to private property. Turning around, we made our way back, thinking that it was fun while it lasted. It was then that I realized that we were still below the flats.

Arriving at Dock Flats, we found the gate we were looking for and began our climb up the side of the canyon. The aspen, having shed their leaves, made a thick blanket on the trail on the lower end. As we climbed, the trail was soon covered with snow and the water puddles were frozen over.

Coming out at the top end, the trail seemed shorter than I remembered it to be. Back on the main trail, we climbed higher. The higher elevation was evident by the packed snow on the road. We came to a trail with a 50-inch gate. It was the rest of the trail we wanted to ride.

This trail is a narrow ledge with a steep drop-off to the west. The mountain rose high above us on our right. Near the top, we stopped to move a log that was blocking the trail. It is a tight trail that wends through the woods with sharp switchbacks.

Breaking ice and riding in snow, we realized that no one had ridden this trail since this last snow. It took us back down to the top of the shorter section of the 50-inch trail we had already ridden. These two trails were really fun to ride.

Back on the Willard Peak Road, the snow got deeper the higher we climbed. We were riding packed snow so while the snow was getting deeper, our progress was still good.

Topping out at the peak of Willard Basin, we stopped to take in the view. To the east we could see Pineview Reservoir in the distance and to the west stretched Willard Bay. The sky was a beautiful deep blue against the white snow.

The trail to Inspiration Point lay ahead of us off to our left. The trail was a track through deep snow that descended into a basin that once hosted a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp – the program that terraced the mountains to prevent mudslides.

We didn’t make it to the Point – blowing snow halted our progress. Not wanting to get stuck for the night, we turned back.

During our descent we came to the last trail we wanted to ride. It was just up the road a little from the top of the 50-inch trail that we had taken earlier. Turning down toward the Girl Scout camp to the east, we began the process of discovery.

Our excitement was short lived. The trails all came to dead-ends. Earlier in the day the track was frozen, but now they were muddy. We retraced our route, but not before we were caked with mud. Not regular mud, but cement mud. It was no small task to clean our machines.

With the exception of the narrow sections of track we rode, this trail is suitable for UTVs and jeeps. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and take this trail in the warmer months.

You can email Lynn Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.

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