The Great Western Trail is a route currently under construction running from Canada to Mexico. In Utah, most of the Great Western Trail follows existing roads and trails and is open to dirt biking. The trail enters the state from the north near Beaver Mountain on the Wasatch-Cache National Forest and continues south through the Uinta, Manti-LaSal, Fishlake, and Dixie National Forests. It crosses BLM land before exiting into Arizona.
The Great Western Trail crosses through six of Utahs 10 designated travel regions offering great diversity. The following describes the trails in each of the six travel regions.
Traveling south along the Great Western Trail you will enter Utah and the Wasatch-Cache National Forest near the head of Logan Canyon and travel along the east side of Logan River dropping into the Blacksmith Fork drainage. Interesting side trips might include visits to historic Tony Grove Ranger Station or visits to the ever popular Ricks Springs. You may want to visit the grave site of renegade bear, Old Ephraim. Fishermen using the trail may want to try their luck in the Blacksmith Fork drainage as they head toward Hyrum where the trail turns south toward the small towns of Paradise and Avon.
GOLDEN SPIKE EMPIRE
The trail follows road #162 into Weber County, crosses the North Fork of Ogden River and then turns west towards Ben Lomond Peak. Trail users will enjoy beautiful vistas of the Great Salt Lake and Salt Lake Valley as they follow the Skyline Trail to Ogden Canyon. The route then passes Snow Basin ski area on past Mt. Ogden heading down Beus Canyon to Ogden.
Heading south along Highway 89, the trail turns east near Hill Air Force Base and climbs to the top of the Wasatch Range past Francis Peak. It follows the crest of the range past the historic Davis County Watershed and into City Creek.
GREAT SALT LAKE COUNTRY
Going south, the trail crosses the historic Mormon Pioneer and Pony Express Trails and then passes under the freeway (1-80) at the Lambs Canyon interchange. The trail then heads up Lambs Canyon into Mill Canyon and onto the crest of the Wasatch Range again. Trail users should note that restrictions regarding animals (pets) along this section are in effect because of the watershed requirements of Salt Lake City.
The Uinta National Forest section of the Great Western Trail is 65 miles long. Beginning at Sunset Peak east of Lone Peak Wilderness, adjacent to Wasatch Mountain State Park, the trail parallels an area rich in mining history. The trail continues south, joining the Ridge Trail adjacent to Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness. Access to this wilderness will provide the traveler with an opportunity to view waterfalls, glacial cirques, rugged terrain, and wildflowers.
The trail continues south through the South Fork of Provo Canyon and east down Strawberry Ridge, displaying some of the most rugged country on the forest. Strawberry Reservoir, part of the massive Central Utah Project, can be viewed in its entirety from this section of the trail. Watch for wildlife such as mountain goats, elk, moose, bears, deer, and many small animals and birds along the route. The trail follows the Tie Fork Drainage to Spanish Fork Canyon, and then continues onto the Manti-LaSal National Forest.
This 85-mile section of the trail across the Manti-LaSal National Forest follows Skyline Drive from the small town of Tucker to the Sanpete and Sevier county line. Along this scenic route, you will be able to enjoy fishing in adjacent streams and lakes. The 11,000 foot trail offers a birds-eye view of the area including the unique desert landscape in the valley to the east. Several parallel trails are being planned for foot, horse, or mountain bike travel.
Highlights along this section include: camping and fishing in the Gooseberry-Fairview Reservoir area; a side trip to Joes Valley Reservoir for camping and fishing; camping and fishing at Ferron Reservoir; a short side trip to Grove of Aspen Giants Scenic Area.
This section of trail on the Fishlake National Forest starts at the White Rim offering spectacular views of Salina Canyon to the south. From there the trail heads southwest through aspen stands and meadows, past 10,986 foot Musinea Peak, along Dead Horse Ridge around Bull Valley Mountain and past Steves Mountain, eventually crossing I-70 near the Gooseberry Interchange. Trail users then head southeast on a combination of trails and roads passing such interesting places as UM Plateau, Windstorm Peak, Willies Flat Reservoir, and Floating Island Lake. You may want to stay overnight at the Elkhorn Campground located adjacent to the trail.
Users along this section of the trail will enjoy the picturesque stands of aspen and conifer interspersed with meadows, opportunities to enjoy periods of solitude, and spectacular vistas of the San Rafael Swell, Henry Mountains, LaSal Mountains, Burr Desert, and Waterpocket Fold.
The trail continues south past Thousand Lake Mountain and the towering cliffs of Hells Hole into Red Rock Desert. It follows Sand Creek into Torrey where trail users will be able to buy supplies at the small general store.
Trail users wanting more information about the trail across the Dixie National Forest may want to stop at the Teasdale Ranger Station three miles away. The trail heads south out of Torrey along the county road onto the forest and up Fish Creek drainage to Boulder Top. The walk across the top will be the highest point on the trail in Utah with some elevations above 11,000 feet.
The trail leaves the top at Bowns Point and heads southwest through stands of aspen and open meadows with some stands of ponderosa pine. Fishing opportunities abound in lakes and streams near the trail. Camping is available at Blue Spruce, Posey Lake, Barker Reservoir, and Pine Lake.
The trail travels along Johns Valley Road to Rubys Inn and then into the East Fork of the Sevier River Drainage where it leaves the forest at Crawford Pass. This section of the trail offers interesting side trips to Bryce Canyon National Park. In fact, you may want to hike an alternate route down Podunk Creek through Bryce Canyon National Park. Remember that animals are not permitted in the park.
The trail heads south on BLM administered land, down Meadow Canyon to the Deer Springs Ranch eventually reaching Deer Spring Wash. Trail users will enjoy the change of climate and vegetation as the trail enters a more arid part of the state. Stands of juniper stand out against the backdrop of Navajo sandstone common to the area.
The trail continues south into Kitchen Corral Wash crossing Highway 89 into Kaibab Wash where the Utah trail reaches one of its lowest points, at approximately 4,800 feet. Turning southwest, the trail enters Arizona near Pine Hollow Canyon.