Skyline Trail Horseback Riding
The 18th most popular equestrian trail in Utah.
Thursday 30 June 2016 05:27 GMT
The Skyline trail is interconnected horseback riding route that crosses the backbone of Utah's Wasatch Front. The Front is a line of mountains rising abruptly and towering more than 4,000 feet above the nearby valley floor. They began their formation in the mid-Cenozoic era, about 20 million years ago, during the rifting of the Great Basin. The erosive forces of rivers and streams have worked since then to slice through the range, leaving natural kickoff points for each segment of the Skyline. The horseback riding routes, passing through the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, offer extensive vistas in all directions.
1) The first outstanding ride begins in Ogden Valley at 4,800 feet and twists up heavily wooded coulees, across small meadows, then crests on a barren ridge, right around the 8,100-foot elevation mark. Technical skill and endurance are required for this 11 mile ride, especially near the finish when a series of heavily worn, poorly maintained switchbacks are the final challenge to staying saddle bound.
From the start, eliminating the 3,300 vertical feet is the objective. After a couple miles of continuous climbing, the trail takes off on a rocky rolling and winding joy ride, cutting through more forests and small meadows on the way to more challenging climbs. This trail is a well-worn collection of hardpack and exposed rock and only occasionally requires orienteering skills. Confusion may overtake a hapless victim at a southwest turn to Louis Peak, which is marked only when the sign hasn’t fallen over. Expect the turnoff around mile seven, just after a steep half-mile climb to the exposed grassy saddle. From this junction, a slight climb remains before the start of a three-mile downhill. Long, straight sections of deeply worn singletrack enhance the excitement created by the extensive open views. The final mile of badly eroded and sporadically rocky switchbacks will test riders skills and endurance.
Since this is not a loop ride, the return to the trailhead is on blacktop and drops from North Ogden Pass into Ogden Valley. The main road heads to Eden, where SR158 connects and traces the reservoir back to the parking area.
2) The second leg of the Skyline climbs to Ben Lomond Peak (9,712 feet). The deceptive wooded start and smooth ascent soon give way to a loose, shale-covered path. By mile three, the hot, south-facing route heads into cool forest shade for another mile and a half of granny gear spinning.
If this excitement isnt enough, the true grandeur of this ride appears as the singletrack cuts across the mountain and heads north, traversing the extremely steep slope. Grass and wild flowers cover the slope and frame far-reaching views of the valley, the Great Salt Lake, and distant mountain ranges. Even though this is an uphill section, the gentle slope frees the rider to enthusiastically attack the ride.
The narrow singletrack eventually yields to more short and hardy climbs, ending with bumpy straight sections. These trace the ridge line along the edge of the west face of the mountain, presenting more breathtaking vistas.
Finally, a small meadow, at the junction with Cutler Spring Trail, marks the final ascent to the summit. From here, the last half mile requires a hike-a-bike over the broken rock -- except for extreme riders. Just before the peak, another branch continues the Skyline toward Willard Peak and, eventually, back to Brigham City (many, many miles away). Returning to the parking area is via the same trail. Watch for left hand turns to North Fork Park and Cutler Springs trail along the top sections. Each is worth exploring, but both end many miles and several thousand feet away from North Ogden Pass.
To reach the North Ogden Divide Trailhead from North Ogden, head east for 2 miles on North Ogden Canyon Road.
Access to the south trailhead is from the west side of Pineview Reservoir 1.5 miles from the Dam. The trailhead is near the Port Boat Ramp on the northeast side of Pineview Reservoir. There are drinking fountains, parking areas and restrooms. There is a good fresh water spring about half way along the trail.
Overall, Skyline Trail is the 18th most popular horse trail of all 25 horseback rides in Utah. Several of the better horse trails are nearby Skyline Trail including Desolation Trail and Stansbury Front Trail.