Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Devil's Gate Valley Loop

One of my personal favorites in the area is the Devil's Gate Valley Loop or "Church Camp Loop". This ride is out of Mantua and is a spur off of the Willard Peak road. It is a fairly challenging route both physically and technically speaking. It provides a remote alpine feel without having to go too far to get it. It's also a fairly exciting route as far as the tech factor goes. There are Fantasitc Views to be had all along the route as soon as you get off of the Willard Peak Road and drop down into the valley proper. At one point, you are right above Ogden Valley above Liberty.
Distance: 11.69 miles as described with numerous options for longer and shorter rides.
Physical Difficulty: Strenuous (short, steep climbs with lots of embedded and loose rocks. Road can be rutted quite severely at times).
Technical Difficulty: 4 out of 5 with a couple of short sections that rank at a 5. Watch out for those rocks on the descents, they will get you if you aren't paying attention.
Tread Type: Jeep roads and ATV trails (don't let this fool you, it really is a fun ride).
Elevation Gain: Trailhead at 5796' with a high elevation of around 7200'. Total elevation gain is just shy of 2400'.
Description: The trail begins at a spot called "Dock Flat" It is located on the Willard Peak Road about 2 miles south of Mantua. For directions to the Willard Peak Road, see this link. Simply type in your address and it will tell you just how to get there. Once you are on the Willard Peak Road, drive until you go through a gate and up a set of switchbacks. At the top of the switchback, there is a large flat area with plenty of room to park. Find a good spot out of the way and get ready to go.
The ride begins with a good warm up climb up the Willard Peak Road proper for just uner 2 miles. At which point you will reach a spur that takes off to the left and heads east to the bottom of a valley below you. This is your turn. When you leave the main road, the traffic all but disappears and things get much quieter. Follow the road through the valley following the signs for "Camp Mantua" passing beaver ponds along the way. If you're lucky you may see one.
Once you get to the camp, take the left turn (the one without the gate) and climb a short stiff hill to the top and a cattle guard. This is where the loop itself begins. I will describe the route as a counterclockwise loop, but it can be done either way.
Go straight at the top of the climb and ride through the aspens and maples to the church campground. At the campground head straight though and follow the route up the canyon. The road becomes quite primitive hear and crosses the creek a couple of times. It's a steady and fairly steep climb all the way to the top of the draw and a great view of the Ogden Valley below.
At the top of the draw, take a left and head up the ridge line. This is a steep and rocky climb with lots of loose rocks and is quite technical. See if you can make it up without dabbing. It's good for you, I promise. At the top of the climb, the trail flattens out and follows the side of the mountain then heads down. Watch out for the loose rocks in this section. You will soon come to a fence. Jump the fence and take a left turn to head downhill on the way back to the beginning of the loop. Be cautious on the descent as it is riddles with large, loose rocks and ruts in the upper portion that is quite steep. As the trail descends, though, it becomes smooth and fast and fun.
Soon you will be spat out back ot the cattle guard where you simply retrace your steps back to your car.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Welcome to my blog!

After 16 years of riding my mountain bike in the mountains of Box Elder County, I have realized that the amount of information available to the public regarding trails and routes here are limited at best. The county publishes a trail map, but I have to say that it is lacking in the amount of content and it is less than inviting to the outsider. It gives no descriptions of the trails and there are no photos.
I have started this blog in order to rectify the situation and let you all in on a few of our secrets around here. There are great rides to be had here and I hope I can help people realize that.
The mountain bike rides in the area vary widely from high alpine singletracks to ATV trails and Jeep roads (I know what you are thinking, but they are quite a bit of fun).
Box Elder County is also a very popular place for road rides. There are hundreds of miles of rural roads with almost no traffic and nice wide shoulders to be had. In fact, the American Diabetes Association has been holding the Tour de Cure in Brigham City and Box Elder County for the past 6 years or so. It is the only Tour de Cure event in Utah and it gets bigger every year. We even have a few routes that are well suited to a cyclocross bike (think dirt roads and pavement mixed up in a nice little package). I will include a few of those as well as time goes on.
Eventually, I would like to put this information in a book and publish it. This in the meantime, is a way to get it out there and let you all know what's up here at the top of the state. I would love to hear your comments and questions if you have them as well as any suggestions as to how to better organize the information.
Happy reading folks and keep it rubber side down.