From the Fremont Park-Castle Rock junction the trail continues
south along Forest Road 113 following Mill Creek. About 200 yards
south of the 1-70 bridges across Mill Creek, the main Paiute ATV
Trail is joined. Those heading for Circleville and Marysvale continue
straight while those heading for Richfield turn right. The previous
chapter describes the route to Richfield.
The road along Mill Creek is smooth and provides for fast travel
so be careful of other traffic. Here you can see fantastically eroded
rock spires, or hoodoos. These are the castles of Castle Rock. The
vegetation along Mill Creek provides cool shade in summer and a
blaze of color in the fall. There are numerous, scattered sites
for camping along side the stream. The walls of the canyon are composed
of ash falls from the volcanoes that formed the Tushar Mountains.
The vegetation is predominantly ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, cottonwood,
and maples. After crossing Mill Creek, the trail begins to climb
toward fantastic views. Soon limber pine, subalpine fir; and mountain
mahogany are the predominant trees. The presence of an old spoil
pile heralds the approach to the old mining town of Kimberly.
At the turn of the century, Kimberly was a thriving mining town
of several thousand people. It was one of the larger towns in Piute
County, and vied for designation as county seat. Gold and silver
were the attractions that brought the miners. By the nineteen-thirties
the gold had about played out and the town was in decline. The second
World War brought the end. Now, all that remains of this raucous
history are a few spoil piles and some abandoned mines. When traveling
in this area be careful and show respect for others. Much of the
land in this area is privately owned, respect it as you would your
own property. Also, abandoned mine shafts are very hazardous, stay
out of them!
Past Kimberly the trail continues through conifer and aspen forests.
Openings give views of Clear Creek Valley below. A good view point
is at Winkler Point, named in honor of a former Supervisor of the
Fishlake National Forest and Chief of the Division of Range and
Wildlife in the Forest Service. At the point there is a sweeping
panorama from the Great Basin to the west, past Clear Creek Valley
below toward the Sevier Valley to the east. The white cliffs to
the northeast mark the southern edge of the Wasatch Plateau. From
Winkler Point to the junction with the west leg of the Marysvale
Loop, at Forest Road 123, the trail goes through a tunnel of aspen
and conifer on a good road.
After the junction with the Marysvale Loop, which is described
in a following chapter; the trail follows Forest Road 123 up the
north side of the canyon of Beaver Creek. This is an excellent road
that is fun to drive. The scenery is spectacular, but don't get
so wrapped up in it that you forget to look for other traffic. This
canyon provides spectacular views of mountain meadows in the bottom
and mountain scenery across the canyon. The trail passes through
aspen, mountain mahogany, and conifer woodlands before reaching
timberline. Along the way the trail crosses an avalanche chute.
The cut-off trees in this chute, and the two across the canyon that
form a backward "D", give stark testimony to the raw power of these
avalanches. Only small trees that don't stick up into the moving
snow are present.
There is a spectacular view down and across the canyon at about
the point where the trail breaks out above timber line. Diagonaling
across the canyon slope is the contact between light and dark colored
rocks. This is the edge of a 20 million-year-old caldera. When it
was young it looked something like Crater Lake in Oregon. Material
spewed from the earth by the volcanoes that formed the Tushars,
leaving a void. The roof sank into the void like a piston, forming
a crater on the surface. Rocks slumping down the rim were bleached
by sulfuric steam escaping from below. Eons of erosion have removed
the crater shape, so that all that remains is the black and white
band across the hillside.
While looking across the canyon, note the scars from old mining
roads criss-crossing the slope. These scars last a long time in
this harsh alpine environment. They serve as reminders that travel
in this area is restricted to designated roads. Above timberline
it is very tempting to ride to the edge of the canyon since there
are no trees in the way. However; this activity only leads to damaged
scenery and further travel restrictions. So if you want to see that
canyon over the ridge; walk, don't ride, to the nearest viewpoint.
Approaching the highest point on the trail at the pass above
Bullion Pasture between Mount Belknap and Delano Peak, the trail
passes beneath trees that have been shaped by the wind. This type
of forest is called 'krumholtz" or "elfenwood", the dwarf forest.
These trees are beat mercilessly by winter storm winds carrying
ice crystals that cut like razors. Branches extend from the trunks
only on the downwind side, indicating that the predominant wind
is from the southwest.
continued next page
Thursday, December 09, 2010