Every once in a while, the snowmobile Gods are smiling down
on us. Last season there was a lot of frowning around the West as snow
conditions were less than ideal in most places.
However, during one 3-4 day stretch, we had riding
conditions that left us smiling long after the sleds were put away for the day.
One of those days found us in northcentral Utah, north of Strawberry Reservoir, on
Duchesne Ridge. We were all smiles as the day dawned bright and sunny with
two-three feet of new powder—light, dry, exquisite and untouched.
With conditions like that our itinerary for the one-day ride
was simple: ride through the trees, up hills, track up meadow after meadow,
climb up and over mountains, scoot along ridgetops.
Yep, that pretty much sums it up.
The area we rode was basically sandwiched between the Mirror
Lake Complex and Strawberry Reservoir in the UintaNational Forest.
We left the Nobletts trailhead, accessed via Utah Highway 35
past Woodland, followed the Nobletts Trail (E) to where it intersects with the
Soapstone Trail (C), continued on Soapstone past where it meets the Wolf Creek
Trail (D) and then dove off (pretty much literally) into the trees and deep
powder. There the going was a bit challenging—meaning you had to stay on the
throttle or the powder would suck man and machine under. Not a bad way to go,
mind you, but there was too much territory to explore for us to go under so
early in the day. We definitely didn’t want to get too worn out from digging
our sleds out before .
A Romp In The Snow
Eventually we made our way to Silver Meadow where we romped
in the powder before moving on to Wolf Creek Summit. The Wolf Creek Trail goes
up and over the summit (elevation 9,485 feet). The closer we got to Wolf Creek
Summit, the more snowmobilers we saw. So, we decided to ditch the crowd and
head toward Duchesne Ridge, which we had all to ourselves for miles and miles.
To reach Duchesne Ridge, we climbed above Wolf Creek Summit
and headed across a wide open plateau. Once up on top of the plateau, we could
see miles and miles of the Wasatch Range, the impressive and distinctive
mountains just east of SaltLake and Utah
We than dropped off Duchesne Ridge, where you have to
carefully pick your fight (or at least your route off the ridge) or you’ll be
heading down faster than you want to a place you don’t want to. After some
slick maneuvering, we managed to drop off the ridge into a little drainage that
leads to the West Fork of the DuchesneRiver.
As we worked our way off the ridge, it seemed like all of
central and southern Utah
was spread out before us as we could see for miles on this clear, crisp day. We
could easily see Coyote Ridge and beyond, including the mountains that
separated us from Strawberry Reservoir.
What? Us Stuck?
One particularly fun and sometimes challenging swath of snow
was in that drainage, where we worked pretty hard (read: got stuck a lot) to
get back up on a ledge. Was on the ledge, we worked our way (in a real round
about way) through several more drainages and up and over some hills before
dropping down to a backcountry road that follows along the West Fork of the DuchesneRiver. We rode along the river for
several miles before coming back out to the Soapstone Trail (C), several miles
south of where we started the day. We never saw another track until we got
close to the groomed trail. From there we played most of the way back, cutting
cross country when we could and delay as long as we could our arrival at the
The day ended far too quickly and a look at the odometer
showed we only traveled 45 miles but the gas tank was near empty and we had to
head back home. It was one of those days sledders talk about long into the
future, “Remember when we hit the snow just right at Duchesne Ridge.”