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Arizona Strip Frontier ATV Trail

The Arizona Strip Frontier ATV Trail is actually a combination of trails that start just south of Hurricane, Utah and makes a 63 mile loop down through the desert country of the Utah/Arizona border (called the Arizona Strip), that combines the Honeymoon Trail, Temple Trail, Sunshine Trail, Warner Valley Trail, and Sand Hollow OHV Park.  Since this combination trail loop doesn't have a name (at least that I could find), I've named it after ATV Frontier, (since they are running this trails contest) calling it the Arizona Strip ATV Frontier Trail.  If you need places to stay, there are plenty of motels in Hurricane.  This is an all day trip, best taken in the fall, winter or spring as this is serious desert country and the temperatures there can easily top 105 in the summer.  Even so, it's wise to take plenty of water, lunch and some extra fuel and the usual emergency stuff we all should carry.  My 650 Kawasaki made the trip easily on a tank of gas, but that also depends on how much playing you do on places such as the Sand Hollow Sand Dunes.  The trail can be ridden by an Novice/Intermediate rider, however there are two places, one on the Honeymoon Trail and one on the climb out of Warner Valley, that can be tricky and intimidating for the less experienced riders they will need help to get through these two areas.  This entire trail can be ridden on a 4X2 machine, but 4X4 is preferred.  I'll explain  more about these two areas when we get there. Also make sure your machine is properly registered (if required) and that you have flags as there may be park cops on  the Sand Hollow OHV park. All of these trails and roads are legal, mostly on BLM administered lands (which means that YOU own them) although the Sand Hollow OHV area is run by the Utah State Parks.  As of this writing, there were no fees required to ride on any of this loop.

Here's the basic outline of the country covered by the Frontier ATV Trail.  The short blue spur on the right side indicates where the Honeymoon Trail is.  The longer blue trail is a return short cut should a rider decide not to make the entire loop.

The trail starts south of Hurricane Utah, at the south end of the Sky Ranch airport.
In the middle of Hurricane, Turn South off of State Street onto S700W (Airport Road)
TR just before the Hurricane Airport (at the Animal Shelter) then continue south around the Hurricane airport.  Eventually you'll pass a second airport, the Grassy Meadow Sky Ranch Air Park.  At the south end of the Sky Ranch airport, right at the end of the runway just before you cross the cattle guard, is a parking area on the right side of the road (approx. 37 07 15N/113 18 46W).  This is good place to launch from.


From the parking area, ride south on the dirt road into what is called Grass Valley.  At about 3.5 miles you come to a fork in the road.  Take the left fork.  Along your left you'll notice a huge cliff line running N-S.  This is the Hurricane Cliffs, formed by the Hurricane Fault, which runs the entire length of the valley.  At some time in the ancient past, a huge earth quake dropped the valley and raised the cliff.  The only way to get to the top of the cliff is up the Honeymoon Trail, which is our first destination. Use caution as there may be automobile or even truck traffic on the first part of the Grass Valley road.  The farther south you go, the worse the road gets (better for ATV's).  It may be dusty too, so goggles are suggested.

Continue south for approximately 9 miles.  Just as you cross a large wash there is a trail that takes off to the left called the Honeymoon Trail (approx. 37 00 08N/113 18 16W) which is almost directly on top of the Utah/Arizona border .   The Honeymoon Trial zigzags from the valley floor to the top of the Hurricane Mesa.  It is the trail the Mormon Pioneers used to take get from Arizona to St. George so they could be married.  On the sides of the canyon walls you can still see the original trail made for the wagons.  I can't imagine driving a wagon up or down that thing.  I'll take the Kawasaki thank you.  If you go to the Internet (http://kutv.com/outdoors/local_story_154193131.html) Honeymoon Trail story and vid  there is some interesting information about the trail, along with a short video that shows some of the area.  It's about 2 miles from the valley floor to the top of the mesa, and is basically an up and back down as there's no place much worth going after you get on top, but the views from up there are breathtaking.  Near the top the trial crosses a rock flow that can be intimidating to less experienced riders as it causes an off camber situation very near the edge of the road near a steep drop into the gully.  This is the first area I mentioned where novice riders may need help.  I HIGHLY recommend helping each other across this 25 feet of the trail.  Speed is not required or advised as it's a LOOONG way down should you miss a turn.  There are two lookouts, one on the left (N) side near the top, and the main one on the right (S) side at the top.  Don't go through the gate you see once you get on top.  Just go right at the top along the fence line to the over look.


   
Me and Roxey the wonder dog on the 650i Brute Force.    Views from the top of the Honeymoon trail looking backwards Sand Mountain..

 
Coming down off the Honeymoon Trail take your time as there are lots of sharp switch backs..

After you descend back to the valley, again turn south (TL) and go south approx. 5 miles where you'll pick up the Temple Trail about the time that you cross Fort Pearce Wash (36 59 12N/113 20 45W)

Continuing south the Hurricane cliff will always be on your left.  Take the time to look around and enjoy the desert scenery.  This area is still very much like it was 150 years ago when the first pioneers came into the valley.

    

Temple Trail marker            A modern day cowboy on the Temple Trail.

About 9 miles further on south, you'll ride underneath a set of high tension power lines (approx. 36 55 41N/113 21 53W).  If later on you decide to take the short cut route back (blue trail), and not continue on the entire loop, this is where the shortcut return trail will drop you back onto the Temple Trail.  From there you just backtrack north back to where you left the truck.

Continuing south, the trail becomes tougher, and more interesting.  The cliff remains on your left as you traverse through an area of volcanic black basalt (approx. 36 54 07N/113 21 49W) called Black Canyon.  You'll see what remains of an old Ford pickup trailer someone used to haul something in there.

Beyond the Black Rock canyon you will come to a large grass flat.  Notice how the gully's have abruptly formed from the left out into the middle of the flat.  The trail here has moved over the years as the gully's deepen.  A Grand Canyon in the making.

Just beyond the flat, the trail forks.  TR here (approx. 36 52 21N/113 22 12W).  If you continued south, you could follow the trail clear to the Navajo Trial and on to Mount Trumbell.

Continue west now for about 2.5 miles till you come to a fairly good north/south road (approx. 36 51 58N/113 23 56W).  This is the turn around point on our loop.  Heading south will take you towards Mt Trumbell.  TR (north) back towards St. George.  About 2.5 miles more on the left you'll see the Blake Pond (approx. 36 52 49N/113 25 22W).  Here's a good place to have lunch.  Notice the lava capped ridges on the sides of the valley.   There was once some serious volcanic activity in this area.

 
Lunch on the banks of Blake Pond.

Leaving Blake Pond, you are heading north on the Sunshine Trail.  At about (36 56 19N/113 26 46W) the trail begins to zig zag back to the bottom of the valley.  When you get to the bottom of the valley, the trail will "T" as you again come to the high tension power lines.  Turning right (east) will take you to the short cut back to the Temple Trail (blue on the area map)  Turn left and the trail will run West for a few miles, then turn again North to continue the loop Northbound (approx. 36 57 42N/113 29 39W) towards Warner Valley and  the Sand Hollow Sand Dunes.

Just after the trail again turns North, watch on the left (west) side of the trail for a glinting glittery hill side (approx. 36 59 06N/113 29 13W) that looks like shining pieces of broken glass.  That's not glass.  It's a mica (a mineral made of thin, layered glass like sheets) mine.  You can find chunks of mica that are 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick.  It's an interesting place to spend a few minutes.  There's no shafts here, just gouges where they've dug the mica out of the hill side.  It's a neat place to explore for a few minutes.

Continue North for about 9 miles (this is a pretty good dirt road) until you come to a piece of pavement (approx. 37 03 09N/113 29 10W).  Continue for about 3/4 mile then TR (east)(approx 37 03 29N/113 29 10w) through a narrow pass that will take you into Warner Valley.

After about 2 mi going east, TL (north)(approx 37 03 08N/113 27 48W).  If you do not turn left, this road (south east bound) will take you past the old Fort Pearce site and all the way back to the Grass Valley road where you began.  After turning left, into Warner Valley the trail follows north up a sandy gully through Warner Valley.   The canyon walls will be on both sides of the trail, and you'll come up on some neat sand dunes hills that you can play on (but these aren't the best you'll encounter).  You'll see the red Sand Mountain Cliffs on your right.

Continue north through Warner Valley for about 10 miles until you come to the actual road that parallels the Virgin River (it goes W and NE) through the hill that's been on your left.  You can't miss it cause you can't cross it.

TR (North east) when you hit the road and follow the road for about a mile...WATCH FOR AUTO TRAFFIC!  Bypass the first large valley you'll see on your right.  ***If you have a serious machine, and love huge steep sand hills, take that first valley on the right.  At the top you'll run into a series of mega steep tall sand hills.  If you climb them you will you end up on the same trail described below.

OTHERWISE, pass that first valley, and after a mile on this road, you'll see a parking area on the right (apex 37 07 06N/113 25 35 W).  Here you'll see a well defined sandy road/trail that heads straight East, climbing up between the Sand Mountain cliffs.

Once you are on top, after about 1 mile there is a trail that turns South (TR) through an old fence line (approx. 37 06 44N/113 25 18 W).  If you continue straight (east) the road will take you to the sand Hollow Reservoir.

Now it starts to get fun.  TR through the old fence line and follow that sandy dual track whoop dee doo trail south about a mile and you'll come the top of a huge sand dune.  Drop down it into the valley (remember to play here a little) then climb up the trail on the other side.  From here the main trail curves SW then SE around the top of the rim towards an area of slick rock that you'll see farther to the south.  There are tons of trails on top, so it's hard to describe which one to take, but watch for trails that head towards the slick rock towards the SE as that's the direction you want to take.  You can't get lost here as most other trails dead end at the edge of  the Sand Mountain cliff  (don't get too close...it's a long way down!).  Once you get to the slick rock you'll come to the second place where you should help each other up a 18 inch ledge.  It's an easy up, but can be a little spooky.  Low range 4X4 here if you have it.  Help each other up the ledge.

Once on top of the slick rock, continue in a SE arc around the top of Sand Mountain.  You'll see one tall hill off in the distance about 5 or 6 miles.  The trail goes right to it.  There are lots of side trails to the right that will take you down into some interesting sandstone rock formations, but again you'll come to cliffs with no way off, so ultimately you'll need to continue on to that tall hill which you'll want to do, because just beyond that hill is the back side of the Sand Hollow Sand Dune where the wonderful sand dune bowls are located.  WAY FUN!  (approx. 37 03 53N/113 24 09W)


  

If you look north you can see the Sand Hollow Reservoir which you can ride right down to if you want.  There are miles and miles of trails and dunes to play on here, with dunes tall and steep enough to challenge about any machine.  You can spend a whole weekend here and not ride it all.  Watch for other vehicles as there can be a lot of them here, especially on weekends, with increasing traffic the closer that you get to the lake.  There can be buggies, jeeps and trucks here also.

When you get tired of playing on the dunes (as if!) on the SE side of the dunes there is a trail (approx. 37 04 25N/113 23 20W) that will take you off the east side of the dunes down about 2 miles into a north/south valley.  In the bottom of the valley, TL (northeast) (approx. 37 04 01N/113 20 51W).  This trail bears N/NE for about 10 miles where it will eventually turn east around the north tip of the hill you've been following off your right side and bingo, you should be right back to the Sky Ranch Air park where you parked your vehicles, about 63 miles earlier!

Now the disclaimer.  If you decide to follow this route, you do so on your own free will and choice.  I've done my best to describe the route, but make no guarantees that all of the mileage or lat longs are right.  It's a terrific ride, but much of it is seriously out in the middle of nowhere.  This is Butch Cassidy territory, and is much like it was when he roamed it.  Take the usual stuff, tools, tire repair, tow straps, matches, etc.  You and only you are responsible for yourself and your actions, so ride responsibly, don't do anything you are not comfortable with and DON'T go alone.  Besides it's always more fun to go with some buds. 

Be careful but most importantly...enjoy the ride.

 
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