29: Perry

26 October 2023: 5.8 miles (3.8 miles unofficial BST). Trailforks Hike Log.

After being blocked north of Willard, we skipped ahead a bit to explore the trail above Perry. Today was supposed to be wet and wintry, but fortunately it turned into a very nice day for a hike! Joining me today was Robert Barnhill, the city administrator for Perry who (among his myriad other responsibilities) is leading this small city’s efforts to establish trails for their growing outdoor recreation community. The section we were hiking could possibly be the most likely segment to become the first official BST in Box Elder County, so Rob wanted to explore it with us to see what the trail looked like and what the prospects for designating it might be.

His first task came upon us at the very beginning, at the mouth of Perry Canyon. Geneva Rock owns the entire mouth of the canyon, and has pits on both sides. Fortunately, several years ago when they wanted to expand, they reached an agreement with the city to leave the creek bottom area alone, and allow permanent public motorized and non-motorized access through their property into the canyon. Currently, Robert is working to make this access more secure, including improving the trailhead and signing the trail we followed along the creek. It was surprisingly pretty and shaded, mostly shielded from the gravel operations.

Soon we reached the Brigham Face Wildlife Management Area, through which most of our hike would pass. We talked a lot about the prospects for working with the Division of Wildlife Resources, who own and manage this land. On the good side, they have less regulations governing what they can and can’t do, or requiring a lengthy permitting process. Unfortunately (as we discussed at length in Episode 6 above Orem), outdoor recreation is not part of their mission, except for hunters (given that the land was bought and is managed through funds raised by hunting licenses). It appears that the route we took has been designated a public road, so motorized and non-motorized access is officially allowed, making the job easier. However, he believes it may still take some convincing to designate it as BST and allow for things like signage.

There are a couple options for climbing from the canyon up to the Bonneville Bench. We chose the wrong one, a very steep double track going almost straight up. Apparently, if we had been patient and gone up the canyon a little further, a social trail climbs at a much nicer grade with a lot of switchbacks. Robert said he’ll come back and check that out. Once on the bench, most of our route followed the fire break/utility road, which would make a fine “Version 1” BST. One exception is where we crossed Evans Canyon, the deepest on this segment. The road went down quite a bit to cross, but a single track path has been cut into the side of the canyon that stays almost level, and passes through some nice shady woodland. The only issue is that it is quite narrow in places, and DWR may not like the idea of widening it.

We soon passed right under the iconic “I” on the mountain, which had almost disappeared in the decades the closure of the Intermountain Indian School in 1984, but appears to be freshly whitewashed now by some residents. We could look down on the ongoing effort by Brigham City to redevelop the school property, featuring a golf course, offices, townhomes, and a brand new satellite campus of Utah State University.

28a: South Willard

23 September 2023: 8 miles (0.9 miles official BST, 6.2 miles unofficial BST). Trailforks hike log

Oops! Looks like I forgot to report on this one. This was a beautiful early autumn day, as we left Weber County and crossed into Box Elder County. I was joined by two guests this time; Clyde Westley and Brad Noles are neighbors in Willard who hike this segment of trail a lot and are working to make it permanent.

Our first task was finding a way from the Pleasant View Trailhead out of the county. The official trail continues a little further along the powerline we followed in the previous episode, but then we hit a fence. North of there, the Pole Patch neighborhood blocks the way with solid private homes and private streets. We were able to find a path that avoided any fences or no trespassing signs, but I wouldn’t advise it, so I don’t show our route on the map. I believe the Trails Foundation of Northern Utah, Pleasant View City, and the neighborhood have been negotiating a way through there, so we’ll wait to see what they figure out.

Once we crossed the ridge into Box Elder County, the trail turned into a single track built many years ago by a Willard resident. It was a beautiful trail through a dense oak grove, with occasional views down to Willard Bay State Park (which Clyde’s father helped build when he was a boy). By and large, the trail is well designed and well built, with good grades. We crossed the mouths of several canyons, most of which had seen a lot of flooding this spring and summer, washing out parts of the trail. One of them was Maguire Canyon, named for Don Maguire, a mining engineer in the late 1800s who set up a couple of silver mines in the mountains above us. One of them had an aerial tram from the valley below that carried ore down the mountain in suspended buckets. Little remains of this except some bits of cable and one or two of the buckets, like the one Brad showed us (see photo).

Holmes Canyon above South Willard and Cook Canyon above Willard were especially washed out, with the current creek beds at least 8-10 feet below where the trail crossing had been. Just north of Cook Canyon, the trail ends abruptly anyway when it crosses into the property of a gravel pit. As we discussed it, we thought that if this segment is ever designated, it may be better to reroute this northern part down below these canyons and the gravel pits to their north, connecting to the canal road to continue north to Perry.

There will be challenges to making this trail official and improving it. The main issue, as we have seen many times before, is the “patchwork quilt” of property owners. The trail passed through parts of the National Forest and a state Wildlife Management Area, which may be a good possibility. However, other parts of the trail go through large private parcels, including land owned by sand and gravel companies. It seems like the foothills of Box Elder County have more gravel property than anywhere else we’ve passed through. Clyde, Brad, and other Willard trail enthusiasts have their work cut out for them, but I look forward to seeing what they can do!