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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *