Encounters with Hell in San Rafael Swell

15.5. - 16.5. 2004

Short summary

A quick weekend getaway to get some riding in San Rafael Swell. There are no designated bike trails, but, a lot of OHV trails, which can be biked on. Some are quite messed up, some are OK. I tried to pick up those that are OK, and, combined with the scenery, it was a great trip. The Swell is so remote, that even on the OHV trails one does not have to worry about hordes of smelly noisy ATVs and motorcycles, in fact, I haven't met a single one on the trail, just saw a couple of motorcycles passing by my camp and three ATVs at the end of Sunday ride.

On Friday I made a quick drive to the Swell, it took a bit under 4 hours from SLC to my campground near Twin Knolls, which was good (anything under 4 hours is good). The plan for Saturday was to ride as many of the motorcycle trails in the area as possible. I set off early to ride Five Miles of Hell, an infamously difficult motorcycle trail that some mountain bikers also tend to try. It was indeed quite an experience. Clickable map and fotos are here.
I was back at the camp at 1.30pm and rested for an hour before going for another ride in the same direction, but less strenuous - I call it Iron Wash Loop 1, since there are many ways how to combine the motorcycle trails in the area. I also feel that this particular loop combines the best of the area. Clickable map and fotos are here.
By the evening some front rolled in and it got windy, my asthma was acting, so, I pumped myself up with pasta and drugs and went to bed.

On Sunday I felt reasonably OK, the lungs still feeling worse than the legs. In any case, the plan was to ride Devil's Racetrack in the morning, and then see. This trail starts just north of I-70 near Dutchman Arch, and descends down to North Coal Wash. I did some exploring of the wash which netted in about 30 mile ride. The area is quite spectacular, tall canyons bordered by sandstone formations, like Canyonlands without the hordes. Clickable map and fotos are here. I got back to the car at about 2pm, so, I figured it's time to drive home. There I found a BLM OHV trails map on the net, and some more ideas for scenic rides in the Swell, for the next trip.

U of U / CHPC / Cuma / Travel / English / Swell 2004