Leaving Salina, the trail passes through rolling red hills. These red
rocks are much older than those exposed at the other side of the valley
in the Pahvant Range. At places, such as northeast of Sigurd, these rocks
contain enough gypsum to make wallboard. On the map this area is marked
by the word "Mines" and the crossed-picks symbol. Several wallboard manufacturing
plants are located in Sigurd.
After passing through the hills, the trail breaks out onto the floor
of the Sevier River Valley. Here, irrigated fields of alfalfa flank the
trail on both sides. After making a sharp right turn at a grove of cottonwood
trees, the trail heads west across the valley and crosses the Sevier River
at the trail's lowest point, 5,140 feet. Then, after crossing old Highway
89, the trail enters the town of Aurora.
West of Aurora the trail climbs the foothills of the Pahvant Range. It
is a good trail, but rocky in places. Vegetation is sagebrush and grass
with scattered clumps of pinyon and juniper There are good views of the
Sevier Valley, Musina Peak, Monroe Mountain, and the Sevier Plateau from
several of the ridgecrests. Northward there are views of the Gunnison Plateau,
while to the south are the Tushars, often snow-capped. A treeless depression
in these foothills is called Frogs Flat, but without water it is difficult
to understand how it was named.
From Frogs Flat to the mouth of the canyon of Willow Creek the trail
passes through scattered clumps of pinyon and juniper alternating with openings
of sagebrush and grass. The red cliffs southwest of the trail are composed
of material shed from an ancient mountain range that preceded the present
Pahvant Range. The cliffs are part of the fault scarp that raised the Pahvants
above the surrounding valleys. Recent movement along this fault is shown
by bare, white lines visible at the base of the slope. The lake to the northwest
is Scipio Lake, a reservoir supplying irrigation water to the town of Scipio.
This section of the trail is hot in the summer; but good for spring and
The trail meets the Willow Creek Road, Forest Road 102, near the Forest
boundary. On the flats below the canyon it is a good road, rising through
a mosaic of sagebrush and pinyon-juniper. On entering the canyon the road
becomes a bit rougher but is still good. Here there are cottonwood, oak,
and maple along the stream with pinyon and juniper on the drier hillsides.
Soon spruce and fir join in. Within the canyon there are several good spots
near the creek for overnight camping. Cool air drainage makes the canyon
cool in the daytime but nippy at night.
Near the top of the switchbacks there is a pull-off on the east side
of the road that provides a sweeping view of the surrounding country. To
the northwest is Jacks Peak. Then there is Round Valley and, on a clear
day, Mount Nebo can be seen over the Valley Mountains. To the southeast
is Beehive Peak and the Sevier River Valley.
A short distance north of the pull-off the trail passes a rain gage that
is a vital link in stream-flow forecasting in this arid country. The Pahvant
Range is tied to the water economy of central Utah in other ways, as demonstrated
by the contour trenches visible on the west side of the trail. These are
remedial measures constructed to retard runoff, allowing it to seep into
the ground. These trenches are a monument to a vital portion of Fishlake
Around the turn of the century there was no management of grazing. Sheep
bands raced to get the most grass before others ate it. Neither the absentee
sheep owners nor the government, which intended to dispose of the land in
homesteads, worried about the future. The result was severe overgrazing
which deprived locals of summer forage for their domestic stock and led
to destructive flooding of the valley towns. The surrounding communities
petitioned the Federal Government to correct these problems. Eventually
this led to the establishment of the Fishlake and other National Forests
in southern Utah. In addition to reducing grazing by as much as 700 percent
in some places, the Forest Service constructed contour trenches to retard
runoff. These trenches stop soil erosion on steep lands and allow vegetation
to regain a hold on the soil.
Both spring runoff and summer thunderstorms can make the trail across
the entire length of the Pahvant Range extremely slippery. The clay soils
are also highly prone to rutting, which leads to a rough road when they
This portion of the trail provides stunning overlooks of steep timbered
canyons to the west and red rock canyons to the east. Even though both sides
of the range have steep, narrow canyons, the Pahvant Range really does have
a split personality.
continued next page