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Paiute page 18

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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 fall riding.

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 Forest history.

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 dry out.

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.


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