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Paiute page 10

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From the Fremont Park-Castle Rock junction the trail continues south along Forest Road 113 following Mill Creek. About 200 yards south of the 1-70 bridges across Mill Creek, the main Paiute ATV Trail is joined. Those heading for Circleville and Marysvale continue straight while those heading for Richfield turn right. The previous chapter describes the route to Richfield.

The road along Mill Creek is smooth and provides for fast travel so be careful of other traffic. Here you can see fantastically eroded rock spires, or hoodoos. These are the castles of Castle Rock. The vegetation along Mill Creek provides cool shade in summer and a blaze of color in the fall. There are numerous, scattered sites for camping along side the stream. The walls of the canyon are composed of ash falls from the volcanoes that formed the Tushar Mountains. The vegetation is predominantly ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, cottonwood, and maples. After crossing Mill Creek, the trail begins to climb toward fantastic views. Soon limber pine, subalpine fir; and mountain mahogany are the predominant trees. The presence of an old spoil pile heralds the approach to the old mining town of Kimberly.

At the turn of the century, Kimberly was a thriving mining town of several thousand people. It was one of the larger towns in Piute County, and vied for designation as county seat. Gold and silver were the attractions that brought the miners. By the nineteen-thirties the gold had about played out and the town was in decline. The second World War brought the end. Now, all that remains of this raucous history are a few spoil piles and some abandoned mines. When traveling in this area be careful and show respect for others. Much of the land in this area is privately owned, respect it as you would your own property. Also, abandoned mine shafts are very hazardous, stay out of them!

Past Kimberly the trail continues through conifer and aspen forests. Openings give views of Clear Creek Valley below. A good view point is at Winkler Point, named in honor of a former Supervisor of the Fishlake National Forest and Chief of the Division of Range and Wildlife in the Forest Service. At the point there is a sweeping panorama from the Great Basin to the west, past Clear Creek Valley below toward the Sevier Valley to the east. The white cliffs to the northeast mark the southern edge of the Wasatch Plateau. From Winkler Point to the junction with the west leg of the Marysvale Loop, at Forest Road 123, the trail goes through a tunnel of aspen and conifer on a good road.

After the junction with the Marysvale Loop, which is described in a following chapter; the trail follows Forest Road 123 up the north side of the canyon of Beaver Creek. This is an excellent road that is fun to drive. The scenery is spectacular, but don't get so wrapped up in it that you forget to look for other traffic. This canyon provides spectacular views of mountain meadows in the bottom and mountain scenery across the canyon. The trail passes through aspen, mountain mahogany, and conifer woodlands before reaching timberline. Along the way the trail crosses an avalanche chute. The cut-off trees in this chute, and the two across the canyon that form a backward "D", give stark testimony to the raw power of these avalanches. Only small trees that don't stick up into the moving snow are present.

There is a spectacular view down and across the canyon at about the point where the trail breaks out above timber line. Diagonaling across the canyon slope is the contact between light and dark colored rocks. This is the edge of a 20 million-year-old caldera. When it was young it looked something like Crater Lake in Oregon. Material spewed from the earth by the volcanoes that formed the Tushars, leaving a void. The roof sank into the void like a piston, forming a crater on the surface. Rocks slumping down the rim were bleached by sulfuric steam escaping from below. Eons of erosion have removed the crater shape, so that all that remains is the black and white band across the hillside.

While looking across the canyon, note the scars from old mining roads criss-crossing the slope. These scars last a long time in this harsh alpine environment. They serve as reminders that travel in this area is restricted to designated roads. Above timberline it is very tempting to ride to the edge of the canyon since there are no trees in the way. However; this activity only leads to damaged scenery and further travel restrictions. So if you want to see that canyon over the ridge; walk, don't ride, to the nearest viewpoint.

Approaching the highest point on the trail at the pass above Bullion Pasture between Mount Belknap and Delano Peak, the trail passes beneath trees that have been shaped by the wind. This type of forest is called 'krumholtz" or "elfenwood", the dwarf forest. These trees are beat mercilessly by winter storm winds carrying ice crystals that cut like razors. Branches extend from the trunks only on the downwind side, indicating that the predominant wind is from the southwest.

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