First off, a little self advertising info; the SUV is now sporting, on the passenger doors, an advertising panel for this travel blog. It has the main header photo which happens to be an overlook of the Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park, the name of the blog and its link. Pretty snazzy, huh?
This next foray onto the county roads north of Monticello is into an area I refer to as the lower part of the Manti-La Sal Forest. Most folks travel up Abajo Drive/CR101 and then down Harts Draw Road to Route 211; or they travel the forest road to Blanding all of which is at a higher elevation. I was out here for about five hours finding roads or trails that continually looped into one another; also found some wildflowers I'd never seen before. Yeah, it was a great ride! Better give you the map now or you'll be totally confused.
I began this adventure down a road I've been on several times before, CR 103, which leads to Spring Creek and many a campsite. The sides of the road are not as closed off as some of the other county roads I've written about; the occasional abandoned homestead can still be seen. Getting into the forest area comes rather quickly; the quiet does surround you.
An ATV trail goes off to the left at the 3.2 mile mark and splits to another trail going left, or straight. There are camping areas; the trail straight opens up to a spectacular view of the Abajo Mountains.
At mile mark 4 is another trail to the left; there's a pond along the way, but it dead ends at a homestead, so this isn't a good place to consider camping in.
At 4.9 miles was another ATV trail leading to the right; like many of the ATV trails, it was unmarked and more than likely made by local riders. I'm going to jump to the end of CR 103 to mile mark 7.3; at this junction is CR 105 in the middle which brings you to CR 101 (mile mark 9) and only one mile from Foy Lake and the turn to Harts Draw Road; to the left is CR 103/105 which will bring you directly to Monticello Lake (mile mark 7 on CR 101); to the right is CR 165 which dead ends at a road maintenance area.
So, backtrack to mile mark 5.2 to CR 160 and if you enjoy riding loops, then you're in for a treat on this road. This section of the Manti-La Sal forest is where I spent most of those five hours; just as I thought I'd found a new road or ATV trail, there I was back on CR 160. Buckle up, pay attention and have patience; good thing I wrote it down and mapped it out, or I might still be looping around those trails.
On this section of CR 160, it's only 1.2 miles before you reach a junction; an unmarked ATV trail to the far left, 119 is an ATV trail slightly left and to the right is the "Wildlife Study Plot". This trail splits at 9/10s of a mile; the left loops around to CR 160; the right is CR 166 which eventually loops back to...you guessed it, CR 160, but with more ATV trails along it.
|119 is an ATV trail; it becomes more narrow and rutted further downward.
|View from the Wildlife Study Plot Trail.
6/10th of a mile - ATV trail 5382
2.4 miles - ATV Trails 5123 and 5383; 5123 loops back to CR 160 near the 119/Wildlife Study junction.
Total loop in mileage is 4 miles.
Get ready for a little more confusion, it's not done with yet. After looping around for a couple of hours, I finally went back to CR 103 and Route 491. There was another road further north I wanted to check out which turned out to be CR 160/FR 175 - Peters Point (Chaining). Do I really have to say where it loops to?
Here we go again folks! 1.7 miles along the road will be a junction; to the right is a dead end to private property; to the left is ATV Trail 5115 which comes to another junction after 1.6 miles: ATV Trails 5123 and 5383 (sound familiar?). I simply took the trails back to the 119/Wildlife Study/CR 160 junction, then back to CR 103. Well now I needed to relax and what better way than to go into the Manti-La Sal Forest, but at a higher elevation.
Instead of directly back to Route 491, I went to the 103/105/165 junction, made the first left and followed the road to Monticello Lake. Heading east on CR 101 (towards Monticello) I spied ATV trail 5128; oh what the heck; and off I traveled on it. It was a little harrowing in spots where the road was more rock and potholes than road itself, but I finally ended up in a flat area with campsites. Amazing views!!!
|The Abajo Mountains
|City of Monticello lies below.
|Another possible ruin pile?
Wait, wait, wait...there's more! The wildflowers were amazing during this jaunt through the lower region of forest.
|Arrowhead Balsamroot - only found in the areas covered by the Great Basin; San Juan County is not one, but this plant is here.
|Datil Yucca (Agave family)
|Eaton's Penstemon (Figwort family)
|Dwarf Evening Primrose
|Many-Flowered Goldeneye (Aster family)
|Preuss' Milkvetch (Pea family), rear is Silvery Lupine (Pea family)
|Stinking Milkvetch (Pea family)
|Western Blue Flag Iris
|Field of Western Blue Flag Iris
|Yellow Salsify (Aster family)
To say I was exhausted by the end of this is an understatement. Home for lunch and a nap! So much to see, so much to do and enjoying every precious minute of it.