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Trail Happenings July 2011

by Christoph Schork

The summer and early fall months in the high meadows of the La Sal Mountains is a great place to enjoy a horseback ride. Having ridden over many trails in the local mountains, I find Gold Basin area to be easy and short enough for beginning and intermediate riders, yet providing great views of the La Sal Mountains and an unsurpassed variety for horse and rider.

As you might guess, “Gold Basin” is named after gold discoveries that were made in the late 1800s. The trail ride begins at 8600 ft. and ends in the basin at 9700ft. The mountains have had an exceptional snow pack this year, so be sure to call for current conditions. The wildflowers should be outstanding, so beat the heat, load up the horses, and head for the cool fresh air in the mountains!

Getting There: From Moab: Drive 7.9 miles south on U.S. 191 from the intersection of Main and Center streets to the La Sal Mountain Loop Road. Take a left off of Hwy 191 onto the Loop Road and make a right at the ‘T’ in half a mile. At mile 20 from Moab, take a right onto Geyser Pass Road and you can find good parking for your rig on the side of the road. You may also elect to continue another 3 miles to the Squaw Spring (Trans La Sal) Trailhead and park your rig there. From this point the mileage to Gold Basin is about 10.0 miles out and back. You can add more mileage by combining your ride with Moonlight Meadows or go to the top of Geyser Pass.

Route Description: The route starts on the gravel road then drops from a parking area on a tight and steep single track into the basin. From the intersection with Squaw Spring (Trans La Sal) Trailhead, go about 2.5 miles up Geyser Pass road (gravel). Turn right onto the Gold Basin Road #141. The road ends at a log fence. To the left of the fence is a small single track that leads down the hill. The trail crosses a small clearing and a small stream. Before reaching the second larger stream, go left on a single track. You may continue on that single track as far as you like. Be aware, the further you continue, the fainter the single track becomes. There you will encounter more and more talus and logs, so turn around if the going gets too difficult for your horse. Follow the same trail back to your horse trailer.

Difficulty: The footing is generally good on the dirt road sections. The single track portion has some logs, shale and some sand. Your total elevation gain is 2450 ft. Plan about 4 hours for the approximate 10 mile round trip ride. Extend your time if you want to explore more routes in the Basin.

Concerns: This route is also used by mountain bikers, hikers and motorists. You’ll want to make sure your horse is comfortable when encountering mountain bikers, 4 wheelers and perhaps cattle. If you can arrange a trip mid week the area will be far less crowded.

For further information on this trail or other suitable equestrian riding trails in the forest contact: The U.S. Forest Service for the La Sal Mountains Region- Moab office at 435-259-7155 or contact the author, Christoph Schork at the Global Endurance Training Center 435- 719- 4033.


The Back Country Horsemen – Canyonlands chapter The chapter mission is: “to work to insure that public lands remain open to recreational and saddle stock use, to assist the agencies responsible for the management of public lands, and to educate, encourage and solicit active participation in wise and sustaining use of back country resources by horsemen and the general public commensurate with our heritage.”

Projects and affiliations: The Back Country Horsemen are currently working on building corrals at the Ken’s Lake equestrian campsite along with the BLM. This spring we enjoyed projects that included the signing of new trails, and we continue to be active participants as members of Trail Mix, (the Grand County non-motorized trails committee). Gina Giffen is the BCH group chair, or Helen Sue Whitney 435-259-7239 for more information about the club.

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