What Could Have Made This Big Hole?
On my first ride in the Three Peaks Recreational Area I came across the Big Hole, then got lost!
The second time I did Jens’ Route … with Jens Jensen as my guide.
But this story tells how I found Big Hole.
We left Brian Head looking for better weather. Thunder … lightning … marble size hail. We experienced it all morning. I had gotten soaked riding the Bunker Creek Trail earlier. Despite the drenching, we had driven back to Brian Head Peak so I could bike the Dark Hollow Trail.
But I had chickened out in the midst of all that wild weather. So we headed north, down from Brian Head to the town of Parowan.
Traveling south on the I-15 from Parowan I decided I wanted to do more riding that afternoon. So just before arriving at Cedar City, I pulled the car off the freeway and set out for Three Peaks Recreational Area.
The Three Peaks Recreational Area had a huge parking lot for trail riders, as most BLM areas provide. I stopped and looked at the map posted by the BLM. There were trails for motorcycles and some for hikers and bikers. I spotted the trail with the name Three Peaks and decided that was the one … a six mile loop that appeared to surround the peaks … all three of them.
Before leaving I told Cindy I would probably just ride back to the motel on the streets when I was done trail riding. I don’t like riding on paved roads but the hotel was only 5-miles away and the roads were not busy.
Cindy Went Shopping
Cindy was going to go back to town and shop the small stores. Just before she left, she said, “I think I hear some shooting,” (she has this acute sense of hearing and smell). Once mentioned, I was also able to hear it off to the southwest. She said, “Make sure you stay away from there.” I assured her I would. With that she got in the car and I headed up the trail.
After leaving Three Peaks Recreational Area parking lot I immediately encountered some trailside signs aimed at making me a better rider. Like billboards along the side of a highway they dotted the serpentine trail up the small hill.
At the top of the hill I came to another sign. This one said “Technical” left, and “Easier” right. I took the more difficult path (story of my life) but found it only dumped me onto a torn up motorcycle road. I returned to the “Easier” direction and found a couple of neat little rock climbs. I followed some “Mountain Bike and Foot Traffic Only” trails until I came to a T.
Three Peaks Trail or Big Hole?
The trail to the left was the one I wanted … Three Peaks. The one to the right said Big Hole. “Big Hole, what could that be?” I thought. “I’ll just ride down a little and see what’s meant by Big Hole.”
Once heading toward Big Hole I came across one of the strangest sights I’d seen while biking. A dead tree had been decorated with all kinds of weird objects … skulls, other bones, car parts, flags, clothes, … made me wish I’d brought an old pair of boxers or something. I am not quite sure the significance of that “thing”, but I was sure I could write a poem more lovely.
Open Pit Mine?
The trail to Big Hole kept going and going … no sign of any kind of hole. Eventually the trail circled a small mountain to the north.
After I’d ridden about a mile-and-a-half, I came to the Big Hole, a good description. “Open Pit Mine” would have been more accurate. I spotted a couple of pickup trucks in the bottom that looked like Match Box toys.
I worked my way to the southern end and came across some remnants of a dead cow. I am not talking about a skeleton … these parts still had meat and fur on them. Curiously there was only a head, two hooves, and a piece I couldn’t identify. My mom has an old cow skull on her patio, but I had no desire to take this one with me, especially with that smell.
Now that I had finally found Big Hole, I decided rather than going back the way I’d come, I would just keep circling the mountain and return to where I’d started. That didn’t happen.
After I left Big Hole I biked up a dirt road until I noticed a cool looking trail that headed to the west, away from my final destination. I took that trail, even though it seemed to be going toward the gunfire Cindy had heard from the parking lot. This trail turned out to be fun, and one of the strangest routes I had ever seen. At one point I passed by a barbeque with ribs a cookin’.
Less than a mile later I came to a T, not unlike the one I’d met just above the parking lot. I was actually given the same exact choices I’d been given earlier. This time the sign read: Easier-left, Technical-right. Once again, I took the harder one.
Household Appliance Trail
This trail had a lawnmower, a stationary bike, a TV, mountain bike forks hanging from a tree, and a “Watch For Rocks” caution sign. This was not a high speed trail with long sweeping turns … but instead a skinny path that twisted sharply through steep little arroyos (desert canyons).
I climbed over rock ledges, peddled hard through patches of sand, bounced across dry creek beds, dropped off stone benches … I had a blast. One spot (just past the stationary bike) called for a drop down a 6-foot (dry) cascade. I might have tried riding down if I wasn’t alone in the middle of nowhere.
I rode on, totally lost in the challenge and beauty of this desert path. After a mile or so I started getting a little worried about a couple of things. The shooting seemed to be getting louder and louder … and the sun was sitting right on top of the distant hills to the west. I was having a hoot, winding through some kind of gnarly looking bushes when my little trail pulled a dirty trick on me. It ended. Ended right in the middle of a dirt road.
There was a trail sign directly across the road that someone had either put there as a hoax, or no one had ridden in several years. My only choices were … east on the dirt road or … west on the dirt road.
The gunfire was very loud … sounding like a battle was taking place right around the next little hill. So I decided to go east. My thoughts at that time were, “If I choose to go west, I most likely will be shot, and probably won’t live to tell about it. Plus, the parking lot and hotel are to the east.” I later found out there was a legitimate shooting range to the west.
Following the Dirt Road
The dirt road west headed straight up a hill. When I reached the top I thought I would be able to look straight down and see the parking lot. But no, all I saw was another mountain … with the dirt road climbing over it. This time the road headed somewhat north … but I still followed it.
Going in Circles
I followed that road for a good mile thinking I would top the next hill and see the Three Peaks Recreational Area parking lot … but the lot never appeared. Finally, still on the dirt road … not knowing where I was … I spotted a sign ahead at the top of the next hill. As I approached I started to recognize where I was. I had come in a complete circle. I was back at the Easier/Technical junction (I had had just ridden up the Easier part).
That left me with three choices. Take the Technical trail and see the barbeque, vacuum cleaner, stationary bike, etc. again, or … head back down to where I had just come, or … take the trail back to the Big Hole.
I rode less than a half-mile back north toward Big Hole before I found another trail that branched east. It took climbing two more hills before I spied the parking lot below.
Energency Pick Up
After racing back to the parking lot I called Cindy to see if she could pick me up there. She said she would head my way (from the hotel) and I said I would start riding her direction. We met a couple of miles from the parking lot. I was glad to see her as the sun had already set and the gray dusk was quickly taking over.
I had gotten to go on two great rides my first day in Utah. Those two rides were drastically different: one through a forest, the other in a desert. Both were a lot of fun. I slept well that night.
Click Brian Head Mountain Biking to see an overview of all the rides in this area.