Dark Hollow Trail … My Second Ride of the Day
My first attempt at riding the Dark Hollow Trail turned into a fiasco. I had ridden the Bunker Creek Trail the first morning we visited Brian Head. Cindy had picked me up at the Panguitch General Store after I had gotten soaked in a thunderstorm. But the skies had somewhat cleared so … we drove back toward Brian Head Mountain … where the Dark Hollow Trail originates.
The trouble was … more thunder clouds seemed to be gathering when we looked at the mountain. We turned off Highway 143 onto the dirt road leading to the trailhead. Farther up this dirt road was Brian Head Peak. As soon as we had turned off we came across a whole bunch of vans with kids in track uniforms around them. It looked as if there was some kind of cross county run planned. We drove on past the crowd and proceeded to pass runners on their way up the mountain.
We pulled into the trailhead parking lot and exited the car. The wind was gusting hard and the skies were getting darker. I set my fanny pack on the ground and started to take my bike off the rack. The wind blew harder and the wind chill was painful. Cindy said she had to go to the bathroom and headed that direction. It was so cold that instead of taking my bike off the rack I went back and sat in the passenger seat, where I had ridden up from Panguitch Lake. From past experience I didn’t know how long she would be in the bathroom and I was freezing!
Heading to Peak
When Cindy came back she immediately opened the driver’s door and got in. I asked, “What are you doing,” to which she replied, “I want to go to the top and check out the weather from there. We will be able to see farther to the west so we can get a better idea of what’s coming.”
That sounded good to me, and it allowed me to stay in the warm car a bit longer, so I said, “Good idea.” She fired up the car and backed out of the spot. Just as she was turning the car to go on up the hill she said, “oh-oh, what did I just run over?” I looked at the ground and immediately recognized my fanny pack smashed into the shape of a tire tread. I yelled, “Crap,” as I shot the door open and ran to pick it up. I ran back to the car and got back in before I looked at the things inside.
I first pulled out my phone. The front face glass was spider webbed. But when I flipped it open it still worked. I teasingly said to Cindy, “Dear, look what you did to my phone!” She responded exactly as I thought, saying, “I did?” And then she said, “What was your pack doing on the ground behind the car, anyway?” I ignored her question and pulled my air pump out of the pack. It was bent so much I couldn’t complete one full stroke. I then whined, “Look, you have also ruined my pump!” I think she ignored me that time. Amazingly, nothing else in the pack seemed to be damaged.
I Wussed Out
When we arrived at the summit the winds were blustery and the skies to the west were black as the coal we’d seen in Durango. Once back in the car I announced I would do the Dark Hollow Trail at a later date. I didn’t really feel like getting soaked again, I didn’t have a tire pump (that worked), and I had plenty of days left to do the ride. So we headed back down the road, past the trail head parking, and started seeing a few runners coming up the hill.
Right as we reached the junction of the dirt road and Highway 143 the sky let loose … except I am not talking rain. Hail the size of large marbles pounded off the hood and windshield before us. We had just had the glass moon roof replaced the past year and I was hoping neither it nor the windshield was going to disintegrate. After several minutes, the pummeling stopped and I was able to step out and take a photo. The pavement was totally covered with the ice balls making it look as if it had snowed.
Cindy drove cautiously as we crept into Brian Head, only about 2 miles down the highway. I asked a few questions at the ski/bike shop, bought a new tire pump, and then we drove down the hill to Parowan. That afternoon I did ride the Three Peaks Recreational Area … and saw not a single drop of rain (or hail).
DARK HOLLOW RIDE INTERACTIVE MAP
- Below you will find a map for Dark Hollow Ride.
- Click the P for driving directions to the trailhead(s).
- Click Tracks or Icons for Specific Info.
I returned to the start of Dark Hollow trail four days later, in the afternoon. I had ridden Three Peaks (for the second time) that morning (with Jens and Catherine) and was anxious to see more of the area up around Brian Head.
We parked in exactly the same spot as we had when Cindy ran over my misplaced pack. The weather was totally different … sun shining, no freezing wind, no big black thunderheads, not a ripple of wind, or a smattering of clouds … a perfect day.
I started on the Sidney Peaks Trail, same trail I’d ridden on my way to Bunker Creek. This trail starts on a steep climb for the first 200 yards or so, levels off for another couple hundred yards, then gradually descends for about a mile. Distant sights are always available here, as this stretch of trail follows the ridgeline on the way to the Sidney Peak Junction. I could clearly see the town of Parowan far below, where I was going to meet Cindy at the end of my ride.
Riding fast over a few rocks I heard a clunk, looked down, and realized I’d lost a Gatorade bottle from one of my racks. I stopped and walked twenty feet back up the trail to recover the bottle. While walking back I felt a nice breeze lightly cooling my skin.
Finally on Dark Hollow Trail
After taking a left turn at the Sidney Peak Junction (1-mile into the ride) The Dark Hollow Trail soon dropped off the rocky ridge and into a green valley as wide as two football fields … with a mountain of rock (talus) to the left. The mountain actually looked like the giant gravel pile in our local earth-materials supply yard.
The trail hugged the left side of the valley as it curved around the base of the gravel bank.
Less than a half-mile later the valley and Dark Hollow Trail passed by Cub Lake (which actually looked like a small pond) and ended as it ran perpendicular into a double track. If I had continued riding the direction I was going I would have crossed the double track and off an abrupt drop.
I stopped at the edge and looked around.
From this drop-off I could see the ski lifts and some of the condos in Brian Head to the southeast. I could almost see the condo we had stayed in a few years ago while skiing.
Quite a View
I pinpointed the exact spot where Nicole (my oldest daughter) tore her thumb nail off while skiing on that trip. I also spotted the top of the big lift, which Kayley (my youngest daughter) snowboarded down on only her second day trying the sport. Looking far to the southwest I could see the Three Peaks Recreational Area I had ridden earlier in the day with Jens and Catherine Jensen. To the northwest I could, once again, see the town of Parowan. To the north all I could see was a stand of trees.
I turned north and headed down the double track into that thickly forested area. The road was fast, so fast I almost missed the Dark Hollow Trail junction. I slid to a stop as soon as I noticed a yellow ribbon and a small sign on the right which just said “Trail.” The double track continued straight but I figured I was supposed to make the turn. I soon realized how the Dark Hollow Trail got its name.
To continue this ride please click on Dark Hollow Page 2.
Click Brian Head Mountain Biking to see an overview of all the rides in this area.