Dowd Mountain Trail
The Dowd Mountain Trail is a 10.5-mile loop ride on the
southwest corner of Flaming Gorge Reservoir. The
trail is 1/3 singletrack and 2/3 double-track. The trailhead is on the
plateau south of the reservoir at 7500 feet elevation. Peak altitude is
around 8000. Overall climbing will be about 1000 vertical.
View of Flaming Gorge Reservoir from
the midpoint of the ride. Original review and ride instructions 1998.
Updated June 27, 2010 by Bruce.
|The trail is OK for strong novice riders. Most of it, in
fact, is downright easy. Beginners may not be able to ride the singletrack
west of the viewpoint due to loose and embedded rock in the trail. This
depends on the amount of TLC given to the trail versus erosion and
Beginners can ride the counterclockwise loop to the viewpoint, then
bail out on the graded road from there. Fast expert riders will be able to
hammer the whole loop ride in around an hour.
Typical singletrack meanders among
widely-spaced pines for the first couple of miles.
||I recommend riding the trail as a counterclockwise loop. As
you head uphill on the dirt road from the parking area, watch for
singletrack on your right about 100 yards past the cattle guard. The trail
heads fairly straight northeast. The trail passes through ponderosa pine
with an under-story of grassy meadow as it climbs uphill.
After a mile, the trail becomes less distinct. If you loose the trail
in grass, pine needles or rock, look for a blue diamond on a tree. If you
don't see one, just keep heading straight and you'll pick up the trail in
100 feet or so.
Navigation wasn't too tough, but wasn't straightforward, either. I
suggest you print the topo map (see below) or ride with your GPS using my
works his bike up a gentle grade through longleaf pines. This photo was
taken on our original trail review August 29, 1998.
|At mile 1.5, the trail joins a faint old doubletrack, then
forks right on a larger, well-traveled doubletrack trail at mile 2. (Note:
there were NO diamond markers and carsonite posts at this intersection in
June 2010. But once you go the right way, you'll spot a blue diamond
within 1/4 mile.)
The slope goes away and you'll do some high-speed cruising for
a few miles on the doubletrack.
Typical section of
high-speed doubletrack on the outgoing limb of the loop. Very little
altitude change here; in fact it's mostly downhill.
At mile 4.7, the doubletrack forks to the
left then turns northwest toward the viewpoint. At mile 5.7, turn right on
the main gravel Dowd Mountain Road and pedal 1/2 mile to the overlook.
August 29, 1998. Mike Engberson
pauses at the Dowd Mountain overlook with his old hard-body Giant Iguana.
Ooh, check out the tech bike clothing and the beanie-helmet. You've come a
long way, Mikey!
|At the overlook, there's a bathroom and picnic tables. The
continuing trail is the singletrack on the left. The terrain gives way to
juniper and sage. The trail surface becomes rocky. Follow the ridgeline
west for about a mile, then turn back southeast at the fork. (The right
fork at the westernmost corner of the singletrack goes down to the
reservoir. Unless you have a boat meeting you, I don't think you want to
go there. 1700 vertical down and back up.)
View west on the singletrack just
heading out from the viewpoint.
To the west are the peaks of the Uinta Mountains. These
mountains slowly rose up
between 40 and 80 million years ago, warping the layers above them into a giant
dome. Looking north over the reservoir from the top of the mountain, notice how the
exposed layers of rock tilt upward as they come towards you. The further north
you look, the younger the rock layers are.
to the southwest at the quartzite peaks of the Uinta Mountains.
| As the overlying layers eroded away, the underlying Precambrian
red rock is exposed below Flaming Gorge Dam. This quartzite is over 500
million years old. To the north,
successively younger layers are exposed, from the Permian (age of amphibians,
280 million years ago), to the Triassic (later age of the dinosaurs, ending
about 65 million years ago) just past the furthest northern corner of the
View north just before the singletrack
turns away from the reservoir, looking toward Beehive Point at the west
end of Hideout Canyon.
||At mile 7.4, the trail approaches the Dowd Mountain Road,
right where you turned onto it near the viewpoint.
Just before the road, fork hard right on Forest Road 613. Climb gently
uphill for a mile. A short distance after the road begins to descend, it
will turn 90 degrees to the left at mile 9.2. Keep straight and enter the
Wildflowers bloom along the
singletrack of the ridgeline.
|The trail will now head in a straight line downhill toward
highway 44. It will hit the gravel Dowd Mountain road right by the
the faint trail along the edge of the sage. The singletrack lies on an old
road-cut. Just keep heading downhill.
|Riding notes, counterclockwise loop:
0.0 Start up gravel road, pass over cattle guard
N40 52.937 W109 41.535
0.1 Fork R onto ST N40 52.892 W109 41.461
1.5 Merge L onto faint DT N40 52.513 W109 40.455
2.1 Fork R on doubletrack N40 52.658 W109 39.926
4.7 Fork L on DT, turns northwest
N40 53.025 W109 37.748
5.7 Fork R on graded road N40 53.636 W109 38.137
6.2 At viewpoint N40 53.830 W109 37.536
West on ST on left of viewpoint
|7.1 Fork hard L (R = down to
N40 53.802 W109 38.328
7.3 Fork hard R onto FR 613
N40 53.636 W109 38.162
9.2 Straight into ST as DT turns L
N40 53.106 W109 40.054
10.5 Back at road N40 52.921 W109 41.492
R to parking
||Getting there: On Utah Highway 44, look for the Dowd
Springs and Dowd Mountain Road signs about 14 miles south of Manila on the west side of
Flaming Gorge reservoir. If you're coming from Vernal, it's 11.5 miles
west of the turnoff to the Red Canyon visitors' center. The trail starts
with the graded road on the north side of the highway. Just past the cattle guard, watch for the blue diamond marker as the
singletrack leaves the road.
(see high-res topo map -- link below
-- for greater detail)
One-page printable trail guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
High-res topo map: View
Lodging, camping, shops: Links to Vernal area resources
Camping: developed campgrounds 11 miles east
Bathroom: At mid-point on trail.
Water: At campgrounds.
Bike services, maps, trail conditions:
Altitude Cycle, 580 East Main, Vernal. 435-781-2595
Copyright 1998 Mad Scientist Software Inc