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Flume Trail  (Ephraim Canyon)

The Flume Trail in lower Ephraim Canyon follows an abandoned water-transport path around the foothills of Bald Mountain, then plunges steeply to the valley floor. It's 2.7 miles in length. After a fairly flat mile and a half, it plunges 700 vertical feet over one mile. It should be consider a downhill-only route.

Looking back at a section where the trail consists of dirt filling an old half-shell metal flume. Photos and trail track from a ride August 17, 2011 by Bruce.

The steepness of the drop from the mountain requires advanced or at least solid upper-intermediate technical skill. Most of the trail is smooth with a few short tech challenges. The trail can be shuttled via the Ephraim Canyon road, or you can pedal up the road for a 5.0 mile loop ride.

Pedaling up the Ephraim Canyon Road. It turns to gravel about 1/2 mile uphill.

The riding season for this trail is May through October. Earlier riding is possible with appropriate weather. Top altitude is 6700 feet, base 5900. Of the 800 feet of total elevation change, 700 feet of it comes within a single mile of the total 2.7 downhill.

This is the beginning of the trail, as seen from uphill on the Ephraim Canyon Road. We're looking west, down-canyon.

The first time I went looking for this trail, I couldn't find it. I had to go back a couple of years later with somebody else's GPS track. So if you're riding without a track display, pay attention. As of 2011, there were no signs at the trailhead, and it's easy to lose the trail within the first 1/3 mile. The photo shows the spot where I got lost and never found the trail in 2009.

Critical spot!!! Even with a GPS track, I went both Wrong Ways -- the doubletracks shown by the "DT" designation -- before I saw the little singletrack heading southwest. As the doubletrack forks, head straight for the middle between the two paths.

On the loop ride, the trailhead is 2.3 miles up the Ephraim Canyon Road from the parking spot on 920 East. (See below.) If you're shuttling, go 2.9 miles from where U-29 turns 90 degrees toward the mountains. Watch for a cabin on the left side, just as the road turns to the left. The trail is the doubletrack heading back to the west (parallel to the road, going back the direction you came).

Typical mellow flat singletrack on the edge of the old canal.

Your next navigation challenge is 0.2 miles down the doubletrack. The doubletrack splits, with one DT heading west downhill, and the other turning southeast uphill. Don't take either one! See the big pipe at the trail fork? Now look up and see the vertical pipe in front of the pine tree. The trail continues between the two pipes, heading southwest. (Look at the photo above!)

The trail lies on top of the old flume. Note the metal half-shell on the right, supported by timbers.

Once you're on the singletrack, keep straight as a couple of sucker ATV routes join and split away. Once you're a half mile along, you can't get lost. You'll find yourself on the edge of an old overgrown canal. Traverse around the mountain westbound.

Getting a little trickier, but still easy riding as we traverse around the hill.

As the trail winds around sandstone cliffs, some of the trail actually sits on the old flume structures. Stop and take a peek at the half-pipe you're riding on. Enjoy the views over the valley.

View back at Ephraim Canyon, looking northwest from the Flume Trail. As we've stayed level, the valley has dropped away from us.

After skirting the cliff with the help of some boardwalk structure, you'll again follow the edge of the old canal.  As the trail begins to turn south, it dips through the old canal at an old control gate. It now climbs a little to leave the old flume path.

A washed-away section of the flume is replaced by this wood ladder.

Here the mountainside is dry shale under pinion and juniper. The trail snakes southwest downhill at a 15% average slope.

Continuing the traverse around the mountain. To our left, the old canal channel. To our right, the mountain drops away steeply.

As you leave the hill, you'll work in and out of a shallow wash before joining a gravel farm road.

Follow the road west, then north back to your car.

Looking across the valley toward Ephraim at the mouth of Ephraim Canyon.

Most riders do this trail as part of a longer downhill, starting with the Pioneer Trail. Because the Pioneer trailhead is at 8300 feet, this longer ride can't be done until late June or even mid-July. The Pioneer to Flume downhill has 2500 vertical feet. Most riders will use a shuttle vehicle, which I recommend because it will allow you three or four trips down the mountain. Done without a shuttle, that 2500 foot climb on the gravel Ephraim Canyon Road is heinous. Especially on a hot August day.

Old head gate. This is where we leave the flume.

Pioneer-Flume ride total: 13.2 miles.
Climb on Ephraim Canyon Road:  6.6 miles at 6% average grade, with 5 of those miles at 450 vertical per mile.
Descent:  Total 6.6 miles with 3.0 on Pioneer for 1400 vertical (8300 top altitude to 7100), 0.9 on road for 350 vertical, 2.7 on Flume for another 800 vertical to base altitude of 5900 feet.

[ See Pioneer web page for mile-by-mile of combined ride ]

The trail winds through the trees angling downhill to the southwest. Some areas are loose enough to create a traction challenge at 15% downslope.

Riding notes, clockwise loop:
0.0   North on paved road N39 20.425 W111 33.882
0.3   R on Ephraim Canyon Road N39 20.646 W111 33.903
2.3   180-degree R onto DT N39 20.260 W111 31.590
2.5   ST straight ahead at end of big pipe
        N39 20.261 W111 31.746
        Critical spot! Leave ATV tracks
2.8   At flume
3.7   Old headgate, cross, climb
3.8   Begin plunge
4.5   Out into valley
4.7   Join gravel road
5.0   Back at parking       

Almost done. We'll drop down the ridge, then steeply left to the wash.

Getting there:  On US-89 in Ephraim, go to 400 south and turn east towards the mountains. At 300 East, turn right. You're on state road 29, the Ephraim Canyon Road. After 0.6 miles, the road turns 90 degrees left. Go 0.8 miles to (I think) 920 East and turn right. At the gate where the road becomes a "private driveway" (and your return path), park on the west side of the road. Begin the ride by backtracking north on the paved road.

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
      GPX Pioneer-Flume Loop   Flume Only
      Pioneer-Flume DH Only
Large-format area topo map:  View map
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to south Utah Co resources

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