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Josephite Point Trail
Pete's Hole Loop

The Josephite Point trail is a remote singletrack on the eastern side of the Wasatch Plateau. It links two of the many lakes in the area, Pete's Hole on the north and Mary's Lake on the south. The singletrack itself is 7 miles in length, and can be done as an out-and-back, as a shuttled ride, or as a long loop ride called the Pete's Hole Loop.

View south from the Josephite Point singletrack. Photos and ride review on July 26, 2015 by Bruce.

The trail is good enough to stand alone as a destination ride. Most bikers, though, would come to the Joes Valley area for other reasons, then do this ride while they're there. The Wasatch Plateau between Joes Valley and Ephraim Canyon is heavily used for camping and ATV riding. Joes Valley Reservoir is a popular fishing spot. 

Looking east a few switchbacks up SR 29, showing Joes Valley Reservoir plus the lie of the area roads.

The singletrack has a primitive feel to it, with very narrow track through meadows and a bit of rock and root-banging in the fir forest. The singletrack is upper-intermediate in tech requirement. However, the length of the ride and the altitude require good aerobic conditioning.

At just over four miles uphill, we're finally out of the hot lower altitudes and into alpine scenery.

The riding season is July through September. Due to the remoteness and the occasional seep areas, I'd give the trail until at least mid-July so the ground is fully dry and Forest Service crews can cut the deadfall and trample the trail for you.

Paintbrush blooms at roadside.

Less-conditioned riders can do a short half-way out-and-back from Pete's Hole. (I don't recommend a partial out-and-back from Mary's Lake because of steeper slopes near this trailhead.) My suggestion for early-intermediates would be to pedal from Pete's Hole to Josephite Point, hike to the viewpoint, then return. This ride would be 9.2 miles with around 500 feet of overall climbing, plus a half-mile out-and-back hike to the viewpoint.

On SR 29, we've reached the glacial bench that supports the multiple lakes of the eastern slope. The ridgeline above is the location of the Skyline Drive. We're almost at our trail fork to FR 005.

Quick stats for ride options, easier to very difficult:
Pete's Hole out-and-back to Josephite Point  9.2 miles, 500 feet climbing
Shuttled, riding from FR005 to Joes Valley  20 miles, 1700 feet climbing
Out-and-back from Pete's Hole Reservoir  13.9 miles, 2100 feet climbing
Out-and-back from SR 29  16.6 miles, 2500 feet climbing
Pete's Hole Loop   28.2 miles,  3300 feet climbing

Sticky Geranium blooms along FR 005 as we cross Seely Creek.

This page will describe the longer Pete's Hole loop that starts near Joes Valley Reservoir where SR 29 turns from pavement to gravel. Embedded in this big ride are the details you'd need for an alternate ride, such as the shuttle or out-and-back.

One mile along FR 005, we're at our first lake, which I believe is called Soup Bowl. I've gone a bit down the lake road to take this photo.

Start the Loop!  State Road 29 at Joes Valley Reservoir

As you drive uphill past the dam at Joes Valley, the paved road curves around the north end of the lake. After the road has begun climbing uphill, you'll reach an intersection where the paved road turns 90 degrees left and descends toward the campground. The continuing gravel road is SR 29, bound for the Skyline Drive, then Ephraim Canyon. If you're doing the shuttled ride, or the out-and-back at Pete's Hole, drive on uphill.

Arriving at Pete's Hole Reservoir.

For those who are doing the big Pete's Hole Loop, this is a good spot to start your ride. Just 100 feet uphill from the pavement's end is a pullout on the right. Your altitude is 7150 feet. Start cranking. The road is broad, with plenty of room for trucks and ATVs to pass. For the first four miles, it's 100% sun-exposed on a dry south-facing slope. An early start helps to avoid overheating on the climb.

Looking northwest as we circle Pete's Hole.

The rate of climb will be relatively mellow at around 6%. After the first four miles, the slope flattens out and you can increase your speed. Here the gravel gives way to hard-packed mud and the road narrows. You'll notice a significant drop in temperature as you pedal through groves of aspen, pine, and fir. The road flattens out as you reach the shelf east of the plateau's crest. At mile 7.7, fork left downhill at a signed junction with Forest Road 005 to Pete's Hole.

If you're doing the out-and-back starting on FR 005 from SR 29, find a spot to stash the car. (There are primitive camp spots and pullouts nearby.) Your ride will be 13.9 miles round trip.

Yarrow blossoms in the meadow near Pete's Hole.

Forest Road 005

The beginning of FR 005 is the drop-off if you're doing the 20-mile shuttled ride. You'll meet again along the reservoir, for example the campground or the fishing area.

The doubletrack will drop fairly steeply down to Seely Creek. Once you're over the creek, you have to climb uphill to regain that altitude, and then some. The road winds through multiple turns as it climbs and is occasionally rough. If you're in your car at this point with the bikes on your roof, you'll find the going to be slow.

At the parking area at the south end of Pete's Hole, we're looking back toward the lake. End of the doubletrack for now.

One mile from SR 29, you'll pass above a small reservoir to your left. This is a popular fishing spot, with plenty of trout swimming around on the day of my ride. Take a side trip to visit if you want, then continue climbing on 005.

The break in the log fence at the far end is your target. Keep straight for 100 yards as walking trails meander off in different directions.

At mile 1.5 from SR 29, you'll reach Pete's Hole at an altitude of 8850 feet. Here is the only bathroom on the trip, if you're a fan of not peeing in the woods. Keep left and cross the dike, then follow the doubletrack around to the far south end of the lake. You'll find yourself in a parking area with a log fence. On the loop ride, you're at mile 9.6. 

Here's where the climb is paying off. One beautiful meadow after another via great narrow singletrack.

Josephite Point singletrack

At the far end of the parking area, the break in the log fence is the beginning of the Josephite Point singletrack. Keep straight as a few foot trails branch off, and about 200 feet later, you'll pass a sign confirming you're on the right route. This route is part of the Great Western Trail, which is a series of trails stretching north-to-south through the mountain west.

Delphenium (Blue Fountain) blossoms in the damp ground alongside a fallen tree.

The Josephite Point trail follows a bench area on the eastern slope of the Wasatch Plateau, just a couple of miles east of the Skyline Drive. While much of the area is flat, there will be descents and climbs as you dip through drainages. On the singletrack, there will be four sustained climbs (and descents) in each direction, resulting in no overall elevation change on the singletrack. The Mary's Lake end is the same altitude as Pete's Hole at 8850 feet. The trail's lowest point is around the area of Josephite Point at 8500 feet elevation. 

Beaver ponds near the trail. The water is muddy here and there -- either a moose has been munching or the beavers are busy.

The singletrack links multiple meadows as it passes occasional lakes. In the groves of fir, there will be some roots to bang across and the occasional rocky climb. Creek crossings have bridges, but intermediate riders will occasionally have to bail and hike a few feet out of the creek's ravine.

Another meadow as we continue to head east.

In the meadows, the trail is narrow and occasionally overgrown with grass. In these grown-in meadow spots, just keep going where you think the trail was headed and you'll pick it up again soon. I had to stop and glance around a couple of times but was never confused about where to go. I didn't see any branching trails, so navigation is straightforward.

Tahooka daisy blooms along the trail.

In 2015, the Forest Service is adding improvements such as new bridges, and has cut new climbing switchbacks to replace a steep spot on the Mary's Lake end. With a few bike tires to roll it smooth, this trail could become a favorite. 

A bridge softens the crossing of a creek in a steep ravine. Further on, the Forest Service had just finished making a beautiful new bridge from the winter's deadfall.

At 4.6 miles from Pete's Hole (mile 14.1 of the loop ride), you'll reach Josephite Point. If you're doing the partial-trail out-and-back, this is your picnic and turn-around spot. It's marked by a signpost to your left about 20 feet off the trail.

A signpost says "Yes this is the right way." Most of these Great Western Trail markers have a bullet hole through the trail designation that says "Yes some people are jerks." Note that the trail consists of bent grass at this spot.

There's no path from the trail to the Point. You'll need to pull your bikes off the trail and hoof it. The viewpoint area is on the far side of the low hill to your left. Hike over and find a couple of spots to look down at Joes Valley. The walk will be 1/2 mile round trip.

This is the spot where the general direction of the singletrack changes from eastbound to southbound.

This is your target at Josephite Point. Hike downhill from the trail, then up and over the small rise. The views are on the far side.

Early in the riding season there will be an occasional swampy area. These were dry during my late-July ride, but horses had made the trail a bit bumpy. Not damn-it-I-hate-this bumpy, just not butter-smooth.

Many of the shrubby areas near groves of trees have in-growth grabbing at your shins and messing up your sight-line. So the pedaling isn't as fast as you might have planned for. Budget plenty of time for this ride.

Looking northeast from Josephite Point at the northern half of Joes Valley.

As you approach Mary's Lake, there are a couple of longer granny-gear grunt climbs that will tax your altitude tolerance. But they're quite do-able if your legs and lungs hold out. As you complete the second of these long grunts, you'll find yourself on the north end of Mary's Lake.

Lots of pretty lakes. I don't even remember which one this is.

You're at mile 6.9 of the singletrack, mile 16.5 of the loop (or 17.5 on my track file, because I carried the GPS unit with me on the hike to Josephite Point). This is the Mary's Lake trailhead. You can drive up Forest Road 041 to this spot if you want to do the out-and-back from the south.

Newly-constructed crossing of a seep. Note that, again, the trail on the far side is identifiable only by bent grass. Needs bike tires. Within 100 feet the trail is again a trail.

Forest Road 041

Keep to the left on the doubletrack and climb the hill to the south of the lake. You may be tired of climbing at this point, but you're not done. Over the next 3/4 mile you'll head uphill to the ride's highest point at 9000 feet. Then you'll begin a descent that feels like you're home free, coasting down to Joes Valley. Not quite.

View southwest from the trail toward the escarpment of the Wasatch Plateau, with another little glacial pond in the foreground.

After the initial drop, you'll traverse generally downhill but your cruise will be almost-too-frequently interrupted by another short climb. You'll pass a few more beautiful little lakes, which gives you a chance to stop and check out the wildflowers.

We're at the Mary's Lake trailhead (just behind us at the northeast corner of the lake if you're looking for it from FR 041). Still some climbing yet to go. Keep left.

At mile 20.2 of the loop (just under four miles from Mary's Lake), you'll hit a road fork. Turn downhill and keep on this road all the way down. You're still on 041. Now the road gets serious about descending. If you like flying 30 mph down dirt road, you've come to the right place. The average downhill grade is 5% for the next five miles.

FR 041 winds through aspen and fir forest as it heads south.

Closing the loop

At mile 25.5 of the loop, you'll reach a broad hard-pack gravel road numbered 170. Turn left and begin cranking northbound on the west side of the lake. As you reach the day-fishing turnoff, keep straight as the road turns to pavement.

Getting sick of beautiful lakes? Here's another one along Forest Road 041.

The road will now begin to climb -- you've got just over 100 vertical feet to get back to your car at SR 29. Keep straight again as you pass the campground and service roads. At the T intersection with SR 29, you'll see your car uphill to the left. 

And we've just turned the corner to start northbound. That's Joes Valley Reservoir in the distance, with quite a few downhill miles on forest road before we're there.

Bottom Line:

A ride worth doing, although not for the inexperienced or out-of-shape. My recommendation is the out-and-back from SR 29, 16.6 miles with 2500 feet climbing, and all of it fun. You'll need bug repellant (deer flies), plenty of sun-block, more water than you think, extra calories, and a good attitude.

For the Pete's Hole Loop ride, the combined distance, vertical, and altitude are a challenge. Five hours in the woods, multiple lakes, lots of flowers, 28.2 miles, and 3350 vertical feet of climbing.

Paintbrush on the left, penstemmon on the right, and a few desert trumpet in the upper right.

Altitude Profile:

This is the profile for the 28-mile Pete's Loop. My recommended ride (16.6 out-and-back from FR 005) lets your sedan climb the relatively smooth SR 29. Your on-bike climbing will still be substantial, but in smaller portions.

Riding notes, counterclockwise Pete's Hole Loop:
0.0   Pullout, R side SR 29 after pavement's end
        N39 17.869 W111 17.991
        Uphill on SR 29
4.6   Keep L at fork
        N39 18.478 W111 21.023
7.7   R downhill on 005 (Pete's Hole Road)
        N39 18.124 W111 22.925
8.7   Pass spur down to lake
        N39 17.762 W111 23.246
9.3   Pete's Hole N39 17.558 W111 23.336
        L around lake
9.6   Straight ahead through log fence
        N39 17.467 W111 23.161
        Josephite Point singletrack
14.1 Walk to Josephite Point on your left
        N39 16.847 W111 19.123
         (1/2  mile round trip)
16.5 Mary's Lake N39 15.290 W111 19.257
        Keep L on DT FR 041
20.2 L downhill on 041
        N39 12.684 W111 17.911
20.5 Keep straight on 041 at fork
        N39 12.803 W111 17.758
25.5 Hard L on broad gravel road
        N39 15.965 W111 16.867
27.3 Pass spur to fishing, road becomes paved
        Keep straight at other forks
        to marina, campground
28.2 At T intersection with SR 29
        N39 17.894 W111 17.949, L to car
Getting there
Option 1, via Price: 
From the Wasatch Front take I-15 to Spanish Fork, and turn onto US-6 eastbound. In Price, turn right southbound on Highway 10. After 28 miles, turn right on SR 29 toward Orangeville. Drive through Orangeville and stay on SR 29 up the canyon. Follow the road around the north end of the lake. Shortly after it begins climbing away from the lake, the paved portion of SR 29 ends. (The paved road on the left descends to the lake and campground.) To do the big loop ride, immediately park at the pullout on your right. For a shuttled ride or the out-and-back rides, keep straight and climb SR 29 another 7.7 miles to FR 005 to Pete's Hole on your left. Either start the ride there, or drive the rougher narrow road 1.5 miles to Pete's Hole.
Option 2, Ephraim Canyon SR 29 over Skyline Drive:  From the Wasatch Front, you can reach this trail through Ephraim. This will involve a lot of sometimes washboard gravel road and a climb to 10,000 elevation. Although shorter in miles, you won't save much time, or any gas, with this route. Take Highway 132 from I-15 and veer right on US-89 into Ephraim. On US-89 go to 400 south and turn east (left) towards the mountains. At 300 East, turn right. You're on state road 29, the Ephraim Canyon Road. Climb all the way to the Skyline Drive and turn left (north). After one mile, turn right downhill as SR 29 heads toward Joes Valley and Orangeville. Drive five miles downhill, watching for the Pete's Hole sign. N39 18.124 W111 22.925 FR 005 forks downhill to your right.
Option 3, Highway 10 from Interstate 70:  Riders from southern Utah can drive north from I-70 on Highway 10. About 38 miles from I-70, turn left on the south end of Castle Dale on SR 57. At the intersection with SR 29 follow the Joes Valley signs left. Climb the canyon up to Joes Valley and drive to your ride's start as in Option 1.
Riding resources:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
     28-mile loop from Joes Valley   Josephite Trail only
High-res topo map for printing:  View topo map 
Lodging, camping, shops:  
  Links to Price area resources

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