Paiute ATV Trail

After riding for several miles up a mountain road, the path levels out for a bit and rolls through thick forest. There are miles of trail — days, really — still ahead. But a bubbling brook seems like a tranquil place to stop, turn off the engine, and listen to the natural surroundings. Bird songs arrive first, complementing the soft trickle of the stream. Wait awhile, some deer are likely to skip through. It is cooler up at elevation, so you're comfortable hanging out. This is why you're here.

If you’re an ATV enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of the Paiute Trail, located in central Utah. After all, it is one of the best and most extensive networks of ATV trails in the country. Driving the Paiute’s trails on an ATV or other OHV will take you between pine and hardwood forests, over mountains and meadows, and back down through the valleys of the Sevier River. The entire system spans four adventure-rich central Utah counties in and around the beautiful Fishlake National Forest — though you won't notice when you're crossing into different counties, you will notice how friendly to ATVs they are as you effortlessly work your way from trail to town.

The trail is so extensive, you'll get different numbers in conversations with locals, but they seem to break down like this: the Paiute ATV Trail System is more than 900 miles, the primary loop is about 245 miles, and additional side roads and trails (trails designations typically limited to 50 inch trail legal UTVs and ATVs) in excess of 2,000 miles.

Primary Loop 

The primary #01 loop through the Paiute ATV network is about 245 miles long, with an additional 1,000 miles of marked side trails. The trails are mostly rated greens (easiest) and blues (more difficult), with a handful of black (most difficult) side trails for more adventurous motorists.

Richfield is the largest town in the area, and is a great spot to gear up for the journey. You can begin at one of the trailheads found right off Richfield’s streets, or at a trailhead in the nearby towns of Elsinore, Annabella, Salina, Marysvale, Circleville, Junction, Koosharem, Antimony, Angel, Monroe, Joseph, Aurora, Fillmore, and Kanosh, as well as the Fremont Indian State Park. All of these towns are ATV-friendly, with places to rent and/or get maps and information. They even have special ordinances to allow OHVs to drive on the roads.

Paiute ATV TrailCredit: BLM via Flickr CC

 
Once you get on a trail, it won’t take long to find yourself in the solitude of a remote wilderness. Even though the Paiute ATV trails are very popular, there are so many possibilities over such a large area, that even if there are hundreds of people riding on any given day, you could go hours without seeing another person. One of the best parts of riding this big loop is the eye candy: the varied scenery ranges from dense forests to sweeping mountain vistas. The trail tours through three mountain ranges (the Pavant Range, the Sevier Plateau, and the Tushar Mountains), and for many people the 11,500-foot ridge in the Tushar Mountains is the highlight of the trip. Besides the amazing landscape views (you’ll want to take photos), be on the lookout for wildlife, like herds of deer and elk, traveling through the area.

 
Driving nonstop, the loop takes about 25 hours; however, most people spread the driving out over three or four days, if not more. Rather than a race to the end, the routes are meant to be traveled at a pace that will allow you to actually take in your surroundings. There are lots of nice campgrounds located along the trails, or some people choose to book motel rooms in the various towns.

Preparations and Coordinates

Before heading out, make sure you are adequately prepared. The Paiute Trail system travels through very remote areas, so bring everything you may need, including enough fuel to get your machine from one gas station to the next. There can be a huge temperature difference throughout the day and into the night, and the change in elevation from 5,000 to 11,500 feet can make things cooler, so be sure to pack the appropriate attire. Last but not least, while ATVs can be a lot of fun, they also have a reputation for their ability to wreak havoc on a landscape. Please stay on the designated trails, drive at an appropriate speed, and practice leave no trace ethics. Helmets and other safety gear are recommended.

Because the Paiute trail is a loop, there is no real beginning or end point, so just pick one of the above mentioned towns and go ride the section of your choice. Several local outfitters also offer ATV and gear rentals if you don’t have your own. The trail is usually completely open and clear of snow by mid-July, and September and October are the best months to get on it. After October, snow may close some of the higher elevation sections. Start planning a trip to one of the top ATV riding destinations in America — we promise you’ll come back with plenty of stories to tell.
 
GPS Coordinates (for Richfield): 38.772420, -112.086665

More Information

For more information please visit ATVUtah for more trails, ATV resources and upcoming ATV/UTV jamborees and events.

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*Flickr Creative Commons License Bureau of Land Management user mypubliclands