Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive
July 13th-15th, 2007
Text by Kurt Williams - Photos by Kurt & Candace Williams & Troy Demill
(Last Updated: 10/16/07)

Troy and I had been talking about escaping the valleys summer heat wave and getting up into the higher elevations, preferable along Skyline Drive. An earlier Skyline trip had been cancelled due to snow, so I just had to make this one happen. Unfortunately the only weekend we could all nail down was the same weekend as the Wasatch Cruiser clubs monthly run. So many places to see, so little time to see it.

Day 1 - Friday 7/13

I heavily debated which rig to take for the weekend. The Tacoma still isn’t up to par, but it would likely be fine for the planned trip. After much internal debate, I decided to go with the trusty Land Cruiser. I had performed a lot of maintenance and upgrades to it over the spring, and a long road trip with the top off is what we both needed. With the Trail Trailer in tow and my brother in law Thomas and sister in law Monique in Toms 80 Series, Candace and I motored from Sandy to Heber City via Provo Canyon. There we met Troy and his daughter Hannah in their 4Runner and Richard Dyatt in his FJ40. A couple last minute items in the gas station and we were back on the road, moving easy along Highway 40 out of town. Troy was in the lead as we turned off the highway just past the Daniels Pass summit, heading south along the Main Canyon Road. The trail climbs up to the ridge, and continues heading south. The lower canyon was absolutely crammed with what looked like an archery convention, though the crowds thinned as we moved further along the trail. The road continued south towards Strawberry Reservoir with a bad enough rocky section that we stopped to air down the tires. Near the top of the canyon we arrived at a narrower road that continued along the ridge, rather than dropping down towards the lake. We moseyed along the lesser road, in search of a spot to settle for the night. We eventually found a camp spot with great scenery sitting at 9000 feet, with views of the Great Western Trail. The site sat overlooking Hobble Creek to the west and the Strawberry Reservoir over the hill to the east.

Day 2 - Saturday 7/14

Saturday Morning came all too early, the wind had blown all night long waking both Candace and I up as it shook the trailer. Tom and Monique had a similar experience perched above Tom’s 80 Series in their roof-top-tent. My Land Cruiser had been running a bit rough the day before, a seldom reoccurring problem that only takes place when pulling a heavy load, such as the trailer up steep inclines on the highway. It acted as if it is were starving for fuel, only when the secondaries were open, and only when I was really working the motor. I popped the top of the carburetor off, and found everything in clean working order, except a crack in the accelerator pump that was making the Cruiser loose a bit of get up and go. I didn't have a spare with me, so it was a moot point. Richard helped me reassemble the carburetor, and I decided I would soldier it on, who needs an accelerator pump? With the rigs all loaded up, we continued along the ridge trail, at times crossing cattle guards designed for ATV's, we didn't think too much of it as they all had full-size gates accompanying them. We passed several gents on ATV's, one of whom mentioned to Troy that the trail was an ATV only designation. It made a bit of sense given the narrow road and overgrown foliage, but the actual trail was at one time a full-size route. According to two maps we had, the trail was just a regular forest road, no special designations. Sure enough, as we intersected the main road towards Sheep Creek, looking back in our rearview mirror you could see an ATV trail sign… Our bad! It is very likely that the road was classified as an ATV route after years of seldom 4x4 usages. . Another reason to get out and explore the less explored. I marked the route in my GPS and plan to contact the local Forest Service district in regards to the trail, it is possible the route is/was improperly marked

We continued through a road construction area, I'm not sure what’s in store for the dirt road, it seriously looks like they are making way for a 4 lane highway all the way from Spanish Fork Canyon to Strawberry Reservoir? The contractors had patched up the road and moved all the equipment out of the way for the weekend, so we lost very little time there. We tried to take a minor detour from the main road, hoping to come in the back way to Sheep Creek. As we dropped into Tie Canyon it became very apparent that it just wasn’t happening, the trail became choked with overgrown trees. The decision was finally made to turn around and head back towards the main road. The Sheep Creek gas station was busier than normal, there were large "circus" looking tents set up behind the gas station, and the campgrounds were beyond capacity, with more camped in the "overflow" area. Turns out a biker party was going down that night, live bands and all. We thought it prudent to hurry about our way after fueling up. Just as we thought we were ready to hit the road, Richard pointed out that Tom had a flat tire. It wasn’t until Tom rolled the rig forward to expose the hole that we realized how bad it was. Tom had picked up a log spike, ~10" long... knowing he didn't have a full-size spare, we gave a go at patching the tire. Tom's parts store patch kit came equipped with plugs suited for a bicycle tire, so out comes the big guns, the ARB plug kit. The hole was big, big enough to stick a pinky finger into the tire. This was a two plug operation. I rigged up the installer, and Tom let it rip, covering it in rubber cement just to be sure they stayed in place. Tom was not willing to pay the 75 cents for air, so instead I charged 50 cents for using my Cruisers compressor. Sure enough it lasted all the way home. I predict it will be on there for at least a year or two.

At last we were back on the way, a few miles on the pavement and we pulled off at Tucker to start the Skyline Drive Trail. We passed countless ATV’s and campers along the climbed away on the trail. The crowds thinned out as we neared the ridge, but still, just about every major turnoff had a group of campers, sometimes 10 or more rigs. We made quick work of the Skyline Drive north section, before long we were hitting the Fairview Canyon pavement, a short jog that would take us to the Skyline Drive south trailhead.

As we turned back off the pavement at the northern trailhead of the Skyline Drive south section, we were confronted with giant "Road Closed, no trespassing" signs. Unlike the signs we encountered earlier, these ones were blocking the road completely, and there were others gathered at the turnoff contemplating their next move. We thought it prudent to head down the canyon, and rejoin the Skyline Drive trail further south. We dropped into a rain storm as we descended the canyon towards Fairview. The rain poured as we continued south along Highway 89 to Mt. Pleasant where we enjoyed some great burgers and shakes at a roadside diner. As we sat around for our leisurely lunch we pondered the maps, deciding where to make our connection with the Skyline Drive trail.

We rejoined Skyline Drive via Spring City and Spring City Canyon, a slight detour that would take us along new scenery, an always welcome scenario. We made a couple stops along the way to check out the horseshoe overlooks and Skyline's highest point. We had planned to camp near Blue Lake, a small natural lake just off the eastern slope of the ridge. Sure enough it was a great suggestion by Troy. As we arrived at the lake there were a handful of folks fishing, we must have scared them off as within an hour we had the place to ourselves. Fitting as some in our group thought it prudent to take their shirts off and swim, I won’t disclose who. I passed on the cold lake, and went for a hot shower instead. I offered a warm rinse to the others, all of which took me up on the offer. It didn’t take long to run out of the original 5 gallons of water I had brought along, a trip to the lake addressed that issue. We settled in for the night, enjoyed conversation and storytelling around the camp stove (fires were banned during the trip).

Day 3 - Sunday 7/15

Our morning voyage would take us down to Manti via Twelve-mile and Six-mile Canyons. Richard commented that he thought we were moving a bit fast coming out of the canyon, I would have been saying the same thing if I was the last one out, just kidding Dick! In Manti we watered the dogs in the yard at Troy's “vacation” home, where we were also treated to a grand tour of his family’s turn of the century home. Troy and Hannah planned to travel straight home, the rest of us gassed up in town and had a relaxed lunch at the Manti City Park. After a leisurely lunch and a quick nap it was back to the highway. Richard wanted to spend a bit more time exploring in the area, Ephraim Canyon in particular, so he stayed behind and bid up farewell at the park. Tom and I aired up the tires at a gas station on the road out of town and didn’t stop from there until we hit Sandy.

The mileage tally for the trip was 188 miles in the dirt, ~400 total miles.


Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

Strawberry Ridge & Skyline Drive

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