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Mineral Fork Road, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
 

Background:
Due to unrepaired road conditions existing in 1997, the Mineral Fork Road was closed to any full-size OHV's (Jeeps, Trucks, etc). The Mineral Fork Road is a historic road dating to the late 1800's, used primarily for mining in its early days and recreation in later years. 

Facts: (courtesy of Chris "EZRhino" Perri, Chris is highly-educated in the Big Cottonwood Area and has researched/recreated the affected areas)

Mineral Fork: up until 1983, had a road very much passable by four
wheel drives.  In fact there was a pair of old wooden bridges in one spot to
help 10 wheeled dump trucks negotiate the tight, steep switchbacks to access
the Wasatch Tunnel and Regulator mines at the top of the canyon.  The
current road was built in 1936, but was actually the third generation road
(the second generation road was built prior to 1899).  The bottom of the
present road was badly washed out in '83, taking the banks of earth and the
wood bridges along with it.  Apparently the Forest Service never bothered
repairing it (big surprise).  Due to the washout and lack of maintenance,
the canyon is open today to ATV's only.  I find it wholly ludicrous that the
greatest numbers of registered ATV's in the state is found in Salt Lake
County, yet Mineral Fork is the ONLY legal trail in the ENTIRE COUNTY where
one can drive an ATV.  I find this both astonishing and disheartening at the
same time.  How can the county expect users to "follow the rules" and "stay
off the foothills", etc., when they only provide 2.1 miles of legal trails
to ride on??
 
 

Questions we asked the Forest Service:

What will it take to regain access to this area for full-size vehicles?

Why did the USFS not repair the road?

What long-term plans does the USFS have for motorized recreation?

What percentage of Mineral Fork trail users do you assume are non-motorized?
 

Answers Given by USFS:

 "This area receives a significant amount of non-motorized use
year-round.  We receive a large number of comments/complaints regarding
current motorized use and requests for closure to motorized use..."

 "Based primarily on safety concerns for all users, I do not see us looking
to open this area to full size OHVs.  I believe this would increase use
significantly and increase potential for safety issues, user conflict"

(All response via email from Steve Scheid, Environmental Coordination,Winter
Sports, Trails, & Wilderness Management, USFS SL Ranger District)

Links:
Rocky Mountain Extreme

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