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The paved Candy Mountain Express Bike Trail follows part of the route of the former Marysvale Line of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, which was decommissioned in 1976. The trail affords splendid canyon scenery, with colorful rock formations and views of the Sevier River. You will see old mining and railroad sights along the way, and maybe even some deer or wild turkeys.
From Sevier Junction south, the trail crosses Clear Creek and the Sevier River, entering the canyon. Here it passes by the 200-foot-long Eagle Rock tunnel, built in 1896. Historical markers tell of the railroad's history. South of the tunnel, the trail winds along the river through the canyon and ends near where you can cross the river to Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort. Here you'll find lodging, refreshments and restrooms.
North and east of the Sevier Junction trailhead, the Rock Candy Mountain Bike Trail passes through farm country and parallels the east side of SR 258 (Sevier Hwy) to Joseph. Here the trail crosses to the west side and continues to Elsinore. This section has short, steep grades and almost no shade but you can buy food and drink in Joseph and Elsinore.
Parking is available at Sevier Junction (0.7 mile south off Exit 23 from I-70) and in Joseph and Elsinore. Trail users who are not guests of the Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort ask before using their parking facilities.
We parked at the trailhead in Sevier, right off the interstate. There was a restroom building and ample parking at what turned out to be the high spot on the trail. No worries; we rode North on a continuous downhill, alongside a quiet highway and passing through another small town before reaching Elsinore, where the separate trail abruptly ends. The gas station there had a big signboard with "Trail Information," but it turned out to be about ATV trails so I quickly moved on. From this point the trail becomes a marked lane on the side of the road, and I returned to the parking lot. This was all uphill, but only the last half mile or less was noticeably steep.
Next we rode south to the end of the trail. Again this starts with a steep downhill which ends in a half mile or so and becomes a gentle grade the rest of the way, bypassing the historic tunnel (closed) and winding through some beautiful scenery in the canyon to its end at one junction to a group of cabins and a "no trespassing" sign, and on to an unbelievably steep trail to a footbridge, more cabins and the highway but no warning sign. Rather than walk our bikes down and back up that hill we skipped the exploration and turned around. Again, only the last hill required a big effort to climb. Total round trip distance was 32 miles.
A beautiful day, a beautiful trail with an excellent surface and just a few fallen rocks to dodge, just the right length and not another soul on the trail made this a fantastic ride.
We enjoyed this ride in late October 2015. The temperature was a bit chilly so we waited until about 11:00 to begin our ride. We parked at the well-marked area just off of interstate 70 (near Clear Creek Canyon Road) and rode South to the end and back for about 12 miles round trip. (The surface was smooth and well-maintained.) The scenery was awesome! This portion of trail goes along the very green, swift-running Sevier River and through a canyon where the rocks were pinkish and purple...(thus the name ....maybe?) We stopped several times and just enjoyed the scenery. There were nice benches randomly placed. There is also a train tunnel with historic info about the former railroad. For a longer ride, the trail extends towards Elsinore and seemed to go thru farm country and small town living however, we were limited w time and pushing our luck with the weather so we rode what we thought would be the most scenic. It was well worth it!
Note: This time of year there was nothing open at the south end of the trail and no sign of life. We would have loved a HOT cup of coffee but were happy to get to ride this late in the season.
2nd time on the trail. Started in Elsinore ended at Big Rock Candy Mtn. 35 miles round trip, approx 500 ft elevation rise. Trail is wide, well marked, and maintained. No puncture vine down here! Recommend getting off the trail 1/2 mile before the end (at the railroad cars) to get onto Highway 89. The normal end of the trail is treacherous getting to 89. Spectacular country & canyon views. Two nice places at Big Rock Candy Mtn for lunch & a highway rest area (we opted for Hoovers).
I highly recommend riding from the north (start at the gas station) to the south (Candy Mountain) as that means you start riding uphill. There can be some pretty good wind that makes it challenging, so be aware of that. The canyon is very beautiful and the trail is in great shape.
This is an interesting part of Utah. The Sevier River is the longest river in the state that stays in the state. It waters a series of farming/ranching communities the length of the valley. This is McDonaldLess Land. You will not see much in the standard fast food stores until you reach Kanab on the Arizona Line. TrailBear cares because wifi at McDonalds is how he communicates on the road.
THE SEVIER RIVER VALLEY…
Into geology? Google on the Sevier Overthrust Belt and check out the local volcanoes – which give the Big Rock Candy Mountain that color. Check out the Henry mining district in the mountains west of the trail. Thar’s something in them thar hills. Say “The Sevier Orogeny”. Sounds like a Robert Ludlum novel. Think – thrust sheets fifty miles wide and 10,000’ thick. That’s some earth moving.
The BRCM trail comes in two parts offering two different ride options. The hinge is the trailhead at Sevier Junction, just north of the tiny hamlet of Sevier, Utah. There is a freeway offramp on I-70 that takes you right to the trailhead. Exit the freeway and head to the…
SEVIER JUNCTION TRAILHEAD, GE: 38.588552 -112.258208
Sevier Junction is a good spot to stage your ride. Here you have a gravel parking lot, a double vault toilet (only one on the trail – hint) and an information kiosk. Here you have choices:
You can ride NE along the Sevier Highway about nine miles to the hamlet of Elsinore. The pavement is good blacktop. The scenery is wide open vistas of mountains, fields, farming and ranching life in the Sevier Valley and no shade to speak of.
You can head south down into the Sevier Canyon and ride along the Sevier River amid unfolding scenes of the river, the canyon and the rather interesting geology. This ride ends at the trail end at the Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort about seven miles along. There are no trail facilities here, but the resort has gas, restrooms, restaurant, store and other services.
You can guess which option TrailBear elected. Hot day. Possible shade. Scenery. Canyon it is. Another reason to start a canyon ride here instead of the south end is that from here you are ascending the trail. TrailBear always tries to do his climbing in the early morning cool and his downhill later in the heat of the day when he is somewhat fatigued. Nothing like bonking and having miles of uphill to do. Fall has not yet arrived and the temps are about 10-15 degrees above average for this time of year.
In this case there was a canyon breeze that built around 1100 hrs. It was a head wind climbing toward the resort, but a tail wind coming back. If you are early on the trail, you may well find no breeze until late morning.
THE EAGLE ROCK TUNNEL, GE: N38.56886 W112.26519
Here is a little 200’ tunnel. No light required. The tunnel is closed to traffic and the trail diverts around the ridge. There is a gravel access parking strip on the highway with quick access to the tunnel. This is pretty much it for attractions on the trail – unless you count the culverts. They offer an old timber culvert under the trail, then a concrete one with head wall, etc.
FIRST CUT, GE: N38.56124 W112.27233
The rock in this cut is rather unstable. Notice all the debris on the trail. Some type of igneous or morphed igneous rock from the look. Notice all the rocks in the matrix. Volcano belching? Pyroclastic flow? Over at the campground there are cliffs made of ash fall.
THE SOUTH END OF THE TRAIL, GE: N38.51598 W112.26450
A few more bends of the canyon and it widens. Ahead is the Big Rock Candy Mountain – a point of igneous interest. From Utah Geology…
“Approximately 21 million years ago, at least six magma bodies intruded the overlying Bullion Canyon Volcanics. Through a complex chemical process involving hydrogen sulfide, steam, ground water, and oxygen, the original volcanic rock was partially altered or totally replaced. The vivid colors that one sees at Big Rock Candy Mountain are the direct result of this mineralization.
The yellow, orange, and red colors are from the presence of iron minerals, such as jarosite, hematite, and pyrite. The white color is due to the presence of alunite and kaolinite, minerals rich in potassium.”
There you have it. The reason why.
Also ahead is the Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort. Here there be Services and such. That collection of cabooses and cars across the rivers is one of their projects. These are to be turned into cabins. Interesting idea. The sewer connections are laid in. Stay tuned.
Here is the end of the trail. The paving stops and turns into an ATV trail. There are hundreds of miles of ATV trails in these mountains. This is where the tourist dollars are, not the occasional bikie like TB to ride down the canyon.
You can take the AVT bridge across the river to the highway and the resort, to food, ice cream, perhaps even cold beer or you can about face and pedal down the canyon for a change. Decisions, decisions.
CAMPING, SERVICES AND SUCH…
For camping near the trail, try Castle Rock Campground. It is a charming campground associated with the Fremont Indian State Park – but not in the park. It is off the beaten track, tucked up a draw with rather interesting volcanic cliffs on either side. GE: 38.552633 -112.355969.
You want the west entrance to Fremont Indian – or you drive though the entire park, looking for the campground – which is not in the park or on the same side of the freeway. (Don’t ask.)
Richfield is where you can buy things. It is about half way between LA and Denver on I-70. Still, it is in the McDonald-Less Zone. Much of the Sevier Valley is in that zone. No Carl’s. No Jack. No Mac. No Panda Express. There is said to be a wifi hotspot at the Quality Inn on South Main.
Heading back down the trail at a high rate of speed. Now this is fun.
Wish I had known about this trail when last I headed down I-70 to St. George. Looks interesting. This is Just Up the Road A Piece from Bryce and the bike trails at Red Canyon. If I get out to Utah Trikes to buy a new trike, I need to stop in for a ride.
This from blip from the Deseret News...
"MARYSVALE, Piute County — The legendary Big Rock Candy Mountain will soon have more to offer than rocks that look like nougat with caramel ribbons running through them and a quaint rock shop.
The plans for the future include creating a railroad resort with boxcars and cabooses for guest stays, a new multipurpose trailhead, a new raft launch and guest amenities featuring the famed Lemonade Springs and ponderosa trees.
Named in the 1920s by the locals after the mythical mountains in the rollicking ballad by Harry McClintock, the scenic area north of Marysvale on U.S. highway 89 has long laid somewhat dormant despite its beauty and sunshine.
Local agency employees have been cooperatively seeking funds and direction from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program to put the area more conveniently on the map for cyclists, hikers, river rafters and tourists. They now have money for the Candy Mountain Whistle Stop Trailhead development, a multipurpose trailhead in the narrow canyon bottom between the Sevier River and the highway.
The plan includes new parking lots, a raft launch ramp, a picnic area with shade trees, public restrooms and informational kiosks, paid for with grants from the Sevier County Office of Travel and Tourism, the Utah State Parks Association and the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area/Scenic Canyon Preservation Society.
The Big Rock Candy Mountain project won out over other proposals for funding because it will provide access to the Sevier River, said officials.
Marcy DeMillion, River Trails and Conservation Assistance community planner for Utah, said this is an opportunity to establish starting points for multiple methods of travel and recreation.
The RTCA coordinated efforts and refined ideas from everyone involved into the master plan for the trailhead, which she said is the only trailhead along the Sevier River that will provide access for OHV users, bikers, hikers and boaters.
Monte Bona, Director of the Heritage Highway 89 Alliance, said the project fits with the area's interpretive mission by playing into one of the key themes; the interaction of people with the landscape."
Developers and brothers David and Steven Grow are working to create a Track 89 Resort Village to complement the new trailhead. They donated the two acres for the Whistle Stop Trailhead and plan to upgrade and position a number of converted boxcars and luxury caboose cars that will available for overnight and daily rental by June 2012.
"The boxcars will be turned into duplex high-style rooms," Grow said. "The cabooses will be single occupancy, with one queen-sized bed."
The Big Rock Candy Mountain area goes way back with railroads, as the Rio Grande Railroad company bought the east side river route in 1908, a line vital to the economic development of the central Utah valleys.
The line was decommissioned in 1976 and acquired by Sevier County. County officials turned it into the 14-mile Candy Mountain Express hiking/biking trail.
The Grows also paid for the construction of an arched timber bridge near the resort site. A bridge also extends across the Sevier River to the Paiute ATV Trail and Candy Mountain Express bike/hike trail.
Visitors at the boxcar motel will be within walking or riding distance of the Candy Mountain Express Trail and the local rafting business. OHV recreationists will be able to park their hauling vehicles for their stay and ride over to the trailhead to catch the 900-plus miles of the Paiute Trail system, which winds over three mountain ranges and connects to a dozen towns in central Utah.
Grow is enthusiastic about the future of the resort and trailhead for a lot of the same reasons as DeMillion.
"It's a nexus of travel opportunities," he says. "A scenic highway, an endless ATV trail, a bike and hiking path and the best raft launch site in the area. It's got a lot of potential."
Quite a future for a mountain made of rocks that aren't candy at all, but actually an inedible hydrothermically altered volcanic carbonate.
A summary draft plan for the MPNHA can be viewed at sanpete.com.
Sharon Haddock is a professional freelance writer with 30 years experience, 17 of those at The Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com. Email: email@example.com"
Discovered this trail on trip to Park City. Some of the best scenery on any 6 miles of trail I have found. Grainy asphalt surface in fine condition. Well worth a stop to ride. Did not have time to pedal the 9.2 miles of non-rail trail north from the Trailhead. It appears to be new asphalt. Noel Keller 7 May 2011 Submitted this trail to traillink May 2011
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