I had a pretty ambitious route planned out for riding four-wheelers yesterday in the northeastern San Rafael Swell, but we didn’t even get through half of it. We parked at the staging area about four miles south-southwest of Woodside, and the plan was to cross over the Woodside Anticline, then cross the outer flank of the Swell (the same formation that, farther south, is much steeper and is called the San Rafael Reef) four times through different washes (Middle Fork of Summerville Wash, then the main Summerville Wash, Neversweat Wash, and finally Camel Wash).
Traci and I had stayed up way too late the night before, and we slept in the next morning and got to the staging area two hours later than we’d planned. We crossed over the Woodside Anticline easily, and riding down the western slope was a lot of fun. I’d done that trail before so I knew what to expect and we didn’t have any problems. Here’s some video that we shot on that section of trail:
Next came the Middle Fork of Summerville Wash, and we ran into a few minor problems. There are a lot of motorcycle trails in the area, though some of them are shared with ATVs. Twice we started up forks in the trail that were wide enough for our machines but shortly afterward they narrowed up or got too steep. We backtracked and found other trails that got us where we wanted to go. After making it through the difficult sections of the wash, we found a shady spot and ate lunch. It was pretty hot by then, and we were grateful for what little shade there was.
After lunch, we rode some pretty flat terrain a bit farther west, then turned north and rounded Entrada Point. I’ve heard this section of trail referred to as the Whoop-Dee-Doo Trail, and it’s very aptly named. There are a lot of consecutive short up-and-down hills in the trail and it can get quite obnoxious at times, but the trail had its redeeming qualities as well. We stopped at the stone building at the north end of the trail where it meets up with the main fork of Summerville Wash. Here’s more video from that trail:
From that stone building, we rode farther east down Summerville Wash to another stone building a mile away. I found this building the last time I rode in the area, and this time I placed a geocache nearby. From there, the plan was to follow Summerville Wash until we hit Neversweat Wash, and then follow it west through the uplift once more. However, shortly after leaving the stone building, I started hearing noises coming from my ATV. I stopped several times to try to pinpoint the source of the noise, but I couldn’t definitively tell where it was coming from. I was pretty sure it was the rear driveshaft binding up and making a popping or tapping noise. I didn’t want to risk breaking down in the middle of nowhere, so we decided to cut our trip short and take the easiest route back to the truck. Luckily most of that route was a graded road and we were able to stay in fourth of fifth gear most of the way, which not only made for a quick trip back, but also made the heat more bearable. I was worried that the faster speeds would cause the driveshaft to fail, but it was actually quieter the faster I went.
I’ve still got plenty of reasons to go back to that place. There are trails through two washes that I didn’t get to see, plus we had to skip out on seeing some abandoned mines closer to Chimney Rock that I just found out about on Friday. The area is filled with interesting scenery and history, though with the heat of summer getting worse and my ATV in need of repairs, I’m not sure I’ll get back there until this fall.