For the first day of the long Independence Day weekend my family and I explored Gentry Mountain on our ATVs. I’d been up there twice before, but each time it was just a brief stay. On my first visit there, I drove the truck to the radio towers at Star Point to find a geocache, so I was just barely on top of Gentry Mountain before heading home after finding the cache. The second time, Mark and I rode ATVs for only a few miles on Gentry Mountain before parking them and hiking down into Tie Fork Canyon. Our destination was elsewhere, and we didn’t take any time to explore and enjoy the mountain.
I had Saturday’s route planned out in advance, but I was overly-optimistic and we only covered about half of what I expected to. We parked the truck above the old townsite of Wattis, then rode the ATVs along the shelf road above the reclaimed Plateau Mine area and up the extremely steep switchbacks to Star Point. We went south at the intersection at the south end of Hoag Ridge, after which point most of the road runs across private property. Somewhere in the vicinity of Fiddler’s Green we saw a moose, which was a first for all of us. When we got to the intersection of the road coming up from Mohrland (which is the only other road with access to Gentry Mountain), we turned west and once again entered national forest land. My plan from there was to work our way south and park at Wild Horse Point, then hike Wild Horse Ridge to its south end and place a geocache there. The end of Wild Horse Ridge sits 2,600′ above Huntington Canyon, so there should be a great view from there. Unfortunately we ran into a gate with a “No Trespassing” sign on it. I consulted the map on my GPS and it showed that the road crossed private property for only two-tenths of a mile before returning to national forest land, so we went through the gate and continued to our destination. Once at Wild Horse Point, we pondered what we should do. I didn’t want to place a geocache on the ridge, even though it was on public lands, if seekers would have to disregard the sign like we’d done. Traci also didn’t really want to do the hike once she saw how steep parts of it were, so we ultimately decided not to do the hike or place a geocache.
We rode back the way we’d come until we reached the intersection with the McCadden Hollow road, then we followed that road across the upper end of McCadden Hollow and out onto the unnamed ridge between Trail Canyon and Tie Fork Canyon. From there we had a pretty good view down into Huntington Canyon, but probably not nearly as nice as the one we might have had from Wild Horse Ridge. We ran into a large group of people on horseback there, but luckily they were off the road and we didn’t have any issues with trying to pass them. I placed a geocache at the end of the road on the ridge, then we reversed course and headed back to McCadden Hollow where we ate lunch. While we were eating, some cattle started wandering toward us, and what started out as a few cows turned into a moderately large herd that was being herded by a couple of horsemen. We enjoyed our lunch in the midst of a cattle drive, and I was pretty amused by it all.
After lunch we rode back to the north and this time took the west fork at the Hoag Ridge intersection. We passed several forks in the road as we worked our way toward Gentry Ridge. There was a fallen aspen tree across the road at one point, and I tried but failed to pull it off the road using my ATV because there was still one large unbroken root in the ground. The road slowly descended Gentry Ridge, and eventually it turned into an ATV-only trail for the last mile or so. Near the end of the road the forest had been burned in a wildfire, and although barren, it was beautiful in its own way. The trail ended at what appeared at first to be a concrete fire ring, but upon looking more closely I realized that it was a sewer manhole that had been filled in almost completely with rocks. I would imagine that somebody tried to develop a spring there, since there was a pipe coming out of the hillside near the manhole. I placed another geocache there, then we turned around and headed back for the truck. On the way we came to another tree that had fallen across the trail. We had driven around it on our way down the ridge, but on the return trip I stopped to try pulling it off the trail, and I was able to easily drag it away.
Once at the truck we loaded and secured the ATVs, but I didn’t want the adventure to be over. We hiked east from the truck for a quarter of a mile to where the ridge ended at a point with cliffs dropping off below. I’d seen this point from the mountain above during the ride back to the truck, and it just looked like an interesting spot. I placed a third geocache there, then we walked back to the truck and drove home.
I really enjoy the Gentry Mountain area because it’s only a 20-mile drive from home to where I can unload ATVs and start riding. The elevation runs between 9,500′ and 10,000′, so it’s relatively cool in the summer. It’s the closest national forest land to where I live, but for some reason I haven’t spent much time in the area. I expect that will change after this trip, ’cause I had a lot of fun and I’m hoping to go back soon.
GPS Tracklog and Photo Locations (Google Earth .KMZ format)