November 24, 2020

Wood Hill trail system offers quiet retreat

Seated above the city of Price, the Wood Hill trail system offers a quiet retreat from life’s demands. The views from the trails are breathtaking. Between the Bookcliff Mountains to the north and the Manti-La Sal Mountains to the southeast, there is not a direction on the horizon that doesn’t offer a glimpse of Southeast Utah’s beauty. 

Thirty miles of trails meander through sagebrush, cut up and down through challenging hills and tightly hug the rim of the hill. Each trail offers unique scenery and challenges. Those who ride or hike on the trails leave feeling recharged.

Before the official project began, the trails on Wood Hill were made by individuals who frequently explored the area. Land on the hill is owned by the Bureau of Land Management, Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration and private owners. In the early 2000s, the BLM conducted a controlled burn on the vegetation and the fire destroyed the user-made trails. Many who loved the trails, organized into the Carbon County Trails Committee, sought official trail recognition and maintenance.

There were many obstacles to overcome before the trails could be recognized. Both the BLM and SITLA approved of the recreational use, but several trailheads were on privately owned land.

After five years of trying to get the land owners to approve of easements for building trailheads, the Carbon County Trails Committee decided to take a new course of action. Plans were created to build the trailhead on SITLA land. A new trail would have to be carved out to connect the main trailhead to the trails that passed through private land. The trails committee worked with a representative for SITLA to write a grant proposal.

The grant was approved and construction on the trailhead began. The county provided much of the construction and the grant money was used for equipment and installing a bathroom.

Price City Council member Terry Willis and Fuzzy Nance built the Solis Trail to connect the trailhead to Bill’s and Luke’s trails. 

In addition to clearing trails, trash and debris had to be removed from the area. In 2017, United Way’s Day of Caring took place on Wood Hill. Volunteers picked up trash by the truckload. While people continue to illegally dump trash, the area remains mostly clean and well maintained.  

The trails are maintained by users who pick up trash and repair damage. Occasionally users modify the trails by adding jumps or shortcuts, but in general, the trails are respected.

The trailhead has been in place for four years and the Wood Hill trail system continues to thrive. An aesthetically pleasing story map website was created by Holly Way in spring 2020. The website features information about the area, directions, maps, trail descriptions, safety information and stunning photography. The website can be visited at arcg.is/1ObLHu.

Willis loves that there are so many trails and trail combinations to create. She never tires of her daily adventure. She says 90% of the people she runs into riding or hiking on the trails are from out of town. 

Conveniently located between Moab and San Rafael Swell (Emery County), many tourists make time to visit the Wood Hill trails.  Even though the Wood Hill trails attract many visitors, they still offer a stillness unmatched by more popular destinations.

She wants users of the trails to be safe. “Don’t ride alone. Go with a partner or at least let someone know you’re out, what trails you’ll be on and what time to expect you home.” The trails are marked and rated with skill levels. 

“Always respect your skills and keep your speed safe. These trails are not built for racing.” If a rider comes upon an obstacle they are unsure about, Willis urges riders to either hit the obstacle with confidence or get off and walk. “Commit or quit. Second guessing is where you get into trouble.”

If riders are unsure of their skills, they can practice at the Pump and Jump Park in Price.

Even though the weather is cooling down, the views remain spectacular. Wildlife is abundant and easy to see in the winter. Visitors may see deer, coyotes, rabbits, fox, bobcats and a wide variety of winter birds.

Willis loves this area and considers these trails to be one of her passions. “These are fun trails. All we ask is that people keep them single–don’t cut them wider or modify them.”

If USUE students wish to visit the Wood Hill trail system, current students can check out bikes for free from the USU Eastern Blue Bikes. The shop is located under the Police Building just north of the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center on campus.  

Print Friendly, PDF & Email