Utah's Fishlake National Forest

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of April 11-18, 1996
Biking and hiking in Nevada
Utah's Fishlake National Forest
Camping in the Hawaiian Islands
Exploring Canada's remote Ellesmere Island
Low-budget snorkeling in the Florida Keys
A family vacation in Jamaica

Utah's Fishlake National Forest
Question: What are some great places in Utah to go mountain biking and rock climbing?

Zeke Post
Logan, UT
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: Lube your chain, fill your tires, pack a couple of extra tubes just in case, and make tracks to Fishlake National Forest, a remote 2-million-acre swath of dense pine, piñon, and juniper forest in central Utah. With more than 20 mountain bike routes already mapped out, this backcountry oasis has Moab fat-tire potential written all over it, with one major exception: no crowds, at least not yet.

Set up base camp at Fish Lake, off Utah 25 southeast of Richfield. Then take your pick of hundreds of miles of singletrack trails and gravel and dirt roads. From the rustic Fish Lake Lodge, start out on the 26-mile Fish Lake Loop, pedaling north on Utah 25 up 1,000 feet to a ridge overlooking the sandstone gorges of Capitol Reef National Park; then make a screaming descent back to the lodge. For another half-day ride, tackle the 18-mile Hancock Flat Loop (sadly, it's anything but flat), which climbs a rough gravel road from the Lakeside Resort into alpine meadows and descends via an unforgiving singletrack or kinder jeep road. Or follow the 27-mile Windy Ridge-Cathedral Valley Loop, a daylong ride for advanced knobby-tire freaks that starts 25 miles southeast of Fish Lake and passes by hundred-foot-tall sandstone pinnacles in the national park.

To get there, head south out of Salt Lake City on I-15 and Utah 28/U.S. 89 toward Richfield, then Utah 24 southeast to Utah 25, which will bring you to Fish Lake Lodge. Finding the Windy Ridge trailhead at Heart Lake means taking Utah 24 southeast to Utah 72 north, where you'll pick up Forest Road 206 to the lake. Trail maps are available at Fish Lake Lodge and Forest Service tent sites ($6) are only a stone's throw from the lodge; call 800-283-2267.

For more details on biking all over Utah, call the Panora Tourism Council at 800-748-4361, and be sure to consult "Esprit de Knobby" in the Destinations section of our April 1993 issue.

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