||Flume Trail (Ephraim Canyon)
The Flume Trail in lower Ephraim Canyon follows an abandoned
water-transport path around the foothills of Bald Mountain, then plunges
steeply to the valley floor. It's 2.7 miles in length. After a fairly flat
mile and a half, it plunges 700 vertical feet over one mile. It should be
consider a downhill-only route.
Looking back at a section where the
trail consists of dirt filling an old half-shell metal flume. Photos and
trail track from a ride August 17, 2011 by Bruce.
|The steepness of the drop from the mountain requires
advanced or at least solid upper-intermediate technical skill. Most of the
trail is smooth with a few short tech challenges. The trail can be
shuttled via the Ephraim Canyon road, or you can pedal up the road for a
5.0 mile loop ride.
Pedaling up the Ephraim Canyon Road.
It turns to gravel about 1/2 mile uphill.
The riding season for this trail is May through October.
Earlier riding is possible with appropriate weather. Top altitude is 6700
feet, base 5900. Of the 800 feet of total elevation change, 700 feet of it
comes within a single mile of the total 2.7 downhill.
is the beginning of the trail, as seen from uphill on the Ephraim Canyon
Road. We're looking west, down-canyon.
|The first time I went looking for this trail, I couldn't
find it. I had to go back a couple of years later with somebody else's GPS
track. So if you're riding without a track display, pay attention. As of
2011, there were no signs at the trailhead, and it's easy to lose the
trail within the first 1/3 mile. The photo shows the spot where I got lost
and never found the trail in 2009.
Critical spot!!! Even with a GPS
track, I went both Wrong Ways -- the doubletracks shown by the
"DT" designation -- before I saw the little singletrack heading
southwest. As the doubletrack forks, head straight for the middle between
the two paths.
On the loop ride, the trailhead is 2.3 miles up the
Ephraim Canyon Road from the parking spot on 920 East. (See below.) If
you're shuttling, go 2.9 miles from where U-29 turns 90 degrees toward the
mountains. Watch for a cabin on the left side, just as the road turns to
the left. The trail is the doubletrack heading back to the west (parallel
to the road, going back the direction you came).
Typical mellow flat singletrack on the
edge of the old canal.
|Your next navigation challenge is 0.2 miles down the
doubletrack. The doubletrack splits, with one DT heading west downhill,
and the other turning southeast uphill. Don't take either one! See the big
pipe at the trail fork? Now look up and see the vertical pipe in front of
the pine tree. The trail continues between the two pipes, heading
southwest. (Look at the photo above!)
The trail lies on top of the old
flume. Note the metal half-shell on the right, supported by timbers.
Once you're on the singletrack, keep straight as a couple
of sucker ATV routes join and split away. Once you're a half mile along,
you can't get lost. You'll find yourself on the edge of an old overgrown
canal. Traverse around the mountain westbound.
a little trickier, but still easy riding as we traverse around the hill.
|As the trail winds around sandstone cliffs, some of the
trail actually sits on the old flume structures. Stop and take a peek at
the half-pipe you're riding on. Enjoy the views over the valley.
View back at Ephraim Canyon, looking
northwest from the Flume Trail. As we've stayed level, the valley has
dropped away from us.
After skirting the cliff with the help of some boardwalk
structure, you'll again follow the edge of the old canal. As the
trail begins to turn south, it dips through the old canal at an old
control gate. It now climbs a little to leave the old flume path.
A washed-away section of the flume is
replaced by this wood ladder.
|Here the mountainside is dry shale under pinion and juniper.
The trail snakes southwest downhill at a 15% average slope.
Continuing the traverse around the
mountain. To our left, the old canal channel. To our right, the mountain
drops away steeply.
As you leave the hill, you'll work in and out of a shallow
wash before joining a gravel farm road.
Follow the road west, then north back to your car.
across the valley toward Ephraim at the mouth of Ephraim Canyon.
riders do this trail as part of a longer downhill, starting with the
Pioneer Trail. Because the Pioneer trailhead is at 8300 feet, this longer
ride can't be done until late June or even mid-July. The Pioneer to Flume
downhill has 2500 vertical feet. Most riders will use a shuttle vehicle,
which I recommend because it will allow you three or four trips down the
mountain. Done without a shuttle, that 2500 foot climb on the gravel
Ephraim Canyon Road is heinous. Especially on a hot August day.
Old head gate. This is where we leave
Pioneer-Flume ride total: 13.2 miles.
Climb on Ephraim Canyon Road: 6.6 miles at 6% average grade, with 5
of those miles at 450 vertical per mile.
Descent: Total 6.6 miles with 3.0 on Pioneer for 1400 vertical (8300
top altitude to 7100),
0.9 on road for 350 vertical, 2.7 on Flume for another 800 vertical to
base altitude of 5900 feet.
[ See Pioneer web page
for mile-by-mile of combined ride ]
The trail winds through the trees
angling downhill to the southwest. Some areas are loose enough to create a
traction challenge at 15% downslope.
|Riding notes, clockwise loop:
0.0 North on paved road N39 20.425 W111 33.882
0.3 R on Ephraim Canyon Road N39 20.646 W111 33.903
2.3 180-degree R onto DT N39 20.260 W111 31.590
2.5 ST straight ahead at end of big pipe
N39 20.261 W111 31.746
Critical spot! Leave ATV tracks
2.8 At flume
3.7 Old headgate, cross, climb
3.8 Begin plunge
4.5 Out into valley
4.7 Join gravel road
5.0 Back at parking
Almost done. We'll drop down the
ridge, then steeply left to the wash.
Getting there: On US-89 in Ephraim, go to 400
south and turn east towards the mountains. At 300 East, turn right. You're
on state road 29, the Ephraim Canyon Road. After 0.6 miles, the road turns
90 degrees left. Go 0.8 miles to (I think) 920 East and turn right. At the
gate where the road becomes a "private driveway" (and your return path), park on the west side of the road. Begin the ride by
backtracking north on the paved road.