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Slate Creek

The Slate Creek loop was created just for mountain biking and opened in 2021. It's a well-built and fun trail, with plenty of pretty scenery. The one-way loop ride is 5.6 miles with 750 feet of overall climbing. The expected riding season will be June through early October.

Looking west on a typical trail section during the climb up Slate Creek. Photos and ride review by Bruce on June 3, 2021.

The trail is located along the Mirror Lake Highway just 6 miles east of Kamas. There is a bathroom at the trailhead. While the trailhead is also used by horsemen, only a tiny piece of the loop ride is open to horses. The Beaver Creek trail is located right across the road for those who want either extra miles or easier riding.

Looking toward the western (down-canyon) side of parking. No water here, but a bathroom is always appreciated!

I'd rate the climbing side of the trail as easier-intermediate. The downhill gets a solid intermediate rating, assuming that less-skilled intermediates will walk through the worst of the short rock gardens.

The trail starts at the north end of the parking lot at an elevation of 7050 feet. As you face away from the Mirror Lake Highway, the trail goes up the broad valley at the uphill end of the parking area.

My Rocky reads the trail sign at the entry to the Slate Creek Loop on the northern side of the parking lot.

After around 1/4 mile on singletrack, the trail joins a dirt road. (You'll share the next 1/4 mile of trail with horses now.) Aim for the right side of the corral that lies ahead, then keep straight along the right side of the corral to continue uphill on the dirt road. (There's a singletrack hiking trail on the far right that descends to the creek. Don't go there.)

Doubletrack and the corral you'll pass by.

At 1/2 mile from the trailhead, the dirt road veers to the right. At this spot, the singletrack forks 120 degrees to the left. (As of 2021, there's a sign here. Bikes and hikers go left, while horses and hikers go to the right.)

On the doubletrack. It's just a quarter mile, dude! You can live with that, right?

The singletrack winds through a mixed forest of pine, aspen, and oak. There will be occasional cedar and choke cherry. Pines give way to fir at the higher elevations.

Winding through pine and baby aspen.

There are frequent breakout views, both uphill and down. This is a very pretty ride.

Looking down into Slate Creek toward Beaver Creek during the climb.

The climb is fairly smooth at this time. Turns are gradual (no switchbacks). The rate of climbing is always gentle. From time to time, you'll coast for a bit before the next uphill starts. There will be no trail forks until you're back down next to the highway.

Looking up Slate Creek as we climb higher.

Aspen, a bit of Box Elder, Choke Cherry, and a cedar. Near the top, looking back down the canyon.
For most of the ride uphill, the trail will be exposed enough that you don't get much benefit of shade. Even here in the mountains, it does get toasty warm on summer afternoons. And you're up high enough in elevation for a mean sunburn.

A shadier section of trail with large aspen and fir.

When you hit the wooden bridge crossing a tiny creek at mile 2.2, you're almost through climbing. You just need to go up and around one more hill into the next drainage.

Bridge. A wet creek crossing is coming up. Here's hoping nobody builds a bridge there! 

Slate Creek marks the official spot where uphill turns into downhill. You're now at 7700 feet elevation, mile 2.9. After splashing through the creek, there's a short easy climb before you can turn it loose.

Bruce hits the creek. (Frame grab from video, thanks to Keith at High Mountain Cycles!)

The downhill has banked swooping turns. There's an occasional short bit of pedaling to keep you honest, but overall it's a steady flowing descent. There will be a few short rock-pile crossings that you should hit with moderate speed. The boulders are big enough to trap your tire if you dawdle.

Typical downhill section, with slow turns and banks on the turns.

There are quite a few of these stump-jumps on the upper part of
the downhill. A dirt ramp takes you to the stump for a bit of flight.
The stump is just to the right of the trail in this photo.
A short bit of rocky fun. Some of the rock gardens are long and
would rate "expert" while others just mean you stop
pedaling for two seconds while you bump through.
There are no steep spots on the downhill. Most turns are wide and banked. I found a couple of turns that were tight enough to make me brake, but most of my braking was for line-picking in rocky areas. Or just speed control 'cause I'm timid.

There are spots where you can take your eyes off the trail for a few seconds and enjoy the views.

The terrain on the eastern side of Slate Creek is a bit drier. So while there will be the same pines and aspen, there's a lot more sage and oak than during your climb.

Typical slow banked turn.

As you approach the bottom, you'll reach a flat area of open sage brush. The trail crosses a small cattleguard, then descends to the horse trail.

Make a right turn onto the horse trail, heading west down the main canyon. You'll share the next 0.3 miles with horses. At first, I thought the lines of big rocks across the trail were "Wrong Way - Don't Go Here" barriers. No, they're just water diversion structures.

Almost done. That's the cattleguard in the middle of the photo.

This section of the trail may be less fun for you, but it doesn't have to be. It's a tad "trenched" so there are sometimes sidewalls you can hit. And those rock water-bars just beg you to bunny-hop them.

Water-diversion hump lined with boulders. The last 1/3 mile, the old horse trail, is thick with these.

The bridge over the creek takes you into the parking lot. Time for another lap. Or a cruise on Beaver Creek.

Bottom Line:
This is the trail that riders have been begging for -- a bike-specific ride in the Uintah Mountains along the Mirror Lake Highway. It's more than worth doing. It's a great ride.

Bridge to the parking lot.

Getting there:

In Kamas, turn east towards the mountains on the well-marked Mirror Lake Highway. Drive 6 miles to the border of the National Forest. Turn left into the Slate Creek parking area. (If you will also be riding the Beaver Creek trail, you need to pay a recreation fee. Go 1/4 mile up the highway and leave your dough, then backtrack to the parking lot.) The outbound side of the Slate Creek bike trail is at the northern end of the parking area (looking away from the highway and up the small canyon). The wooden bridge will be your return.

There is a bathroom at the trailhead.

GPS file for this trail (right-click and "Save as...")::
    GPX track file
Map above for printing:   View
Lodging, camping, shops:  Links to area resources

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