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Bennie Creek Cutoff Trail

The Bennie Creek Cutoff Trail is an awesome downhill romp. There are a few tricky spots requiring advanced riding skills. But the typical intermediate rider will have a great time, dismounting to walk the bike over these few rock or root tricks.

View from the Bennie Creek ridge, looking southwest towards the Rock Spring area. Photos by Bruce, September 27, 2002.

NOTE!  This trail is now open for riding as of August 15, 2019.
It was closed due to damage from the big fire (and subsequent flooding and mudslides) of 2018.

As a short loop, there's 1500 vertical of climbing: 1400 on road, 100 on the trail. The loop is 8.1 miles, with 4.4 on pavement. You can lengthen the ride by starting from the ridge above the Blackhawk Campground (7 miles of singletrack, 1700 vertical descent). After the initial one-mile descent from the ridge, the ride rocks up and down for 3 miles before dropping down Bennie Creek. This is my favorite -- as a loop. Road portion = 6.7 miles.

Another option is to ride from the campground itself. This gives about 5 miles of up-and-down singletrack riding without any net elevation change before the big 2.5-mile plunge down Bennie Creek. (Road portion = 9.4 miles.) For these longer versions, most riders use a shuttle vehicle for the uphill road portion.

Wow! Sunshine, crisp fall temperatures, beautiful colors. Full-suspension bike with six inches of travel, big tires and disc brakes, ready to take the plunge down the trail. Can life get any better? (Hint: the answer is no.)

The ride is mostly in forest of aspen, maple, and fir. You'll break out into meadows with views of surrounding mountains, including Mt. Nebo.  In September, this area is famous for the color of the leaves. But it's a pretty ride anytime.

The trail wanders in and out of groves of trees, through small meadows. Here, we're looking west, during a break in the descent.

If you do the longer ride using the Blackhawk Trail, you'll encounter a couple of swampy spring areas. Don't try to ride through these spots -- lift up your bike and pick your way through or around.

Another look down the trail. We're at the fork where the Bennie Creek trail plunges downhill from the Loafer Mountain Trail. (The Loafer Mountain Trail is a fun technical descent, but it's a real bugger to climb after the first 1-1/2 miles. Nobody rides it except lunatic explorers like me. But if you wanna go play, be my guest.)

Ride Notes, Long Loop:
0.0  Start from the pullout (near Maple Dell)   N 39 57.126' W 111 40.480'
7.5  Turn left onto Blackhawk Campground Rd
7.7   Just past the turnout (R), go L on ST
        N 39 54.541' W 111 38.348' Alt = 8400
9.0   Join Blackhawk Loop, in from R  N 39 55.147' W 111 37.617'
9.3   Fork R (straight) (L = up to road)  N 39 55.410' W 111 37.574'
11.4 Gate, fork R (L = up to road)   N 39 56.497' W 111 38.499'
12.2 At corral, keep L (R = downhill to Bennie Creek Road)
        N 39 57.122' W 111 38.454'
12.3 Fork L (R = Loafer Mountain)  N 39 57.190' W 111 38.534'
14.9 Back at vehicle

Jackie's a little pooped after racing at 20 mph behind the bike, down the 2-1/2 miles of awesome downhill.

Ride Notes, Short Loop:
0.0  Start from the pullout (near Maple Dell)
       N 39 57.126' W 111 40.480' Alt = 7850
4.4  Turn off road onto Loafer Mountain Trail
       N 39 56.598' W 111 38.515'
4.6  Fork L (R through gate = to Blackhawk Trail)
       N 39 56.497' W 111 38.499'
5.4  At corral, keep L (R = downhill to Bennie Creek Road)
       N 39 57.122' W 111 38.454'
5.5  Fork L (R = Loafer Mountain)
       N 39 57.190' W 111 38.534'
6.3  Faint trail in from L, keep straight and slightly uphill
8.1  Back at vehicle

Above right:  The Blackhawk Trail, from the campground or from the road, adds some great up-and-down meandering riding to the Bennie Creek ride.
Getting there:
Loop or shuttle parking:
Going south, take the Payson exit 250 from I-15 and turn left. Head into Payson on U-115 to the traffic light, then turn left (100 North, U-198). About 1/3 mile later, at the top of a small hill, turn right at 600 East. Drive up the Nebo Loop Road. Look for a small turnout on the left at mile 7.3, with a sign "Bennie Creek Cutoff Trail." If you're doing a shuttle, this is the trail's end. GPS N 39 57.126' W 111 40.480'. If you're doing the loop, park and start riding uphill on the road.

Loafer Mountain TH:  At mile 11.7, there's a small turnout on your left at GPS N 39 56.598' W 111 38.515', with a sign "Loafer Mountain Trail." This is the trailhead for the short loop.

Blackhawk add-on:  At mile 14, you reach the fork to Blackhawk Campground. Turn left. About 1/10 mile down the road, there's a turnout on the right. You want the trailhead across the road, slightly downhill -- not the trail heading directly west from the parking area. GPS N 39 54.542' W 111 38.373'. The second trailhead is in the campground, 2.5 miles further. (Note! If you park in the campground or picnic area, it's a fee area. You gotta pay da man.) Keep left, going into the group picnic area. The trailhead is on the left corner of a small parking area, just before the loop around the bathroom. GPS N 39 53.568' W 111 37.203'
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files and route (right-click and "Save as..."):
   Garmin     National Geographic     Google Earth    GPX
High-res topo map (400 KB): View  
Lodging, camping, shops:  Links to south Utah County resources

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