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Willard Mountain to Ben Lomond
AKA: Inspiration Point, Ben Lomond North, Willard Basin, Willard Peak Trail

This is a unique ride. First of all, there are views. Wow. Add mountain-goat-steep slopes that fall a vertical mile from your wheels. Enough to give a hardened rider the heebie-jeebies. And then there's the epic nature of this ride.

Looking south at Willard Peak. Photos by Bruce, September 17, 2008.

If you follow my description, you're doing 29 miles and 5800 vertical feet of climbing. You'll finish at 9700 feet elevation at the top of Ben Lomond Peak. This is not a casual ride. Only the hardened need apply. The round trip (as described) has 6 miles of singletrack, 24 miles of rocky dirt road, and 2.5 miles of pavement.
What to call this ride? The doubletrack goes to Inspiration Point, but the route I'm recommending diverts onto singletrack before the Point. And while it ends on the tip of Ben Lomond Peak, there are two other more-used trails that reach the peak (Ben Lomond and Northern Skyline). Until somebody suggests a better name, I'll call it "Willard Mountain to Ben Lomond."

In the lower canyon, the riding is easy in hardwood forest.

You can skip 1.3 miles (each way) of paved road if you park at the trailer-parking pullout near the canyon, rather than starting in Mantua. And yes, you can eliminate part of the doubletrack climb. But be warned, the road is an ATV playground. I saw only one jeep among countless ATVs and motorcycles. Passing is difficult. And it's so rough (as of 2008) that a reasonably-muscled biker can make the round trip about as fast as a jeep. 

Higher up the mountain, the track is narrow with steep sideslopes. Many areas have huge car-killing embedded boulders.

But if you're determined to skip part of the DT in your SUV, consider parking at the Dock Flat campground (save about 3 miles each way), or bouncing all the way up to Perry Reservoir (save 7.5 miles each way).

Seriously, though, you should do the DT climb, at least from the campground. The scenery is stunning. And if you're not capable of the climb, you have no business being on the singletrack at the top.

View from Inspiration Point. An alternate route is to continue DT to the Point, then drop the ridgeline to join the singletrack.

If you decide to head all the way to Inspiration Point before hitting the ST, the ride will be 15.2 miles each way. It will also add about 300 extra vertical. The ST connector from the point heads south on the ridgeline, makes one zig-zag before rejoining the ridgeline for 1/2 mile, then plummets to join the ST from Willard Basin. You could consider doing this as your out-bound, then drop down through Willard Basin on your way back.

View south from Inspiration Point, with the alternative singletrack on the ridgeline.

The "official" singletrack starts right in the middle of a glacial cirque in Willard Basin. Heading uphill, you'll pass one trailhead (the old trail -- I think it rejoins just above the pond) on your left, then 1/10 mile later come to a log-fence parking area on the left with the singletrack trailhead.

Handlebar view up the trail, just above the pond in Willard Basin.

The singletrack winds upward through fir trees, then climbs along the sideslope up to the saddle, where it joins the route coming down from Inspiration Point.

Looking back where we've been, we're rising above Willard Basin toward the ridgeline.

The trail surface often has loose angular rock, so it's best to maintain some bump-over speed and work the front end lightly. Until the last 60 feet from Ben Lomond's summit, which you'll walk, it's not a highly technical ride.

Once we reach the ridgeline, the views are spectacular as we hug the edge of the Wasatch.

What's tough is seeing the mountain fall away from you, seemingly forever. The valley floor is only two miles away as the biker bounces. It can be vertigo-inducing, and occasionally gave me outright creeps. Even for the fearless, it's hard to keep your eyes on the trail. You want to look.

Split view at one point on the trail. Above, quartzite cliffs. Below, a vertical mile's plunge down to farmland.

When you join the Ben Lomond Trail rising up from the Ogden Valley, it's time to carry the bike up the last 60 feet. You absolutely must get that photo of yourself and the trusty steed right at the summit.

A thunderstorm 80 miles south of Ben Lomond spreads its clouds behind the carbon Rush as it leans against the summit box. Forgot to sign the log book.

The trip back will be fast and furious. There's an occasional gentle slope on the singletrack heading northbound. On the doubletrack there's a moderate climb out of Willard Basin to the saddle and a few short upsy-downsy spots. Be glad you're on the bike. The descent is horrific in a vehicle -- it's like you're the olive in a martini-shaker as you creep down the mountain.

View north as we drop off Ben Lomond.

FYI:  Alternative ways of reaching the top of Ben Lomond Peak are the Northern Skyline and Ben Lomond trails.
The whole big ride, starting at the reservoir:
0.0   Head south on pavement   N41 23.487 W111 58.595
0.6   Keep straight
1.3   Trailer parking on L   N41 28.952 W111 56.513
3.0   Camping area, keep L at major fork
        N41 27.830 W111 56.564
4.6   Fork R (road gets rougher)   N41 26.829 W111 56.500
7.6   Pass Perry Reservoir (road very rough)
        CG = N41 25.629 W111 57.877
9.8   Ridge top, cross and descend   N41 24.658 W111 58.135
        (Ignore roads on R and L)
11.3 Pass alternate TH on L   N41 23.487 W111 58.595
11.4 Turn L at log fence, climb ST  N41 23.489 W111 58.699
11.8 Keep L and head up hill
12.2 Straight 100 yards  N41 23.147 W111 58.869
        Hard L turn   N41 23.188 W111 58.865
        Keep L uphill
12.3 Rejoin "shortcut route"  N41 23.108 W111 58.814
        Switchback R uphill
14.2 Keep L (R=shortcut)
14.4 Meet Ben Lomond trail, go R up rocks
        N41 21.807 W111 57.637
        Summit N41 21.792 W111 57.644
28.9 Back in Mantua
Getting there:  From I-15, take the Brigham City 1100 South exit. Continue straight onto US-91 and enter the canyon. 3.5 miles later, take the first Mantua exit. As you reach the main street, either veer left and drive 0.4 miles to parking (with bathrooms) at the lake N41 23.487 W111 58.595, or turn right and go 0.9 miles until you see a wide gravel area on the left side of the road N41 28.952 W111 56.513. This is where the ATV and motorcycle riders park their trailers, and it makes a fine trailhead for you, too. 
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track file (right-click and "Save as..."):
   Garmin      GPX
High-res topo (warning - 2 MB):  View
Lodging, camping, shops:    Links to Ogden area resources

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