Wheeling Across The Country
Where does that trail go?
There's nothing better than discovering a road or trail heading into the distance that you're not familiar with. How many times have we explored those unknown roads and found adventure?
While exploring the mountains south of I-70 and the Fremont Indian State Park in south-central Utah, my friend and I came across ruins. The first building was a mill that had fared surprisingly well considering it had weathered a century of harsh winters and hot summers.
When we returned home, I did an Internet search for “ghost town south of Fremont Indian State Park” and found nothing. I couldn't glean anything from Google Maps, either. Satellite imagery showed the remains of the mines and town, but no name was attached. Finally, I noticed the road we had used to access the area was named Kimberly Road. A search for “Kimberly, Utah,” struck gold.
The ruins turned out to be part of the ghost town of Kimberly (also called Snyder City or Gold Mountain), a gold boom town that thrived from 1891—the year the soon-to-be-famous Annie Laurie lode was discovered—through 1910. During its heyday, Kimberly was the leading gold camp in the state and boasted two hotels, two stores, two newspapers, and three rip-roaring saloons. It may soon be booming again, as National Gold, Inc., has acquired the mines and plans to reopen them and build a resort nearby.
Kimberly has one other claim to fame. It was the birthplace of Ivy Baker Priest, President Eisenhower's Secretary of the Treasury in the 1950s. Remember U.S. currency with her signature? She was also the mother of Pat Priest, who played Marilyn Munster on The Munsters TV show. Interesting.
South of my house lies the Arizona Strip that has hundreds of miles of roads and trails to explore. The Temple Trail is an historic wagon track running from a pioneer sawmill on Mt. Trumbull, Arizona, to St. George, Utah. Decades ago, the BLM marked the original trail with wooden posts every half mile or so. Over the years, the posts have weathered and many have been stolen or washed away. There is no current interest in keeping historic trails marked, so it's up to us to find them. Graded roads and two tracks follow parts of the Temple Trail, but some sections have almost completely disappeared.
We decided to follow the original trail as much as possible. After leaving the improved dirt road, we were able to see a post in the distance, so headed for it. After that, we were able to spot posts still standing upright through binoculars. At one point, there was a rock outcropping that looked like it would afford protection for early travelers wanting to stop for the night in desolate country. Hiking around the area brought us to a hidden, run-down corral built from volcanic rock. Sure enough, this was a spot used by the pioneers.
Farther south, a modern road climbs the Hurricane Cliffs via the Navajo Trail. The original Temple Trail continued south along the bottom of the cliffs. So did we. After losing the trail numerous times but still paralleling the cliffs, we came to a dugway that went directly up the side of the cliffs. It had been washed out over the years until it was a deep V-notch that was impassable. We were able to climb the steep, volcanic rock-covered hill next to the V-notch to a gentler slope where the wagon road could still be seen and followed. At the top of the cliffs, solid rock had been blasted and broken away to make a gateway wide enough for the big freight wagons. What work it must have entailed, not only building the trail, but traversing it with horses, oxen, and heavily laden freight wagons.
Our 4WD vehicles bring us to places we could never see any other way. Watch for detailed features on these and other adventures in the pages of 4Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine.
We'll show you where that trail goes.