Old Ephraim's Grave Trail
Tucked away in the fertile Cache Valley of northern Utah lies the agricultural college community of Logan. Over a century ago, trappers scurried through the surrounding mountains and valleys hunting beaver and other fur-bearing animals. They "cached" their pelts in secretive locations then "cashed" in their bootie at the yearly mountain man rendezvous.
Today, Logan is a quaint town located off the beaten path that offers a wealth of recreational opportunities. Hikers find solitude in the nearby Mt. Naomi Wilderness; anglers cast fly lines into the blue-ribbon Logan River, and technical rock climbers cling to the craggy cliffs overshadowing Logan Canyon. Mountain bikers love Logan's fat-tire trails, and the Right Fork of Logan Canyon is the trailhead for a nexus of rides.
Old Ephraim's grave is a Logan classic. Old Ephraim was an infamous grizzly bear a hearty appetite for sheep, cattle, and big game. The 1,100-pound beast was the last griz known to roam Utah. Midway through this ride, you'll pass the gigantic 11-foot stone monument that marks Ephraim's 1923 gravesite.
Old Ephraim (the ride) is a 20-mile loop rolling through the northern Wasatch Range, following dirt roads, jeep roads, and a touch of singletrack. Although you won't be scaling entire mountains, total vertical gain approaches 3,000 feet, so this route is best suited for solid intermediate riders.
The loop commences with several miles of moderate climbing up Cowley Canyon, followed by more climbing, at times rough and steep, to the upper trailhead for Ricks Canyon. The Great Western Trail passes through here on its 3,000-mile course from Canada to Mexico. As the loop circles north, it winds through thick groves of aspens separated by lush meadows. Take a look over your shoulder to view the central Wasatch Range as it fades into the distant south from Ogden to Salt Lake City. After passing Old Ephraim's grave and descending at full throttle speeds to the Right Fork of Logan River, you must tackle one more sizeable climb. When you reach the top, you're rewarded with a stunning view of the Mt. Naomi Wilderness and of the terraced cliffs in Logan Canyon. The loop culminates on the Willow Creek Trail, which will satisfy any singletrack purist.
If you're looking for something more mellow, wander along the nearby Logan River Trail. This wide dirt and gravel path lures bicyclist, runners, and pedestrians to mingle with the diverse ecosystem of the Logan River. Pack your rod and reel because there are many opportunities to cast a line from the stream's bank. You'll find the trailhead a short way up Logan Canyon, which means you can reach the trail easily by pedaling straight from town.
By Gregg Bromka, author of The Mountain Biker's Guide to Utah.
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