Uintah Basin Snowmobile Complex provides easy snowmobile access to the eastern Uinta Mountains, Utah's highest mountain range. More than 75 miles of groomed trail take off from U.S. 191 north of Vernal, leading snowmobilers into one of northern Utah's favorite snowmobile playgrounds. Trailheads are located at Elk Meadows, East McKee, Flaming Gorge, Red Canyon Lodge, and Taylor Mountain.
Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is located immediately adjacent to the complex, and offers world-class fishing and other recreational opportunities. Named for the brilliant flaming color of the sandstone ledges surrounding the reservoir, the Flaming Gorge area offers breathtaking views at every turn. Private lands are interspersed with public opportunities in the region, and snowmobilers are encouraged to respect private property rights.
Below are some specific items of interest about the trails included in the Uintah Basin Snowmobile Complex. Check with local U.S. Forest Service offices for trail guides and travel maps of ungroomed trails and areas open to snowmobile use.
The 22-mile Don Hatch Trail memorializes one of the regions true outdoor recreation pioneers. Roughly paralleling U.S. Highway 44 near the summit of the Unita Mountains, this trail meanders through the lodge-pole pine forest and open parks common to the region. Numerous open areas are located adjacent to the trail, providing ample opportunities for deep powder play. Easy access to the trail is gained at any number of plowed and signed trailheads.
Though the western section of the trail is generally wide and flat, snowmobilers should be aware of two particularly tricky sections of the southern part of the trail. South of Greendale Junction (to Flaming Gorge Lodge) the trail follows a power line right-of-way. The right-of-way crosses two large hills requiring advanced hill climbing skills to negotiate when fresh snow is on the trail. The trail is narrow along this stretch and only skilled riders should attempt to ride here unless the groomer has recently packed the trail.
Red Cloud Loop
Because of the natural beauty of the area, Red Cloud Loop has been designated as a National Scenic Byway. When winter descends on the area, the beauty only increases. The trail is relatively flat, wide and well-groomed, providing excellent opportunities for riders of all abilities. More experienced riders will enjoy traveling the East Park Spur (C) and the Hacking Lake Trail (E) in search of expanding play areas in the high mountain parks and meadows. Snow conditions and forest logging operations generally result in delayed opening for this trail, with grooming beginning around the first of January.
The ever-present wind, which the Uinta Basin is famous for, results in moderate to severe drifting of the trail in less wooded areas around Trout Creek and Windy Park. The southern arm of the loop provides a well-sheltered trail that climbs leisurely along the dark canyon walls of Big Brush Creek. Wintering moose are occasionally seen along the eastern stretches of the trail. Riders should be prepared to yield to these massive creatures.
The Taylor Mountain Trail rises rapidly from the foothills north of Vernal to connect with the Red Cloud Loop Trail at Kaler Hollow. This trail is exposed throughout its length and may be devoid of snow during dry winters. Snowmobilers should inquire locally about snow conditions. When snow is plentiful, this trail provides a popular means of accessing the upper complex play areas. Wintering elk and deer often utilize much of the Taylor Mountain area as winter range, and riders are reminded not to chase or harass them.
Connecting with the south end of the Don Hatch Trail is the Basset Spring Trail. On the northern end, this 11-mile trail provides access to numerous play and climbing areas. As the trail begins to descend into Brush Creek, it becomes quite narrow and very steep requiring advanced riding skills to safely negotiate.