Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Allen Trail near South Cottonwood Road

The South Cottonwood Road access to the south side Manti-La Sal National Forest is 6.4 miles west of Blanding, Utah along Route 95. This junction is well marked. About 8.3 miles north along the Cottonwood Road there is a Forest Road junction with Road 092 to the left and Road 106 to the right heading north.

About 2.7 miles north on Road 106 there is an unmarked minor dirt road that makes a right turn and is a beginning for the Allen Trail. The Allen Trail leads north and south and is about 7.5 miles long. The north trailhead is inside the Manti-La Sal Forest but the south end of the trail is outside the boundary.

I started hiking at the beginning of the minor dirt road. For the first 0.5 miles there are views to the west toward the lower end of Hammond Canyon. Allen Canyon and Hammond Canyon are tributaries to Cottonwood Canyon.

In this general area there are Ute Mountain Indian Reservation Restricted Areas but this road and trail didn't have any posted restrictions. There might be a very old Ute settlement in this area and the agriculturally suitable land has been allotted to the tribe.

The minor dirt road fizzles out and the route continues as a trail along the sandstone shelf above the floor of Allen Canyon and below a mesa top area to the east. In the distance the high peaks of the Abajo or Blue Mountains are visible.

The Allen Trail appears to be lightly used. It appears to be used mostly by horse riders. The trail is faint in a few places but is mostly easy to follow. There are many good lookout points on the sandstone shelf.

There were several alcoves visible along the way, mostly in the white sandstone layer. I scanned them with binoculars but didn't see any visible ruins sites. The trail area vegetation is Pinon Pine and Utah Junipers. Down below in the canyon there are wide sagebrush fields and Cottonwoods are visible in some places.

I went about 3 miles in 1:20 hours to a point where there was a wide side canyon joining from the west.

The map I have showed an area that is called the Bee Hives along this segment of trail. I didn't see anything that reminded me of Bee Hives unless it was the banded mesa top area to the east of the trail. Maybe it is the combination of these mesas sitting on the red shelf that supports the trail. My return hike took 1:20 hours for a total hike of 2:40 hours for about 6 miles. I hiked on an 80 F degree early October day.

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