The Peavine Corridor trail is a hidden gem in the Manti-La Sal National Forest (now part of Bears Ears National Monument) that makes you wonder how it is allowed to exist. Traveling through a forested canyon surrounded by stunning red rock cliffs, the road follows a narrow corridor cherry-stemmed out of the Dark Canyon Wilderness when it was designated in 1984.
Though the rest of Peavine Canyon is in a Wilderness Area where no motor vehicles are allowed, this corridor allows motorized access deep into the heart of the canyon. Because of this, it has long been the bane of wilderness advocacy groups like the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, which have sought the closure of this road for decades. There is likely to be another major push to close it as part of the ongoing management planning process for Bears Ears National Monument, so be sure to drive it while you still can!
The road begins at a small trailhead with an outhouse off Elk Ridge Road and, from there, descends steeply into Peavine Canyon. This section is mostly a rocky shelf road with a few moderate rock ledge obstacles. Upon reaching the canyon floor, the road levels out and travels through the riparian area along a seasonal stream going down the canyon. The road is lightly traveled and difficult to follow here, as the floodplain it crosses can change significantly as a result of spring runoff and flash flooding from summer storms. Mudholes and washouts are common and there are several very steep wash crossings that could pose problems for vehicles with inadequate breakover angles. The MVUM does not always accurately show the road's location, so do your best to follow existing vehicle tracks and the few directional signs to avoid damaging the delicate terrain.
Almost 9 miles in, the road forks, with the fork to the right initially traveling up a creek and the left fork continuing across it. The right fork (FR 55378) is 2.5 miles long and leads to the historic Scorup Cabin site. However, the road is severely washed out 0.5 miles from the fork and is impassable to full-size vehicles past that point. There is a narrow dirt causeway with 10-foot drop-offs on both sides that an ATV or dirt bike could probably cross and continue, but it is too narrow to be safely crossed by full-size vehicles. The Forest Service is unlikely to repair the road past this point, so most vehicles will need to turn around here. The left fork (FR 50089) continues 2.25 miles past the fork and dead-ends at a hiking trailhead in Rig Canyon shortly after climbing a large rock ledge. The left fork also accesses the Dark Canyon West trail, which allows hiking access deeper into the Dark Canyon Wilderness.
Overall, the Peavine Corridor trail is a spectacular and challenging 4x4 trail that offers a very different experience than southern Utah is typically known for. While this trail would mostly be moderate in dry conditions, the significant ruts, mudholes, and tricky wayfinding in the middle section across a boggy floodplain merits a difficult rating. If you go alone, be sure to bring a winch line extension to be sure you can reach the nearest tree if you get stuck. While camping is allowed on this route, as long as your vehicle remains inside the motorized corridor, there are no established campsites along the trail. There are multiple excellent campsites along Elk Ridge Road near the trailhead.
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