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Cold Springs SWA(sh)

This road crosses a very impressive Utah landscape, that is rarely visited by people on bicycles. But that is not surprising. Utah has so many types of landscapes (and Moab is such a comfortable place, to hang out). This shoulder summit is very close, to what may be (as far as I know) the highest road point on the West Tavaputs Plateau: Bruin Point. When combining two approaches to Bruin Point from Nine Mile Canyon, the point described here becomes the two-way summit, and Bruin Point is a short out and back from there.

1.START-END EAST:end of Nine Mile Canyon Rd - start of Cottonwood Canyon
2.jct with Cottonwood Ridge Rd on left
3.jct with Flatiron Mesa Rd on right
4.TOP:100020ft jct with Water Canyon Rd and option do descend on west side
5.START-END WEST:jct Nine Mile Canyon Rd - Dry Canyon


From North.
The new super smooth pavement of Nine Mile Canyon Road leads the cyclist directly to the entrance of Cottonwood Canyon. Especially the first couple of miles of this red rock canyon is impressive. It is lined with with monuments and needles of rock. The good hard dirt surface continues to the junction with the road up Cottonwood Ridge. For an extra workout, you could also take it to the Cold Springs area. It would be a detour, avoiding the upcoming very steep climb.

The gentle grade takes an abrupt end at a 90 degree right turn in the road. The next climb was steep enough, I walked most of it. Signs instruct truck drivers to communicate their intentions of taking "the dugway" on C band radio, in order to avoid oncoming traffic. I only saw only a single motor vehicle on the entire loop, and it was not a truck. At the top of this first steep section the road emerges on the the first wide rolling shelf of the plateau. The way to the top becomes visible soon after that. At the next (unsigned) intersection, it is clear that the way to the top continues straight through the brush forest.

This is another steep section. But once on top, all the mesas with their peculiarly bright, creamy Uinta Basin colors recede in waves to an endless background. These open treeless miles on top is arguably my favorite section on this loop. Soon the transmission tower on Bruin Point becomes visible, and the traverse to get there, looks more scenic than work. But that can be deceiving, especially in May. The road enters the lower part of the Cold Springs Wildlife Management area. With that comes more trees, more shade and more mud, and also more snow - sometimes a lot more. The last several miles of the climb are in juniper forest and the open vast spaces of the dessert seem as far away, as they apparently are. Near the summit an outbreak of private landowner signs, fences and warning signs leave an unpleasant taste. The route joins the other approach to Bruin Point, coming up from the south, and then reaches a high point at the turnoff down Dry Canyon. Bruin Point is a couple of hundred feet higher, but the profile turns down Dry Canyon.

From South. (described downwards). The first several miles follow the plateau edge, but in the forest. Consequently the snow lasts to an even lower elevation than on the north side. A swerve in the road to the north helps loose elevation and gain warmth. Finally the road traverses the bottom of a pleasant green valley. After miles of this comes the last section: red canyon walls rising on both sides, now and then a Cottonwood tree positioned in a picturesque spot on the valley floor. The mud is starting to cake off the bike. Yes - and it is starting to feel hot again, but the water in the bike bottle is still ice cold. Again the most impressive canyon section is the lowest part. The lower part of this road is in good shape again, due to gas wells along the way. The upper part could be described as a very easy jeep trail. There is a compressor station at the canyon entrance.

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow

Dayride with this point as highest summit:


( < CR5190 King's Wells Rd | Gate Canyon s(u) > )

Cold Springs SWA(sh) , additional out and back: at ~6220ft on Gates Canyon Rd > down Gates Canyon > Nine Mile Canyon east > up Cottonwood Canyon > up Cold Springs Draw Rd > Cold Springs Draw SWA(sh) > down Dry Canyon > Nine Mile Canyon west > back up to starting point in Gates Canyon : 57.1miles with 6990ft of climbing in 7:09hrs (garmin etrex30 m3:20.5.19, t20_02)
Notes: very windy, much snow and mud over the top on both sides, hot in the canyon bottoms, a great day