The Paiute Trail began in the small community of Circleville back in the summer of 1988. Two lifelong schoolmates and good friends were sitting on a pickup tailgate sipping on Cokes and speculating about the recent closure of Highway 153 to OHVs, which, at that time, consisted primarily of 3-wheelers. This closing was taking away their access to favorite hunting and fishing opportunities. They knew of a horse trail called “Wade’s Canyon” that, if modified, could be made to accommodate their machines. That initial theorizing quickly grew into “what if” a trail system was developed that would allow riders to access the public lands of the Fishlake National Forest from the small rural communities in south-central Utah?” It was an idea. It was a dream.
Clyde Lay was the Forest Engineer for the Fishlake National Forest. His good friend, Lindon Romine, was a Piute County Commissioner. Both were prone to action, so they rolled up their sleeves and went to work. They improved that route up Wade’s Canyon to accommodate motorized OHVs— their Big Red 3-wheelers as well as those new 300cc Honda 4-wheelers.
They rolled out some maps and plotted a large loop that crossed three mountain ranges and passed through four rural communities, including their beloved Circleville. Much of this initial 250-mile loop, which was later modified to the current 238-mile loop, already existed with only a few places needing actual construction.
They took their proposal to the counties and towns that would be involved and got overwhelming support. The name “Paiute” was selected, utilizing the spelling of the local Indian culture rather than that of the county by the same name. They also adopted a symbol, nicknamed “Tazz”, a character taken from a local Fremont Indian pictograph, estimated to be 700 years old.
In the summer of 1990, armed with a grant from the Utah State Division of Parks and Recreation, they and a small group of believers began marking the trail on the ground. Their hope and belief were much akin to that in the movie Field of Dreams—“If you build it, they will come.”
While Clyde and Lindon were the initial architects of the Paiute Trail, many other movers and shakers were involved in it becoming a reality, including Carma Thomas, Sevier County Director of Tourism; Ron Bushman, Mayor of Marysvale; Sherry Ashworth, Millard County Director of Tourism; Roger Foisy, an interested and active rider; Max Reid, Public Service Staff for the Fishlake National Forest; Stan Adams, Safety Officer for the Richfield District Bureau of Land Management, Fred Christensen, a local businessman, Andy Godfey, Geologist for Fishlake National Forest, and Bob Leonard, Archeologist for the FishLake National Forest.
These fine people and many others worked tirelessly early on to develop, market, and manage the trail system over the years, resulting in what is arguably the best trail riding experience anywhere in the world. Most of the aforementioned have been inducted into the Paiute ATV Trail System Hall of Fame.
Today, the entire Paiute System is a 1679 mile network that crosses multiple mountain ranges ranging in elevation from 5,200 to over 11,400 feet, spans several counties, and connects 16 small southern Utah communities. The main Paiute #01 loop is 238 miles long. On the Paiute System, there is an additional 753 miles of designated side trails. The total on the Paiute System is 991 miles with the Great Western, Gooseberry and Parker Mountain Trails adding 688 miles.
Our hats are off to Clyde, Lindon, and all of those visionaries who worked so hard to take this great riding experience from dream to reality. You, and the Paiute Trail, are the best of the best!