Spring 2023

Circleville Trailhead | The Paiute Trail
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Circleville Trailhead

Circleville Trailhead

Welcome to Circleville, the southernmost point of the Paiute OHV Trail. Circleville is located on U.S. Highway 89 and is 50 miles south of Richfield and 26 miles north of Panguitch.

Finding the trailhead is a bit of a stretch, so pay attention. The Circleville Trailhead is located at the entrance to the City Cemetery, which is on the northwest corner of town. It’s a little less than a mile north of the big turn-off on Highway 89 in the middle of town.

Circleville can provide fuel, a meal, and limited lodging.

The trailhead consists of a nice parking area with an information kiosk. However, there are no restrooms.

The concept of the Paiute Trail was originally developed in Circleville. You can read all about the history of how this trail came to be at the trailhead kiosk.

Circleville Trailhead

EXAMPLE GPS Coordinates: 41°24’12.2″N 2°10’26.5″E


Rides from the Circleville Trailhead

You can go south on the Main #01 Paiute Trail. Follow the marked Paiute Trail through town, and it will take you east across the circle valley and into the foothills and Rocky Ford.

Along this route, you can pick up the connection with the Fremont Trail, which goes from Circleville south to Panguitch and the Bryce Canyon area, but that’s another trail system.

A very interesting historical ride is on the Butch Cassidy Trail, which takes you to the boyhood homestead where Butch (Robert LeRoy Parker) grew up. Visit the homestead and learn all about this most interesting character whose life and escapades have been the subject of many books and movies. The legend and the secrets that still remain are worth the time to investigate, learn, and ponder. The homestead is 3.5 miles to the south along the Butch Cassidy Trail.

Our ride, however, will head west on the main Paiute #01 Trail up Wades Canyon. This route is limited to machines 60” wide or under. If your machine, at any point, is more than 61”, you will not be able to make it through the size limiting barriers. Please plan accordingly.

From the Circleville trailhead at 6,100 ft. in elevation, the route heads west across sagebrush flats, which quickly turns to Pinyon-Juniper and Oak as the trail climbs westward.

The first part of the trail is a mountain road established to service the water line, which provides the community of Circleville with its culinary water. This road ends at the five-mile mark and is a trail from there on. This is also where you’ll hit the barricade that limits the size of your machine to under 60”.

One of the most interesting parts of this trail is what is referred to as the Wade’s Canyon Switchbacks. This trail takes 10 tight, nearly 180-degree turns that allow for a rapid gain in elevation. Before you know it, you’re enjoying some breathtaking views of the Circleville and Piute Valleys below.

While the lower segment of this trail is rated more difficult, the upper end is black diamond, which is considered most difficult. It demands all the attention you can muster. Being slow and cautious will result in safe navigation. This is no place for riding fast or hotdogging. Always watch out for oncoming traffic and pass with care.

It should be mentioned that this route varies from year to year from being rough to rougher. Maintenance is irregular, and due to traffic and weather, any given segment can deteriorate into a boulder patch.

Just 8 miles from the trailhead in Circleville, you’ll break over the top and arrive at a place called Betenson Flat. You’ll know it when you get there. Stop your engines and take a moment to scan the vista in front of you. Not only is it “knock your socks off pretty,” but most of the time, you can catch deer and even elk in the vast mountain meadow. This is especially true in the early mornings or late evenings.

From this junction of Paiute #01 and PST #88 (Strawberry Betenson Trail), you can go north on Paiute #01 for just half of a mile to find a restroom. You might need it after coming up Wades Canyon!

Where to go from here? Oh my gosh, there is no end to the possibilities. You can go north on the Paiute, skirting mountain meadows and all they have to offer through a place called Big Flat. Beyond that, you’ll find Buck Ridge, Sawmill Flat, Big John Flat, and more as the Paiute is a 238-mile loop. You might turn south on PST #88, skirting Betenson Flat and on through mature spruce forests past LeBaron Reservoir, Three Creeks Reservoir, Puffer Lake, and a return to the Paiute via Big Flat, making an intoxicating loop through some of the prettiest country Utah has to offer. There are many side trails and loop combinations to fill your available time.

As such, our tour will end at Betenson Flat. The rest of the ride is up to you. Be courteous to your fellow rider. Remember, this is family mountain touring, not the Indy 500.