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Oxford Peak ATV Loop – Malad Idaho
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Overview
Location

Trail heads near Malad, Downey, and Weston Idaho

Sights

Bannock Mountains

Distance

56 Miles for the Oxford loop with longer loops and side trails available

Parking Lot Elevation

5500

Summit Elevation

9282

Elevation Gain/Loss

3782

Time Required

4-8 Hours

Pets

Yes

Fees

No

Water Info

Lots in spring

Best Season

Late Spring, Summer, Fall

Trail Condition

50 Inch ATV trail. 4x4 very useful

Restrooms

No

Visitor Center

No

Camping

Yes

Food

No

GPS Coordinates:

Third Creek Trail head:42.19139N, 112.12338W
Cherry Creek Trail head:42.30500N, 112.13442W

Driving Directions



The Trail:

This trail is really amazing. Its one of my favorite day trips. It is only about 15 minutes off of I-15 making it pretty easy to get to. The trail makes a large loop around Oxford Peak. This is the peak the dominates the view on the east side of I-15 on the Malad Pass. Oxford Peak is also the highest point of the Bannock Mountains which dominate the views from the freeway from Tremonton, Utah to Pocatello, Idaho. This trail will take the better part of a day and is particularly pretty in the late spring when it is very green with lots of wildflowers. There are trail heads in Malad, and Downey. The Malad one is in Weston Canyon which also makes it very accessible from Cache Valley. This trail is pretty easy for experienced riders but I would not take beginners. There are several very steep and rocky spots with very large drop offs if mistakes are made. I personally thought it was a whole lot of fun. This trail isn’t normally open until sometime in June. We went the end of may and were the first ATV tracks to break through the huge snow drifts up near the peak. This trail is only open to vehicles 50 inches or less in width. This means it is closed to most side by sides. There are fences to make sure it stays at these widths. Please respect these restrictions by not damaging the fencing. When we visited we saw 3 different side by sides and  a very drunk group of jeepers tearing up the trail to try and get on. If you witness these people try and get info and turn them into the forest service. Stupid people like these who think they can do whatever they want are the reason we are losing so many good trails. Here is a crude map to give you an idea of how the trail system works.

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Here is a view of the Bannock range from the East side in the city of Oxford. The trail crosses just below Oxford Peak which obviously is the highest point here.

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I started my ride from the Third Creek trail head. There is enough room for several trucks. We had the trail to ourselves. In fact we only saw one group of dirt bikes the whole day.

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I headed north so I could go in a clock wise direction but either way would work. The trail has several small water crossings and passes through forest and meadows as it skirts the foothills on the west side of the range.

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The wildflowers in this section are awesome!

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Off to the west are beautiful views of Elkhorn Peak. It is the second highest (behind Oxford) in the Bannock Range, and it is adorned with very impressive cliff faces.

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Not as impressive as the East side, the west side of Oxford Peak is unknowingly viewed by many from I-15.

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You will soon reach the Cherry Creek Campground which is the most popular spot to enter the trail.

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From Cherry Creek the trail starts to climb up a narrow canyon with pretty views all around.

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From the ridge at the top of the canyon the views of Oxford are very impressive. This is also a great place to have a picnic and enjoy the beautiful views of Cache Valley and the Bear River Range off in the distance.

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The ridge brings the most pretty views of Oxford Peak. I love this part of the ride!

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The trail then passes under Oxford peak. This is probably the prettiest part of the trail. We saw waterfalls and a decent sized lake.

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The trail continues to climb and after the lake there are some very steep spots so make sure to be careful. We also encountered some snow in this area.

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You will soon approach another ridgeline. The mountains get more desert in the environment from here on out.

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Once you reach the ridge you will see Oxford just to the north.

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There is a side trail the can take you near the summit. Its an easy hike to the top from there if you want to bag the peak. The trail to the summit is not for beginners. There is one spot that is very steep and very loose. I was only on a sport quad that day and it took me 5 stressful attempts to make it back up the climb on the way back. 4×4 is needed and don’t go alone. This picture shows the hill in question in the distance climbing the small knoll in left center.

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Once at the end of the trail be sure to take the short easy walk to the actual summit and be sure to sign the register. The register shows that very few people venture here. Its a destination for peak baggers since it is the highest peak in the Bannock Range.

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The views from the top are spectacular in every direction. The peak is very steep on both sides.

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Hike back to your ATV, or Motorcycle and head back for the main trail.

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Once back on the main trail the view to the south is Weston Peak, and Old Baldy Peak. You also get a pretty view of the Wellsville Mountains in Utah which are always worth a mention since I live in Wellsville.

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The views down into Malad are gorgeous.

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You are now on the Oxford Ridge. From this ridge the trail heads south for a short distance before descending a canyon and back to the parking lot. This part of trail passes a very steep drop off where it seems like you are looking straight down onto the little town below.

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The Return:

Since this is a loop there is no return.

Personal Thoughts:

This is an area that isn’t on a lot of peoples radar but is very beautiful and has enough challenge to make it one of my favorite day rides in the northern Utah, southern Idaho area. The 50 inch restriction keeps a lot of crowds away which makes for a peaceful experience.

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Ratings (out of 10)
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Difficulty
6.0
Technicality
7.0
Enjoyment
8.5
The Bottom Line

Difficulty is basically the length, duration and stress of the Trek. If the Trek is really long then it will receive a higher rating. If the Trek is short then it won't receive that high of a rating. However, difficulty rating also includes how tired we were at the end of the Trek.

Technicality is how strenuous the Trek is. If there is lots of bouldering or if there is bushwhacking involved then the rating will be higher. Technicality also includes if there are steep inclines or the need for ropes and other equipment.

Enjoyment is strictly how much fun we had doing the Trek. Regardless of how tired and exhausted we were, if we had a ton of fun doing the Trek then it will receive a higher rating.

8.5
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About The Author
Josh1990
I love adventure! I live in Cache Valley, Utah. Do you have questions on any of my Treks? Email me @ joshua.oyler@gmail.com

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