Family Handcart Trek

Nestled in the southwest corner of Wyoming you’ll find a part of the Immigrant Trail that was heavily used by all, but not known to many. You and your family will stay with us for two nights and three days while you walk on the original Pioneer Trail, view graves along the way, camp at the Muddy Creek, and experience the beauty of Wyoming. Trekkers will experience using authentic handcarts.

Tour Dates: July 5-19, 2021

An Historical Experience

This exciting historical experience is designed for families. All ages may participate, including young children, babies and grandparents. It is open to Ensign Peak Academy students, their immediate and extended family members and friends. High school students may attend without a parent. Elementary and middle school students must attend with a parent or guardian.

Read excerpts from pioneer journals telling of their experiencing passing through the area we will be visiting: Pioneer Journal Excerpts

Activities

Black Powder Shooting

Black powder rifles have been in existence for hundreds of years.  These rifles shaped history as they were used for hunting, self-defense, and war. This experience will offer you the opportunity to better understand the workings of the black powder rifle: powder, patch, round ball, ramrod.  You will then step up to the firing line and take your turn, loading and shooting this historic rifle.

Tomahawk Throwing

Tomahawks, also known as a Hand Axe by the pioneers, was a tool carried on the belts by many of the men.  Often during the laborious tasks of cutting timber, men would take a break, sometimes taking the time to challenge their comrades to a contest of throwing a tomahawk into a nearby stump or tree.  This experience can be enjoyed by all in your group.  It challenges the body and mind as you learn to rotate the “hawk” just right so you can “stick it”!

Flint & Steel Fire Building

Before matches and lighters, pioneers learned to produce and catch a spark using flint and steel.  Flint is a material that is found naturally along the historic pioneer trail.  As the people migrated west, they kept an eye out for this important mineral.  When combined with steel it creates a spark.  In order for that spark to be useful, it needed to be caught in a nest of small tinder, then gently blowing into the nest, the pioneer would have a fire in hand.  This experience will teach you how to use the flint and steel, build a proper tinder nest, and have your fire in hand.  

Pony Express Rider

Before text, email, postal service, telegraph — the nation had the Pony Express.  These young men might ride a horse an entire day — stopping along the way for a fresh mount — bringing letters from loved ones across the country.  This experience offers a chance to be camped right on the original Pony Express trail.  You can choose to have the news brought in, or a personal letter delivered by rider and steed. 

Two-man Saw

Pioneers didn’t have gasoline to run a chainsaw — it required man power, sometimes woman power.  It often required two people working in tandem to prepare the timbers for their intended purpose: firewood, structural timbers, and so on.  Your group will use a two man saw to experience the push and pull teamwork that comes with this tool. And don’t get in a bind!

Square Dancing

Oh, this is an experience!  After a long day of trekking, people were tired, sore, and bored.  When members of their company pulled out a musical instrument — one small enough to carry: a fiddle, mountain dulcimer or harmonica — it didn’t take long for the weights of the day to wash away with the music!  Laughter and dancing was soon to follow.  You’ll be surprised by this experience — the joy you will feel as the music starts to play and you connect with friends and family.

Other Experiences

Pioneers found many small and big ways to keep moving forward.  Some were games of convenience: tug-of-war, stick pull, doll making, or marbles.  While others were necessities of being on the trail like churning butter or making soap.  During your Family Handcart Trek, you too, will experience these small and big things.  Marbles, for example, lured children and adults to their knees for a game of keeps.  The one with the steely was usually king!  You’ll feel the blessings of participating in these small and simple things. You’ll also get a bit of a work out to churn your butter for your dinner!

Historical Sites

Gravel Hill

You will have to double up your strength as you descend down Gravel Hill. This was the steepest descent the pioneers had come across thus far in their travels. An attempt was made to zigzag the wagons down this hill and rock walls were built up on the corners to keep the wagons from tipping over. You can still see remains of the rock walls. Also on this hill and all along the trail you will see rocks with iron deposits left on them from the wagon and handcart wheels.

Muddy Creek Camp

When the pioneers arrived at this camp they were pleased with the bunch grass and good water for their stock. While you stay at this camp you will be able to view pioneer graves and remains of the Pony Express Stop. This was a heavily used camp on the trail. Between the years 1847 and 1869, 60- 70 thousand pioneers crossed through it, 250,000 immigrants going to California for the gold rush came through, and Captain Johnston’s army of 2000 men camped here. The Pony Express ran through this camp and there was also a station here built by Moses Byrne.The stage line ran through here and the very first telegraph line went through this camp. Also within two miles from this camp ran the Lincoln Highway, and the first transcontinental railroad bed. In 1856 the rescue companies camped here with the Martin and Willey Handcart Companies on their way back to the Salt Lake Valley. Known deaths on the Muddy Creek: Peter Andersen Phelsted, Anna Hansen, Catherine Jones Bennett, Anna Hansdatter Jensen, Lauritz Larsen

Williams Hollow and Coppra Springs

This hollow was named after a man by the name of William H Bedford. He was buried here July 4, 1852 aged 28. There are also other graves in this hollow that you will be able to view. In this hollow there is also a spring called Copperas Springs. 

Cost & Details

Ages 12 to adult: $479

Ages 6-11: $349

Ages 5 and under: Free

Trek Dates: July 22-24, 2021

Trek Location: The trail and campgrounds are located in the southwest corner of Wyoming, just 100 miles from the Wasatch Front. 

Driving Directions: Take I-80 east out of Salt Lake City to Evanston WY. Take exit 24, which is the Piedmont Exit and go south. Head towards the windmills on County Road 202, turn left onto County Road 207, go approximately 2 1/2 miles to trail head.

Family Handcart Trek Location Map

Please plan to arrive at the trek location by 9:00 am on July 22nd. It is a 2-hour drive from Salt Lake City. The trek will end between 3:00 – 4:00 pm on July 24th.

Supplies & Equipment

WE PROVIDE:

  • authentic pioneer canvas tents
  • delicious dutch oven meals
  • water
  • firewood
  • potties
  • supplies for all trek experiences

YOU PROVIDE:

  • sleeping bags
  • sleeping pads
  • 2 changes of pioneer-themed clothing
  • western hat or bonnet
  • warm outerwear layers, including a coat
  • Good quality, broken-in walking shoes or hiking boots
  • personal items
  • Insect repellant that prevents ticks and mosquitos
  • sunscreen

(A detailed packing list will be provided.)

Rules

We welcome you to this part of the Pioneer Trail. While you are here you will be walking across several working ranches. We hope you enjoy your stay with us, but we hope you will follow these rules so the opportunity of the trail will continue for others.

Ranch Rules

Close All Gates, whether they are open when you go in or not, make sure you close them when you go through.

You will have opportunity to see animals and wildlife. Do not bother them, throw rocks at them or chase them. Remember you are in their territory. Be respectful of them.

Trail Rules

Stay on trail as much as possible. This helps save wear and tear on the ranchers land.

Do not drive any vehicle onto the meadows. A handcart will be available for you to haul your belongings in.

Fire barrels will be provided for your use. Please put rocks under them so they will not burn the grass.

In each campground there is only a 1000 gallon tank, please be frugal in your use of the water.

FAQs

Q: What will temperatures be like?

A: Daytime is warm, but nights and mornings are chilly. Dress in layers and be sure to bring a coat. 

Q: Can I take artifacts home that I find on the trails?

A: No, please leave all artifacts where they are so all can see them. Take as many pictures of them as you please, but leave them on the trails.

Q: Is there a place to park vehicles?

A: Yes, there is a gravel parking area.

Q: Can we bring horses?

A: No, there is too much liability because horses are unpredictable.

Q: Can we bring UTVs or ATVs?

A: No, all motor vehicles must be parked in the parking lot during the trek. Only the trek production team is allowed to use motor vehicles. 

Q: Does the wind blow?

A: Yes

Q: What are the campsites like?

A: Rustic campgrounds with fire-pits, port-a-potties and water. We want this experience to be as authentic as reasonably possible.

Q: What are the bathroom facilities like?

A: Port-a-potties are located at the campsites and half-way along the trails.

Q: Is hand sanitizer available at the port-a-potties?

A: Yes, but it occasionally runs out so we recommend that each trekker bring their own bottle.

Q: Are there snakes?

A: Yes, snakes can be seen along the trail but there are no rattlesnakes or other venomous snakes due to the high elevation.

Q: Are there ticks or mosquitoes?

A: Yes, so please be prepared for both with proper repellant and clothing. 

Q: What are the dimensions of the handcarts?

A: Handcarts are 4’x4’ with 11” high sides. Wheels are 54” in diameter.

Q: How many people will share each handcart?

A: In general, 8-10 people will share each handcart. Families will either have their own handcart or share a handcart with another family or individual(s) depending on the number of people. (You will want plenty of people to push and pull your handcart.)

Q: What is the terrain like?

A: The terrain consists of flat to rolling hills interspersed with washes, sagebrush, grass and juniper trees. There are a couple of steeper hills such as “gravel hill.” There is a good combination of flat terrain and hills to provide a variety of handcart trekking experiences.