THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Ezra, K. Lani, Little Shawny. These are all names of trails within a mountain bike trail system near the mouth of Payson Canyon known as Four Bay.
To many who ride, run and even hike these trails, the names may seem trivial, but to founder and creator of the system, Carey Pierce, they all have meaning.
Pierce, who is now a Provo City firefighter, began building mountain biking trails at the Sundance Ski Resort during his off-season as a former member of the ski patrol. After working on those trails, Pierce wanted to create something similar in his hometown of Payson.
“As part of Payson City’s Golden Onion Days, there was a mountain bike race on the old dirt roads,” Pierce said. “After the event in 2003, I thought it would be fun to have some actual trails out there. So I got permission from Payson City and some local landowners, and I started to carve out some trails.
“I would go out there in April after ski season, and I’d do a little here and a little there trying to make the trails connect. It got hard to do it on my own, so I got some local riders to come out and help.”
As the trails started taking form, it became necessary to name them to help distinguish one from the other.
“There’s a trail called, ‘Favorite Trail’ because it is my wife’s favorite trail,” Pierce said. “Then there’s ‘Orange Gate’ because it leads to the Forest Service orange gate. We have ‘Lariat’ because it resembles a lasso, and ‘Overlook’ because it goes to the highest point in the system.”
Pierce jokes about the trail named “JMC” due to locals complaining that it was too steep. His response to them was always that his wife, Janet could ride the whole thing in her middle chain — hence, “Janet’s Middle Chain (JMC).”
The names don’t just describe landmarks and inside jokes, however. Most of the names given to the trails have significant meanings, even solemn remembrances.
Among the trails, there is a “Jax” named for his son, Jackson; “Taze” for his son, Taylor; and “Ray Gun” for his daughter, Reagan.
And then there’s “Ezra” named for a little boy who lost his life too soon.
“I wanted to build a shorter, easier trail for kids,” Pierce said. “Near the time it was finished, I heard that the son of a local mountain biker had just lost his life. I reached out to the family and asked if I could name it after their son, Ezra. The trail has a little picnic table, and the family goes there every year in June to decorate the sign.”
Another local biker named Darce Trotter lost his daughter to brain cancer, and Pierce named one of the trails “K. Lani” in remembrance of her. There is also a trail named "Trotter" after Darce Trotter and his wife, Nancy, who spent a lot of time helping to build and maintain the trail system.
Finally, there is one trail dear to Pierce’s own heart: “Little Shawny,” that he named after his brother, Shawn, who lost his life to an opioid overdose.
“I understand that it may seem a little morbid to some to have many of these trails named after people who have passed on,” Pierce said. “But, these trails are special, and I felt like it was important to give them names that represented special people in our lives.”
There are several other trails in this system that totals over 8 miles. And while many of the signs have unfortunately been knocked down, Pierce said that each trail can be found on trailforks.com by searching “Four Bay Access.”
How to get there:
There are two main access points for these trails. The first one is at the third-mile marker up the canyon. Park on the right side of the road heading up the canyon, and cross over the road (on the east side) where there is a gate. The gate has a sign that says, “Glover’s Lane.” Head up the trail, and about a tenth of a mile up, you will see “Little Shawny,” and a little farther up, you will find “Ezra,” “Favorite Trail” and “JMC.”
For more parking that is not on the side of the road, go up the canyon a few more miles to Maple Dell Scout Camp. You will need to cross the road and take the Four Bay Trail out to the trail access points.
For the complete map of the area, visit Four Bay Access on trailforks.com. You can also download the Trailforks app on your smartphone. This will give you your GPS location on the map to better navigate as you go.