Equestrian Center poised to become trail-riding hub

The Cleone Peterson Eccles Equestrian Center, as shown here in an aerial photograph, is upgrading its facilities to hold more horses and add restrooms and showers.

MT. PLEASANT—The Cleone Peterson Eccles Equestrian Center, which includes the ConToy Arena, will be at the center of a project designed to improve and develop back-country horse trails from Maple Canyon to the Skyline Drive, project participants announced last week.

Eventually, the Mt. Pleasant Trail System and Amenities Project could boost local tourism by drawing trail riders from throughout Utah and surrounding states.

One of the first steps will be for the equestrian center to upgrade its facilities by adding 40 horse stalls, 25 RV hookups, and men’s and women’s restrooms and showers, to accommodate riders embarking on or returning from the network of trails.

The upgrade is being made possible by grants, direct funding and in-kind word donations from Utah State Parks, the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA), Mt. Pleasant City, a Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant and the Central Utah Back County Horsemen.

Another major phase of the project is repairing 20 miles of trails and rebuilding a bridge in Canal Canyon, as well as clearing overgrowth in Maple Canon, and repairing trails in the White Hills, Black Hills and along Skyline Drive.

Funding for the project is coming from multiple sources. The MPNHA is providing $50,000. Mt, Pleasant City is providing $12,500; Utah State Parks is offering $67,000; and the Utah Outdoor Recreational Grant will provide $150,000.

In additional to the monetary contributions, the Central Utah Back County Horseman will donate $8,000 in in-kind labor while Mt. Pleasant City will donate $12,500 in-kind.

Various groups and institutions have expressed support for the project. “For most of our students, living in Mt. Pleasant will be the only time in the lives they will live in a rural environment,” wrote Paul Applegarth, assistant head of school for finance and facilities at Wasatch Academy.

“Equestrian activities have been important to our students, some of whom are just beginning to be exposed to horses, some of whom are expert riders.”

President Lynn Barton from the Central Utah Back Country Horseman said his group is a staunch supporter of the project—enough that it is willing to put some sweat equity into trail repair.

“In addition to being a diverse group of individuals who love riding on our beautiful public lands,” Barton wrote, “we are also a service organization, which volunteers labor to assist managing agencies in maintaining and improving the trails we ride.”

Kevin Christensen, director of economic development and travel for Sanpete County, sees the equestrian center upgrades as an opportunity to boost tourism.

“The tourism industry is growing in Sanpete County,” he said. “Restaurant and transient room taxes have increased 84 percent over the past 10 years. It is anticipated that the above improvements will attract visitors from around Utah and neighboring states. Lodging and restaurant businesses in the North Sanpete area will benefit as the equestrian center will be the hub of horse-related activities.”

“Horses are big business,” added Monte Bona, director of the MPNHA. “This is definitely an economic development tool.

“It opens up a whole avenue for people who have horses with not many places to ride them.”