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AF Canyon Overlook Trail

The Overlook Trail is a nice out-and-back ride to a viewpoint high above the confluence of the South Fork and North Fork of American Fork Canyon. From here, you can look straight down at Mutual Dell, south at Mount Timpanogos, west down American Fork Canyon all the way to Utah Lake, and northwest at the granite peaks bordering Lone Peak and Little Cottonwood.

The Scalpel rests against a limestone outcrop at the trail's end, as Mount Timpanogos looms to the south.
Photos September 30, 2006.

From the Timpooneke trailhead, this is an intermediate-technical ride most of the way, with upper-intermediate the last mile or so. It's 9.6 miles round trip, with 1200 feet of elevation change.

The Great Western Trail from Timpooneke is a great ride on relatively plush trail. The forest is a mix of fir and aspen.

The actual Overlook Trail forks off the Mud Springs trail at its highest point, about 1/2 mile from where Mud Springs branches off Ridge 157. I like the ride from the Timpooneke trailhead, which I describe here, but you can get there by starting at Pine Hollow, Salamander Flat, the Alpine Loop Summit, South Fork, or if you're crazy enough, you can even climb up Mud Springs from the bottom end.

We're exiting Pine Hollow. Ridge Trail 157 is just ahead, in that grove of golden aspen.

The trail is a bit more technical after you fork off Ridge 157 onto Mud Springs. The Mud Springs trail sees a fair amount of horse traffic, which can make the riding surface a bit trickier. Multiple water-bar logs present a fun challenge riding uphill. Smile -- you'll get to launch off every one of them on the way back down! This section is a fairly steady climb, gaining about 300 feet in 0.6 miles.

Looking up a typical section of the Mud Springs trail, we see multiple log water bars. Some riders sneak around the edges in slalom fashion, but real bikers hit the logs straight-on. How's your "climbing wheelie" technique?

At the highest point of the Mud Springs Trail, there's a broad meadow. In June, it's a mass of blooming Mules Ear. On the far side of the meadow, just before the trees, the Overlook Trail forks left. Because this area gets worked over by gophers and squirrels, the trail may or may not be obvious. But if you start going steeply downhill, you've gone too far on Mud Springs.

The Overlook Trail follows the ridge of the mountain westward. Here, some scrub oak and maple put on their fall colors.

The day I rode the trail, it was a bit bumpy. Horses had torn up the surface after a recent snow, then the hoof-prints had fossilized. The trail angles gently uphill.

There are a couple of short technical sections where rock breaks through the trail. Great fun. But if you don't think so, just pick up your bike and walk. The rough stuff will be over in a few feet.

One of a few rocky tech sections on the Overlook Trail.

At the trail's end, there's a flat area with an abrupt cliff on your left. You can look almost straight down on camp Mutual Dell. Walk or ride up the tiny steep hill to the west, and you're looking straight down American Fork canyon, across the lake, and into the west desert.

View to the west.

Through the trees to the northwest, you'll glimpse bits of Box Elder Peak, Pfeifferhorn, and the Snowbird Ridge. As you ride back, note the ridge on your left. A few steps up to the top, and you've got a new northern view of the granite peaks.

Looking north after walking a few feet up the ridge just after turning back from the overlook.

Riding notes, from Timpooneke Trailhead:
0.0   Go south (toward the mountain) on #150
0.1   Left across bridge           N40 25.798 W111 38.337
1.0   Cross paved road            N40 26.085 W111 37.845
1.1   Horse Flat Loop (Snow Gage) trail in from R    N40 26.151 W111 37.726
1.4   Keep L (R=Salamander Flat)        N40 26.442 W111 37.672
1.6   Fork L across small bridge         N40 26.471 W111 37.629
2.0   Keep R (L = Pine Hollow downhill)  N40 26.735 W111 37.639
        (Join Pine Hollow trail uphill)
2.6   Hard L onto Ridge 157 Trail         N40 26.668 W111 37.018
3.5   L to Mud Springs Trail (R uphill =Ridge 157)
        N40 27.119 W111 37.366
4.1   At far end of meadow, fork L         N40 27.462 W111 37.850
        Continue mildly uphill.  (If you descend, you missed it!)
4.8   North Fork View          N40 27.480 W111 38.514
        AF Canyon view = 50 feet further west, up small hill

Box Elder Peak is seen northwest through the trees from the Canyon Overlook.

Getting there: From I-15, take the Alpine-Highland exit and drive 7 miles to the mouth of American Fork Canyon. Pay your $6 fee (as of 2009) there. Five miles later at the fork in the road, go along the south fork of the river. About 4 miles up, there's a T in the road. Turn right into the Timpooneke Campground road. The parking area is on your left about 1/4 mile later. Start your ride by heading past the bathroom,  then straight into the small canyon along the creek. You can also get to the Mud Springs and Overlook Trail via Pine Hollow, Salamander Flat, the Summit parking area (Ridge 157), or even by coming up from South Fork and heading south on 157 to the Mud Springs junction.

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide   Printable version of this page
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):   Map datum WGS 84
   Garmin     National Geographic     Google Earth     GPX
High-res topo for printing (500 KB):  View 
Lodging, camping, shops:  Links to AF Canyon resources

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