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