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Middle 157 Expert Loop

This is a tougher version of the middle portion of Ridge 157, intended for expert riders. (For an easier ride using this same portion of Ridge 157, see the Mill Canyon Springs Loop page.) The ride starts on the Cascade Springs Road, climbing South Fork to Ridge 157, then descending via a new singletrack back to the South Fork Trail. 

Breaking out of the trees on Ridge 157, we look over our shoulder at Timpanogos. Photos August 30, 2006.

The lariat loop as described here is 5.5 miles, with 1000 vertical feet of climbing. Peak altitude is 8400 feet. It's a tougher ride because middle Ridge 157 is much harder ridden south-to-north, and the singletrack descent from Ridge 157 back to South Fork is steep and narrow. I do NOT recommend riding this loop in the reverse direction -- the trail down from the Ridge is steep and ugly when ridden uphill.

For a longer ride, you can climb up the southern limb of the South Fork trail to the Alpine Loop Summit, then ride Ridge 157 north. This adds about 300 additional feet of climbing, and extends the ride by about 3 miles.

You'll see great views of Timpanogos, Mill Canyon, Tibble Fork Canyon, and the granite peaks of the Snowbird Ridge surrounding Mineral Basin.

The climb up South Fork to Ridge 157 gets easier once you reach the pines. It's a fairly steady aerobic effort.

Park at the bottom of the Deer Creek South Fork trail, on the right side of Cascade Springs road, about 1.5 miles from the Alpine Loop summit. Go across the road and find the northern limb of the Deer Creek South Fork Trail. It will drop past a primitive campsite, cross a creek on a small wooden bridge, then begin climbing through a meadow.

0.7 miles uphill, you'll climb a short but very steep spot then descend a bit and suddenly turn left. Just a few feet after the turn, look to your right. That trail is the return route from the top of Mill Canyon. Go straight past it for now.

Jackie plods along, crossing another meadow on Ridge 157.

When the trail reaches the top of the ridge, you'll find yourself at a 4-way trail intersection. Turn right onto northbound Ridge 157. The trail begins climbing. You've got another 400 vertical to go.

When the trail breaks out onto doubletrack, turn hard right and go into the turn-around area. On the far (left) side of the turnaround, looking out over short scrub, you'll find the downhill singletrack.

We're looking southeast as a newly-dug section of downhill trail leaves the turn-around at the top of the ridge.

The singletrack will meander down the ridge for about 1/2 mile, then suddenly turn 150-degrees to the right. Now you'll begin descending through aspen and fir forest. Sometimes the underbrush is tight, but you should be able to follow the trail easily here.

After dropping through two small creeks, you'll climb slightly to find yourself looking at a large meadow. The ground squirrels recycle the soil rapidly here, and the grass quickly hides the trail. Look across the slope and see if you can spot a couple of rockpiles. Plot your course as a straight line along the cairns.

Typical section of narrow, semi-overgrown trail wiggling through the aspens and firs on the way downhill.

If you don't see the rocks, look towards Timpanogos, then look down to the "hump" of the fir-covered hill just below the peaks. Directly below the middle of the hump -- that's where you're headed. Take your bearing and start riding.

Find the continuing trail as it enters the aspens. After just a few feet, it's suddenly easy to follow again.

OK, here's the meadow where the trail disappears. (More bike traffic will help.) Find the hump on the hill, look straight underneath it, and those are the aspens you should aim for.

The trail will undulate a bit here, and will start to climb again. There are two short but mean climbs, the last of which takes you up to the Deer Creek South Fork Trail.

Reaching the trail, turn left (uphill and around the bend).  Head back to the parking area the way you came.

View through the aspens as we pick our way along a fainter area of trail.

Counterclockwise loop, riding notes:

0.0   Cross the paved road, find the trail
        N 40 26.828 W 111 36.491
0.7   Keep L at fork after sharp turn
        N 40 27.233 W 111 36.390
1.6   Right at 4-way at ridgetop
        N 40 27.547 W 111 36.894
3.2   ST hits DT, hard R
        N 40 28.057 W 111 35.675
        From turnaround, L on ST downhill
4.2   Meadow, trail may be faint
        Aim for "hump" of forested hill
4.8   Back at South Fork, turn L
        N 40 27.233 W 111 36.390
5.5   Back at Cascade Springs Road
Alternate ride: For a longer ride, go up the southern limb of South Fork to the Summit, then ride north on Ridge 157.

Getting there: (Cascade Springs Road trailhead) From I-15, take the Alpine-Highland exit just south of Point-of-the-Mountain. Go east towards the mountains on UT-92 and continue up American Fork Canyon. There's a $6 fee (as of 2009). About 6 miles up the canyon, turn right at the North Fork junction. Drive up to the summit of the Alpine Loop, then turn left on the Cascade Springs Road. About 1.5 miles later, turn right on a gravel road and park. GPS N 40 26.801' W 111 36.489'. Cross the paved road and find the singletrack that crosses the stream and climbs the meadow.

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files and route (right-click and "Save as..."):
   Garmin    Nat Geo    Google Earth    GPX
High-res topo map (200 KB):   view
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to north Utah County resources

Copyright 2006 Mad Scientist Software Inc