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Mill Canyon Springs Loop
(Middle Ridge 157 Easy Loop)

This is a very scenic, pleasant 8-mile loop on the Cascade Springs Road. It's a quick ride -- a strong rider can hammer it in around an hour. Overall, this is an intermediate level ride. Although an in-shape beginning rider can easily do the climb, the section on Ridge 157 can be challenging.

From the ride's high point, we're looking northeast toward the Snowbird ridge. Photos August 25, 2006. For an expert-level all-singletrack loop using this same middle section of Ridge 157,
see the Middle 157 Expert Loop page.

I'm not sure why this route is called the "Mill Canyon Springs Loop," because it doesn't actually go past Mill Canyon Springs. The ride combines 2 miles of paved road, 2.5 miles of dirt road, and 3.5 miles of singletrack. Total climbing is 1400, but 300 feet of this will be on the paved road and 1000 feet is on easy doubletrack. Peak altitude is 8400 feet.

Normally, I hesitate to recommend any ride that involves substantial pavement and dirt road, but this really is a nice fun loop. It gets you onto a section of Ridge 157 that you can't visit via other routes without substantial pain. You'll see great views of Timpanogos, Mill Canyon, Tibble Fork Canyon, and the granite peaks of the Snowbird Ridge surrounding Mineral Basin.

You can bypass about 1/2 mile of the dirt road with this singletrack that shortcuts between two switchbacks of the road. Watch for it just after the first hard left turn of the road, around a mile after leaving pavement.

Park at the bottom of the Deer Creek South Fork trail, on the Cascade Springs road. Then bomb down the paved road at lightspeed for about a mile and a half. Oops. Time to climb. Gravity's Free Lunch must now be paid for. Just before the top of the ridge, the dirt road forks uphill on the left. (An alternate spot to park is on the side of the road at the top of the climb, about 150 yards uphill from the dirt road.)

This is the dirt road to Mill Canyon Springs.
Just pretend it's very wide singletrack!

The climb up the dirt road is mostly middle-chainring, with pretty views on all sides. Nice training ride...

Just after a short steep section, you'll reach a meadow. The northbound Ridge 157 singletrack is on your right. You need to turn left -- south -- on the dirt road that's a few feet past the singletrack. (Straight ahead takes you downhill 1/4 mile to Mill Canyon Springs and the Mill Canyon Trail.)

After 1/2 mile on doubletrack, Ridge 157 (Great Western Trail) forks off on your right just before a turn-around. (The downhill trail at the end of the turnaround that drops steeply southeast and connects to the lower part of the South Fork Trail. This is part of the Middle 157 Expert Loop.)

Beautiful vista after vista, until you're sick of gorgeous mountain views. Here's (yawn) another in an endless series of looks at handsome Mount Timpanogos from this trail.

We're on Ridge 157 now, zipping downhill (with 
an occasional quick grunt up and over a small hill).
Periodically the forest opens up to views of
Timpanogos, Box Elder, Pfeiferhorn, etc.

Jackie emerges from the deep fir forest into another 
meadow of showy goldeneye. This is the easiest 
direction to do this section of Ridge 157. The uphills
are short enough that you can stand and attack.

You'll spend a couple of miles southbound on Ridge 157. While this is mostly downhill, there are some rocky sections and some tricky but short climbs. Continue to the 4-way intersection with the South Fork and Tibble Fork trails. Turn left and begin descending some of the sweetest singletrack in Utah. The Deer Creek South Fork trail is an absolute joy to ride, whether you're bombing fast and mean, or meandering down while enjoying the beautiful trees and bushes.

At the bottom of the trail, cross a wooden bridge and climb uphill a few feet to the paved road. Your parking area is just across the road.

View down the Deer Creek South Fork trail as we descend. Most of this trail is butter smooth with sweeping turns.

Counterclockwise loop, riding notes:
0.0   Right downhill on the paved road
        N 40 26.828 W 111 36.491
2.0   Left on dirt road
        N 40 27.219 W 111 34.854
2.9   Optional ST on left (goes to next switchback)
        N 40 27.535 W 111 34.858
3.4   ST rejoins on L
        N 40 27.882 W 111 34.898
4.2   Pass R157 on R, turn L on DT
        N 40 28.440 W 111 35.295
4.8   R on ST (Ridge 157, GWT)
        N 40 28.323 W 111 35.346
5.8   Keep L (Ignore faint trail downhill R)
        N 40 27.975 W 111 36.579
6.4   L at 4-way onto South Fork Trail
        N 40 27.544 W 111 36.861
8.0   Cross road to parking.
Alternate ride: For a longer ride, continue past South Fork on Ridge 157. Go all the way to the Alpine Loop summit, and descend via the southern end of South Fork.

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'. Head right downhill on the paved road to start the ride.

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 (400 KB):   view
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to north Utah County resources

Copyright 2006 Mad Scientist Software Inc