||Silver Lake Flat
Silver Lake Flat Reservoir is an absolutely beautiful alpine lake surrounded by
granite and limestone peaks. Families can fish, picnic, paddle their
boats, and ride around the lake. Hard-core riders can use the climb to the
lake as a training ride, or grab one of the singletrack options. The Lake
is at 7300 feet elevation. It's usually clear of snow and ready to play by
|Photo above: Looking north over the lake, as
granite peaks on the left merge into limestone in the middle of the photo.
The minerals from igneous rock intruding into limestone created the gold
and silver deposits mined here 100 years ago. Photos July 27, 2006.
|Here are a few options for enjoying Silver Lake Flat:
Kiddie-ride: Drive up to Silver Lake. Ride the bikes around
the lake, 1.25 miles, little elevation change.
Classic beginner (or training) ride: Park at Tibble Fork.
Ride from Tibble Fork up the Granite Flat/Silver Lake road (0.8 miles
pavement, remainder is dirt road), around Silver Lake and back, 8 miles
round trip, 1050 feet of climbing.
We're just starting from Tibble Fork.
The first 3/4 mile is paved. That's Box Elder Peak on the right.
|Singletrack addict: Park at Tibble Fork. Climb up on Horse
Access singletrack, loop Silver Lake on dirt road, return by Old Sheep
Trail singletrack and North Fork road. 8.5 miles (5 on ST), 1050 feet
Combo: Up via road, down via Old Sheep Trail. 8.8 miles.
Climbing up from Tibble Fork, you're surrounded by changing
alpine vistas. After 0.8 miles, you'll turn right on gravel road (the
paved road continues into Granite Flat Campground). Now you can look back
down the valley at Mount Timpanogos and Tibble Fork Reservoir on the
south, or look up at towering granite mountains bordering Little
Cottonwood Canyon on the north.
The surrounding forest mixes maple, oak, choke cherry and fir. But
somehow it never gets in the way of the views.
Looking south from the Silver Lake
road toward Mount Timpanogos.
|If you don't want to ride up the road, you can take the
Horse Access Trail. (Although labeled for hiking and horses at the middle
trailhead, there's no posted rule against riding your mountain bike up
this trail. I suggest you NOT ride the horse trail downhill -- speeding DH
riders who spook horses could get bikes officially banned from this trail.)
Handlebar view as Pfeiferhorn looms
above the Silver Lake road.
Horse Access trail starts right at Tibble Fork, just to the right of the
paved road as it turns upward from the reservoir. At the fork about 1.4
miles up, you'll want to keep right. Left takes you to the Wilderness
There are bathrooms at Tibble Fork, at the Horse Access
parking area 1/2 mile up the road, and at the far end of Silver Lake. The
water in Silver Lake is crystal clear. Go ahead and take a plunge -- it's
allowed. Silver Lake is a day-use area. There's no camping here.
At the north end of the lake, cross the creek. (It IS possible
to ride right through, but not without taking moisture.) To explore
further, go left uphill on DT. (Note: the narrow trail that heads uphill,
west of the doubletrack, is a hiking-only trail to Silver Lake.) To loop the lake, go right.
We're at the far end of Silver Lake,
looking towards Timpanogos. On weekends, you'll find a few more souls
enjoying the lake.
|After looping the lake, you can bomb back down the road. Or you can catch the Old Sheep Trail
singletrack. That's my recommendation!
You'll find the Old Sheep Trail at the corner of the first
switchback of the road, one mile downhill after leaving Silver Lake (N 39°
29.572 W 111° 38.740).
Jackie cools off at the shore of
||The Old Sheep Trail is 1.8 miles of singletrack. It drops you to the
North Fork of the American Fork River. The first mile veers northward,
following an old
road-grade. This area an easy-technical ride. The last bit gets steeper
and trickier -- how tricky depends on the amount of springtime erosion.
The singletrack will deposit you on the bank of the river. Depending on the time of year, you may need to scout
up- and down-stream for the best river
crossing. There's usually a makeshift log bridge or two in the area, but
springtime floods may wash them away. In early summer, the water may be
very high, cold, and fast. Pick your spot carefully.
We're looking down the Old Sheep Trail
after it's turned back northward.
|After crossing the river, you'll turn right downhill on the
gravel North Fork Road. There's about a mile and a half of downhill
cruising along the river.
On weekends, there may be a fair amount of
traffic on the North Fork Road. Depending on your tolerance for the roar
of ATVs and sucking in dust, the road can be an unpleasant section of
"trail" on a holiday weekend.
As we near the North Fork of the
American Fork River, the trail becomes more steep, with an occasional
tricky spot. Many sections of the trail have a "fall line"
orientation, so they're subject to washing out. It's usually pretty easy
to hold a side-wall line above the wash-out.
||Riding notes, up road to Silver Lake, back
via Old Sheep Trail:
0.0 Head uphill from Tibble Fork Parking.
N 40° 28.995 W 111° 38.648
0.05 Follow pavement left uphill.
0.8 Leave pavement, R uphill on gravel road
N 40° 29.382 W 111° 39.171
1.9 Horse Access Trail crosses road
N 40° 29.623 W 111° 39.073
2.4 Pass Old Sheep Trail as road turns L
N 39° 29.572 W 111° 38.740
3.3 Arrive at lake, keep L
N 40° 29.999 W 111° 39.448
3.9 Cross creek, R at fork to circle lake
N 40° 30.407 W 111° 39.399
4.5 After crossing dam, turn L on road
5.5 At corner of switchback, go L on ST
Old Sheep Trail
N 39° 29.572 W 111° 38.740
7.3 At river, find way across
R downhill on gravel road
N 40° 29.978 W° 111 38.169
8.8 Back at Tibble Fork parking
Jackie takes a break under the
"bridge" where the trail crosses the North Fork..
|Getting there: 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 left at the
North Fork junction and drive 2 miles to Tibble Fork Reservoir. Park at the
far end of the paved parking area. To start the classic Silver Lake ride,
head uphill and left on the paved road. To ride the Horse Access Trail, go
to where the paved road turns left uphill, but go a few feet onto the
gravel (North Fork) road. Find the singletrack that runs left uphill a few
feet away from the paved road.