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Le Tour de Forks
American Fork Canyon

For the rider who's looking for an epic ride in American Fork Canyon, here it is. The Tour de Forks hits North Fork, Mineral Fork, Dry Fork, South Fork Deer Creek, South Fork American Fork, and Tibble Fork in a monster 30-mile ride. Absolute altitude change is 3100 feet, climbing is about 4600.

View into Mineral Basin and the Snowbird Ridge from Ridge 157.

This ride should be considered only by very skilled and conditioned riders. There's about 8 miles of rocky uphill doubletrack as a warmup, then 22 miles of singletrack.

I took 6 hours to do the loop. My excuse is, I was waiting for my dog on the downhills. But allow yourself plenty of time. It's a monster ride.

View on Ridge 157 north of the Ant Knolls.

You won't ride everything. For me, the connector from Dry Fork to Ridge 157 by the Ant Knolls was a half-mile hike. And, depending on ATV traffic, you may have trouble picking lines uphill on the rough Dry Fork Road. If you're not up to the punishment, consider shortening the ride by skipping Dry Fork and the Ant Knolls section of Ridge 157. (Instead of forking toward Mineral Basin at Dutchman Flat, just keep cranking straight up the North Fork Road to Pole Line Pass. You'll drop about 2 miles of singletrack.)
If you follow the ride instructions below, the climb from Dry Fork to Ridge 157 is the only long hike-a-bike. There are a couple of steep 50- to 80-foot sections of Ridge 157 between Forest Lake and the Trail 181 fork that will probably make you get off and walk.

If you've seriously underestimated your leg power, you can bail out by skipping the southern loop and dropping directly down Tibble Fork. Bailouts are also possible at Forest Lake, Old Trench Road 181, and Mill Canyon. If you're not VERY familiar with these trails, take a full topo map and GPS unit with you.

View on the Ridge Trail as we near Forest Lake. 

The descent from Rock Spring to the top of Mill Canyon is fairly steep (about 15% grade). Not horrible, but definitely not for intermediate riders. It takes good balance and descending skills, because the surface may be a bit torn up from motorcycles.

At Mill Canyon, the trail jumps onto doubletrack for 1/2 mile, then catches nice singletrack toward the Tibble Fork - South Fork junction. When you reach the 4-way, turn left and descend South Fork. Cross the paved road and climb the other side, up to the Alpine Loop summit parking.

Here, you'll grab the Horse Flat Trail up, then down the Snow Gage Trail to the Great Western. On the GWT, you'll climb north past Salamander Flat, through Pine Hollow, and back to Ridge 157.

Looking northwest on Ridge 157. We're at 9000 feet.

A hard left turn onto Ridge 157 will take you further north to the 4-way where you descended South Fork. This time, turn left onto the Tibble Fork Trail. Payoff time! Rock and roll down to Tibble Fork Reservoir, where your vehicle awaits!

An open spot on the Deer Creek South Fork Trail, shortly after leaving Ridge 157, shows the fall colors in front of Mount Timpanogos.

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, then ride straight past the outhouse onto the gravel road that heads up along the river.

We've reached the Summit parking lot. Now we go across to find the Horse Flat Trail, which forks left a few feet after leaving the pavement.

Ride Notes, from Tibble Fork Parking
0.0    Go straight onto dirt North Fork road
4.3    Dutchman Flat, find DT on R behind parking
         N40 31.626 W111 36.205
5.6    Fork hard R on DT (left = Mineral Basin)
         N40 32.579 W111 35.685
6.0    Fork L to Dry Fork (R = back to North Fork Road)
         N40 32.399 W111 35.546
7.8    R onto ST (GWT), hike-a-bike climb
         N40 33.770 W111 35.098
8.4    Top of ridge, go R (south)
         N40 33.671 W111 34.777
         Keep R at all forks until you reach Pole Line Pass
10.9  At Pole Line Pass. Cross DT to Trail 157.
         N 40 31.901 W 111 34.243
11.5  Fork R (L = Pot Hollow)
         N 40 31.404 W 111 34.249
13.2  L uphill (R=Forest Lake), begin ugly section
         N40 30.347 W111 34.861
         (continued...)

Here's Jackie watching for squirrels as the trail breaks into a meadow.

13.9  Keep L uphill at both Trail 181 forks
         N40 30.029 W111 35.182
14.8  Fork L (R = Holman Trail)
         N40 29.472 W111 34.938
15.0  Pass Rock Spring, keep R (157) at fork
         N40 29.479 W111 34.794
         Begin descent toward Mill Canyon
16.4  Cross DT to southbound DT
         N40 28.436 W111 35.276
17.0  Fork R on ST (just before end of DT)
         N40 28.071 W111 35.660
18.6  4-way, fork L on Deer Creek South Fork
         N40 27.547 W111 36.894
20.2  Cross paved road to DT
         N40 26.822 W111 36.514
         Find ST straight ahead
21.6  Cross paved road intersection to ST
21.7  Keep R, proceed to Summit parking
         N40 25.767 W111 36.804
         Cross parking to Horse Flat Trail
         N40 25.848 W111 36.812
         Fork L uphill
22.2  Fork R
         N40 25.688 W111 37.109
23.4  Cross paved road, join ST=GWT
         N40 26.151 W111 37.726
23.8  Keep L uphill (R = Salamander Flat)
         N40 26.442 W111 37.672
23.9  Fork L across bridge
         N40 26.471 W111 37.629
24.5  Keep R (GWT) at fork, trail climbs
         N40 26.752 W111 37.651
24.2  Hard L at fork onto Ridge 157
         N40 26.668 W111 37.018
26.1  Fork R uphill (L=Mud Springs)
         N40 27.119 W111 37.366
26.8  At 4-way, fork L on Tibble Fork
         N40 27.547 W111 36.894
28.2  Straight as Mud Springs Trail crosses
         N40 28.158 W111 37.592
29.9  Descend, cross dam, R on road
30.0  Back at parking

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files and route (right-click and "Save as..."):
   Garmin     National Geographic     Google Earth     GPX
High-res topo (Size Alert! 2 MB):  View 
Lodging, camping, shops:
     Links to north Utah County resources

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