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Ant Knolls
Dry Fork Loop, Big Flat Loop

The Ant Knolls trail starts at Pole Line Pass at the top of the North Fork of American Fork Canyon. This is a very scenic trail, with views of Mineral Basin, the Snowbird ridge, and the Heber Valley. The ride can be done as an out-and-back, as an intermediate-level loop by circling east into Big Flat, or as a challenging advanced-technical loop by dropping into Dry Fork.

This is the first of the Ant Knolls. Ridge 157 climbs up the ridgeline at the edge of the trees, while Trail 31 traverses around. Your choice. Photos August 22, 2006.

The singletrack section is only 2.5 miles long. It's an intermediate-technical ride, but the trail is narrow, so good bike-handling skills are required. Aerobically the trail is moderately tough because it starts at 9000 feet and climbs 500 from there.

Most riders will prefer to fork left on Trail 31, rather than try to climb to the top of the knolls on Ridge 157. Motorcycles churn the steep ridgeline climb on 157 into a long push-a-bike. Yes, the views from the top are great. But if your goal is to RIDE, go left at each of the two forks.

Section of Trail 31 early in the ride. The track is about 12 inches wide here. It's often narrower.

The out-and-back is a great ride all by itself, for a total of 5 miles. For more riding, the out-and-back can be combined with a climb up the gravel road from Dutchman Flat or from Tibble Fork.

You can also do the out-and-back as a side-trip while doing the Forest Lake Loop. This makes a surprisingly nice ride, but the descent to Forest Lake and down Shaffer Fork requires advanced-level skills.

View east over the Heber Valley.

Intermediate Loop Ride:  Big Flat.  2.5 miles after leaving Pole Line Pass, the trail forks on top of the ridge. Going right, the trail slopes down to a narrow dirt road. Just keep right at all forks, and including 2 miles later when you reach Snake Creek road, a larger dirt-gravel road. You'll drop 1000 feet down Big Flat before climbing 600 vertical back to the pass. This loop is 8 miles. If you reach the loop by starting at Dutchman Flat, it's a 16-mile ride with 2500 vertical. 

View west down American Fork Canyon.

Advanced Tech Loop Ride:  Dry Fork.  Fair warning -- Dry Fork is a vicious and abusive little downhill. I'd suggest this route only for confident, strong, skilled riders with good suspension. At the fork at the end of the ridgeline, go left to a slope that looks ridiculously steep. The trail drops 600 vertical over 1/2 mile of loose, rutted switchbacks. Reaching the Dry Fork doubletrack, you'll bounce over huge loose boulders. The best strategy is to whoop-de-do the sidewall, pick a spot to cross, hit the opposite rim, then turn and bounce across again. This loop is 7.8 miles. If you start from Dutchman Flat, the ride is 10 miles.

View up Mineral Basin. In the middle, you can barely make out the towers of Snowbird's ski lifts on the skyline.

Ant Knolls-Big Flat Loop, From Dutchman Flat
0.0   Begin riding uphill on gravel road
        N 40 31.626 W 111 36.205
0.7   Fork R uphill
4.0   Pole Line Pass. Find ST on left.
        N 40 31.901 W 111 34.243
4.2   Fork L on Trail 31 (157 = short but steep)
        N 40 32.040 W 111 34.257
4.7   Ridge 157 rejoins
        N 40 32.245 W 111 34.307
5.1   Fork L on 31 (R = 157 = climb Ant Knoll)
        N 40 32.542 W 111 34.265
(continued...)

Handlebar view on Trail 31 as we skirt the second Ant Knoll.

(continued Big Flat Loop...)
6.1   Ridge 157 rejoins
        N 40 33.302 W 111 34.564
6.5   Fork R, end Ant Knolls trail
        N 40 33.671 W 111 34.778 Alt=9500
        Keep R at all road forks
8.0   R on Snake Creek Road
        N 40 33.585 W 111 33.346 Alt=8350
10.5 Keep R at fork
        N 40 32.388 W 111 33.189 
12.0 Pole Line Pass, continue downhill
16.0 Back at parking

View near the end of the trail. The fork for Dry Fork vs Big Flat is just before the last grove of trees.

Forest Lake Figure 8 (see Forest Lake Page)
12.0   Ride Big Flat Loop as above to mile 12
          Don't descend from Pole Line Pass.
          Fork L on ST on west side of clearing
          (If you go immediately uphill: wrong way!)
12.6   Fork R 
          N 40 31.404 W 111 34.249
14.3   Fork R downhill to Forest Lake
          N 40 30.347 W 111 34.861
14.8   Pass Lake, keep R on DT
16.7   Cross river, go R uphill on road
          N 40 31.364 W 111 36.506
17.1   Back at parking

View of typical section of the doubletrack in Big Flat.

Ant Knolls-Dry Fork Loop, From Dutchman Flat
0.0   Begin riding uphill on gravel road
        N 40 31.626 W 111 36.205
0.7   Fork R uphill
4.0   Pole Line Pass. Find ST on left.
        N 40 31.901 W 111 34.243
4.2   Fork L on Trail 31 (157 = short but steep)
        N 40 32.040 W 111 34.257
4.7   Ridge 157 rejoins
        N 40 32.245 W 111 34.307
5.1   Fork L on 31 (R = 157 = climb Ant Knoll)
        N 40 32.542 W 111 34.265
6.1   Ridge 157 rejoins 31
        N 40 33.302 W 111 34.564
6.5   Fork L, end Ant Knolls trail
        Steep descent into Mineral Basin
        N 40 33.671 W 111 34.778 Alt=9500
7.0   L on doubletrack
        N 40 33.764 W 111 35.094
8.9   L on gravel road
        N 40 32.399 W 111 35.546
9.3   Right on North Fork Road
10.0 Back at parking.
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. Go straight past the outhouse onto the gravel road that goes up along the river. To ride the trail from the summit, drive 8 miles up the rough road to Pole Line Pass, keeping right at the fork at mile 5.3. For the ride options described above, go from Tibble Fork only to Dutchman Flat at mile 4. Find the parking area with a wooden fence on your left. Start the ride heading uphill.

And this is the path down Dry Fork! Get yer butt back, be light on the handlebars, but ride aggressively! The typical boulder in the photo is 10-12 inches in diameter...

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
   Map datum WGS 84
   Entire trail complex TPO:  National Geo
   Out and Back:
      Garmin     Google Earth    GPX
   Big Flat Loop:
      Garmin     Google Earth    GPX
   Dry Fork Loop:
      Garmin     Google Earth    GPX
Low-res route maps (similar to map at right):
     Dry Fork Loop     Big Flat Loop
High-resolution topo map for printing (800 KB): View

Lodging, camping, shops:
     Links to AF Canyon resources

Map at right shows the 17-mile Figure-8 ride from Dutchman Flat, with Big Flat Loop and return via Forest Lake.

Copyright 2006 Mad Scientist Software Inc