||Bear Canyon Loop
The Bear Canyon Trail is found on the north slope of Mount Timpanogos
in American Fork Canyon. This ride is for strong, advanced bikers only. It's a beautiful trail
with lots of fun stuff, but it's not for the weak or inexperienced. The
short-loop ride is 8.4
miles, with 1700 feet of climbing. Low spot is 6400, peak altitude 7700.
|Looking across the valley from the
Mutual Dell Trail, the forested area is Bear Canyon. Look easy? Just wait.
Photos July 17, 2006. Trail review by Bruce, of course.
|You're riding in forest most of the time, with occasional
breakouts for views. While much of the ride is only
downhill in Bear Canyon is steep and tricky, plunging 1300 feet in two
miles. And the stiff 2-mile climb up Pine Hollow is tough for casual
You can make it longer by extending the loop both in miles and
vertical feet by climbing up to the Ridge Trail, and/or by climbing the
Timpanogos Perimeter before hitting Bear Canyon.
We're on the Mutual Dell trail,
climbing from the scout camp up to the Pine Hollow Trail.
Check the rock outcrops as you climb the Pine Hollow Trail.
Bring your fossil book. In the limestone, you'll find organisms from the
era when Utah was under the ocean, about 320 million years ago. In the
photo at left, I'm pointing to crinoid stem.
| On the right are
various gastropod shells (clams and snails). The brown lace-like fossil is a
bryozoan, a type of
|To ride as a loop, you can start the ride at Mutual Dell, the Pine Hollow
Trailhead, or the Timpooneke Trailhead. My suggestion is to start at Pine Hollow. There's plenty of
parking there, and it will put the big uphill at the start of the ride.
Another option is to do the ride as a straight-DH with a
shuttle. Drive up Timpooneke, watching carefully for the trail markers
where the East Fork and West Fork cross the Timpooneke Road.
Typical section of Pine Hollow, with
box elder, maple, oak, and some big firs. There are a couple of
root-cliffs and two tough switchbacks. Otherwise, it's mostly
straight-ahead uphill cranking.
|If you're doing the shuttled ride, I suggest you add the
West Fork section above the road. You can catch it in two places:
(1) Drive further uphill on the Timpooneke Road. Shortly after the
road turns south, watch for a doubletrack on the left (N 40° 26.210 W
111° 39.762). At the end of this short DT is a singletrack trail going
uphill. About 100 yards later, you'll find Trail 179 branching left. Watch
for it, about 20 feet uphill from where 151 (Timpanogos Perimeter, GWT)
turns away from this short spur (N 40° 26.186 W 111° 39.680). This trail
takes descends to the West Fork of Bear Canyon.
(2) Continue uphill past a couple of spurs on the left, to find the
Timpanogos Perimeter crossing the road (N 40° 26.054 W 111° 39.925).
There's parking just downhill from the trail crossing. Head north downhill
on the GWT, and find the fork described above. (If you find you've turned
east and are continuing more than a tiny bit uphill, you missed Trail
|The Pine Hollow trail is a granny-gear climb for much of the way. You
follow a small creek up to the Great Western Trail. Here, you turn right
for the small loop You're now on the Salamander Flat Trail #150.
On the Great Western, you'll head south toward Salamander
Flat. You won't actually enter the Flat. Just before Salamander Flat,
you'll turn right at the 4-way after crossing the bridge to stay on Trail
#150. There are a
couple of short uphill sections on the GWT, but most of the cruising is
View on the Great Western trail
heading south toward Timpanogos.
As the GWT reaches a bridge in a narrow valley, turn right to the Timpooneke
parking area. Go to the road and turn left (west) uphill. Keep
on the main road, and it will turn to gravel.
After around 1-1/4 mile on the Timpooneke Road, you'll see a
sign on the right titled "East Fork Bear Canyon." There's a
narrow singletrack heading downhill. Jump on it. It's pretty nice at
We're starting down the Bear Canyon
trail. Ahead, it gets steeper and rockier.
|(You'll notice a less-used trail on the uphill side of the road.
Although I haven't taken this route, I believe it's the same trail that
forks off the Timpanogos Perimeter higher on the mountain. You can use
this as a longer ride. If you miss the Bear Canyon Trail high on the
mountain, you could continue on the Perimeter trail until you hit the Timpooneke
Road again, then backtrack a mile or so.)
Bear Canyon will test your downhill control skills. There
are some cruiser areas, but they're few. Many areas are rough and loose.
Switchbacks tend to be tight and bumpy. Scary to do fast, but with
boulders too big to creep around the turn slowly.
Near the bottom, there are many railroad-tie waterbars. Some are about
18 inches high, with depressions on the downside. Huck the front end well,
pilgrim. If you try a simple rollover, you'll end up face-first in the
rocks 10 feet down the trail.
Looking down a switchback. This is an
easy one. The hard areas were too hairy to stop and snap a picture.
||Clockwise short loop from Pine Hollow parking
0.0 Uphill out of parking lot, left onto ST before gate
N° 40 26.99 W 111° 38.58
1.9 Right on GWT
40° 26.77 W 111° 37.50
2.4 At 4-way, go R uphill N° 40
26.43 W° 111 37.62
2.6 On ridge, ignore trail going L downhill
3.2 Cross road N° 40 26.097
W° 111 37.827
3.3 Keep R
4.0 Cross creek, go
R N 40° 25.82 W
4.1 Arrive Timpooneke parking, go L uphill
N 40° 25.89 W 111° 38.40
Keep on main road (ignore
5.4 R on East Fork Bear Canyon
ST N 40° 26.08 W
5.6 Meet West Fork, go R downhill
N 40° 26.13 W 111° 39.05
7.6 Into Mutual Dell, L downhill
7.7 Cross road, find ST uphill
N 40° 26.90 W 111° 38.68
8.2 Arrive at road, go uphill N 40°
27.03 W 111° 38.70
8.3 At parking
We're looking back uphill as Jackie
enjoys a fairly typical section of the Bear Canyon trail.
|Longer ride options:
the GWT, go uphill to the Ridge Trail. Go R (south) to the summit parking.
Take Horse Flat down to the road. Go 200 feet L downhill and go L on GWT
(2) Just before the Timpooneke bathroom, turn L on a smaller trail. Follow the Timpanogos Perimeter
uphill a couple of miles, and find the Bear Canyon trail on the right.
(3) Go on Timpooneke as above, but continue past the first Bear Canyon
fork. Ride the steep uphill climbing the ridge. After crossing Julie
Andrews meadow, begin the descent. When you reach a trail fork and a GWT
sign, pick the less-prominent trail heading slightly uphill to your right.
(Straight ahead takes you a tiny distance to the Timpooneke Road; left is
the continuing Timpanogos Perimeter..) The trail on the right (Trail 179,
unmarked during my ride in 2006) will take you downhill to the West Fork
Trailhead on Timpooneke Road.
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, keep right at the fork and drive up the
south fork. Pass Mutual Dell (this is where you'll cross the road on your
return). Park at the Pine Hollow trailhead (restroom available).