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Big Spring Hollow

The Big Spring Hollow trail is a short but sweet singletrack in the South Fork of Provo Canyon. The main trail is an easy ride for conditioned beginners. More difficult options can be added on. At a fairly low altitude for an alpine trail (5700 feet), this trail opens in late spring for early-season riding.

Looking over a meadow toward Cascade Mountain, this view says it all. What a nice ride. Original review and photos by Bruce in May 2002. Latest update June 28, 2017.

The trail is usually clear of snow in early May, and remains open through October. Because it's only 10 miles from Provo and Orem, this is a perfect "quick ride" after work, or an early Saturday cheater ride before you tackle those chores.

Handlebar view along the trail as we approach Big Spring. Yeah, it's pretty.

Most of the Big Spring trail is buffed smooth, and is a delight to ride. The rate of climb is very tolerable, but less-strong intermediate riders may need to take a breather or two on the way up. There's no tricky stuff.

Just a bit uphill from the parking lot.

The trail starts in Big Spring Park, three miles up the south fork road in Provo Canyon. After turning off the main road into Big Spring Park, drive past the smaller roadside parking strips as you go west uphill. The large parking lot at the top is your destination.

View west on the lower trail.

Pedal out of the parking lot northbound and cross the creek. The trail will turn west and climb gently. This lower area has cottonwood, box elder, willow and maple.

Further uphill, we're passing through small groves of aspen.

The trail will meander back and forth across small seeps and springs. You'll cross the creek several times on wooden bridges. The first mile is easy riding.  Wildflowers include penstemmon, oregon grape, clematis, and balsamroot.

One of the ride's highlights is the big meadow. You'll know when you're there. Always worth a photo. For beginning riders and kids, this is a good spot to say "we're done" and turn around.

Alex, age 16, climbs through multiple small meadows as the trail winds gradually upward. June 1, 2007.

As the trail climbs west up the canyon, it joins a doubletrack for about 50 feet as it crosses the creek. From here, the pitch of the singletrack becomes gradually steeper. The maples are joined by aspen, choke cherry, and elderberry. A few Douglas fir appear near the top. 

Drone view of the big meadow.

The lariat loop ride described below is 3.5 miles, with easier trail on the main route and intermediate technical singletrack on the southern limb of the loop. Altitude gain is 750 feet.

For a clockwise ride, fork left on a much smaller trail 0.9 miles from the main parking lot. Most riders will continue straight up the main trail. At mile 1.5, you'll hit a T intersection. On your right is the continuing trail up to Big Springs and the Cascade Saddle. To the left, the horse-route joins -- and this is your way down if you're doing the loop. It's also your way to the Great Western for Windy Pass.

Lush greenery in June.

 

At the trail fork, you might want to roll another 0.2 miles up the trail to see Big Springs. The spring area is covered with wooden planking. (The spring is dry during summer in drought years.)

If you do the loop (instead of an out-and-back) counterclockwise, you'll keep left at the trail forks until you arrive back at the outgoing trail.

Bruce rolls through a turn on the trail.

 

 If the above video does not appear on your browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking here.

Riding Notes:
0.0   Leave far end of parking area, and immediately
        turn left uphill
0.85 Fork - for clockwise look, go L
0.9   Meet doubletrack, singletrack goes L 20 ft uphill
1.1  Fork, keep R (L goes to Great Western Trail)
1.2  Fork, go L (R goes through meadow, rejoins)
1.45 (Meadow trail rejoins on R)
1.8  Fork, go R for loop GPS N 40 18.957' W 111 32.313'
       (straight 0.2 to springs, or 3.5 tough climb to
       Cascade Saddle)
2.25 Merge doubletrack, singletrack on L after creek
2.6  Back at first fork
3.5  At parking lot.

Looking up the creek as we cross one of the many wooden bridges that span the wet stuff.

Other options: 

Cascade Saddle:  At the top of the loop, a trail continues uphill. Although the first half-mile seems inviting, the trail turns loose, steep, and tough. This trail goes to the Cascade Saddle, and it will climb a brutal 2500 feet in 3.5 miles. The loose rock makes the uphill difficult even for an advanced rider. The descent often involves surfing in horse-churned rocks. But it's pretty.

 View about 2 miles up the Cascade Saddle trail, and still climbing. I didn't make it to the saddle -- snow turned me back at 8200 ft. May 20, 2002.

Great Western:  At mile 1.1 on the loop, going left at the fork takes you to the Great Western, which climbs up to Windy Pass, then on to the north side of Bald Knoll. After Bald Knoll, the Great Western connects to forest road 121, which drops down into the town of Wallsburg. This is a long and somewhat mean climb, with peak altitude of 9200 feet. (Remember you're starting at 5700. That's 3500 feet of climbing, dudes.) If you're up for it, we've mapped the route to the pass on the Windy Pass page.

Clematis blossoms, about 2 inches in size, hang from vines among the aspens.

Getting there: In Provo Canyon, turn south (right if you're going uphill) on the South Fork road at Vivian Park. Drive 3.1 miles and turn right at the National Forest access. Go to the big parking lot at the end of the paved road -- about 0.1 mile. (If the gate on this road is closed, park here and ride up the paved road.) The singletrack trail starts at the hole in the fence at the north end of the parking lot, west of the big picnic pavillion. GPS N 40 19.952' W 111 31.487'.
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
       GPX loop ride as above
Large-format topo map:  download
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to Provo Canyon resources

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Updated 2017