Deer Creek South Fork Loop
This 6.6-mile singletrack loop is great fun, and not too
tricky. There's about 1200 vertical feet of elevation gain, split between the first and
middle sections of the trail. Like the Timpooneke
Loop and the Tibble Fork Loop, this trail uses a portion of Ridge Trail 157 as its middle section. The South Fork portions of
the trail are quite narrow (around 18 inches) with elevated sidewalls, requiring good bike
handling. The Ridge Trail portion is wide and well-travelled.
View north from the first section of the South Fork trail.
Beginning elevation is 6900 feet. Photos October 2, 1999 by Bruce
Many riders begin the ride from the Cascade Springs
Road in the North Fork of Provo Canyon. That way, you complete 1.75 miles of steady uphill
right away. Beginning from the Elk Camp parking area on the south side of the road,
ride uphill 1/4 mile and join the DCSF trail. Keep straight and uphill. The narrow singletrack trail climbs gently, passing through meadows between aspen
View of the trail as it skirts a meadow on the way to the
Alpine Loop summit. Although the trail isn't tricky, it's narrow, requiring good handlebar
action to keep on track. October 2, 1999
|Moose and deer are present in the early morning. When you reach the gravel road, look
for the continuing trail straight ahead. You'll come out right at the paved road
intersection. Straight ahead is the continuation of the trail, which will take you up to
the Alpine Loop summit parking area.
||On the north end of the parking lot (GPS N 40° 25.837' W 111° 36.837'),
to your right as you bike into the parking area from the trail), is Ridge Trail 157. Head
out on the trail, across the road and up the hill. After following the Ridge Trail for 3
miles (be sure to catch the right turn at Mud Springs), the Deer Creek South Fork trail
branches off to the east (your right) at a 4-way intersection where Ridge 157 meets the
Tibble Fork Trail (left) at GPS N 40° 27.918' W 111° 36.532'.
Jackie, the Doc's terrier, stands guard over the Powerbars
she knows are in the backpack.
As the South Fork trail reaches the ridgeline, stop and look south at the
awesome views of Timpanogos and the saddle between American Fork Canyon and Provo Canyon.
Then zip down a curving narrow singletrack that's absolutely incredible. When you reach
the paved road, find the parking area where you started -- right across the road.
Dominic Bria, part-owner of
Mad Scientist Software, exults on the ridgeline, with Mount Timpanogos in the background.
Highest elevation on this ride is 8100 feet. Photo June 30, 1999 by Bruce
|The ridgeline is the remains of a col, a sharp fin left standing between an
eastward-flowing and a westward-flowing glacier. Glaciers, dating from the last
Ice Age, are responsible for many of the flat-bottom, rounded valleys in the
higher Wasatch. The American Fork Canyon area falls on the edge of a massive
igneous rock intrusion, where the sedimentary limestone (Oquirrh formation from
the Pennsylvannian Era, 300 million years ago, seen on Mt. Timpanogos, and the
older Mississippian Limestone on the tall gray walls of American Fork Canyon)
gives way to granite in the Lone Peak-Little Cottonwood area. The igneous rock
of 26 million years ago brought with it minerals that left deposits in the
Mineral Basin area of American Fork Canyon and (later) the Park City area.
||Portions of the trail are usually snowbound until mid June. Snow usually
covers the trail again in late October, but even then, hard-core riders can be found
thrashing the snow on the Ridge. Late September is an excellent time to ride this trail,
as the fall colors change.
View over the aspens and spruces
towards Mount Timpanogos. Awesome! The Mad Scientist's bike "Banana Thunder"
sits among bitterbrush in the foreground. October 2, 1999
|An excellent riding option is to begin at the Timpooneke campground (see
the Timpooneke Loop), ride up the Great Western
(Salamander Flat Trail #150) and continue uphill on the Pine
Hollow Trail to Ridge 157 (2.6 miles) and turn left. Then you ride the loop: north 1.5 miles to
the South Fork trail, right 1.5 miles to the bottom of the canyon, then up 1.75 miles to
the top of the Alpine Loop. Now ride the southern part of the Ridge Trail back to the
Great Western/Pine Hollow trial, and back to Timpooneke. Your total distance will be 12
miles, with around 2400 vertical feet total climbing.
Air Time! Matt Flygare launches off a rock on the
descending limb of the Deer Creek South Fork Trail. October 9, 1999 by Bruce.
Even in November and early December, fanatic bikers can still grab rides on this
trail. In fact, some of the most fun mountain riding is when you combine hardpack trail,
a couple of inches of soft Utah powder snow, a few icy patches. For the
ascent up the southern end of the South Fork trail, we recommend early morning while the
ground is still frozen hard -- you don't want to bog down in mud or leave
big ruts in the trail.
the rock in the picture above? Here Mike Engberson
(UtahMountainBiking.com's CEO) flies up into
the crisp November air.
This photo available as wallpaper.
|Bottom Line: This is one of the greatest little loop trails we've found
anywhere. Since discovering this trail (which is not described on other web sites nor in
mountain biking books) we can't get enough of it. And, lucky you, we're sharing our
The Mad Scientist
aka Doc A posts a turn on the Ridge Trail near the descent into Deer Creek South
Fork. Photo June 30, 1999 by Dominic Bria.
A similar photo is available as wallpaper.
||Getting there: (Cascade Springs Road trailhead) 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 right at the North Fork junction. Drive up to the summit of the
Alpine Loop. (The summit trailhead is on your right just before you reach the
top of the loop.) For the lower trailhead, drive further to the
Cascade Springs Road, where you'll turn left. About 1.5 miles later, turn right on a
gravel road and go 100 feet. The trailhead is in the trees straight ahead. GPS N 40° 26.801' W 111° 36.489.