This classic 6.6-mile singletrack loop is great fun, and not too
tricky. Like the Timpooneke
Loop and the Tibble Fork Loop, this trail uses a portion of Ridge Trail 157 as its middle section.
There's about 1200 vertical feet of elevation gain for the entire loop.
Some South Fork portions of
the trail are narrow with elevated sidewalls, requiring good bike
handling. The Ridge Trail portion is wide and well-traveled, but is the
toughest part of the ride..
View north from the first section of the South Fork trail.
Beginning elevation is 6900 feet. Original review and photos October 2, 1999 by Bruce.
Latest update August 18, 2018.
There are two trailheads for the loop itself: the
Alpine Loop summit trailhead and Elk Glen (a primitive camp that connects
to the loop via a short spur).
Many riders make the loop a lariat by starting from trailheads at Timpooneke,
Salamander Flat, or Pine Hollow, then pedaling
uphill to the loop.
View of the trail as it skirts a meadow on the way to the
Alpine Loop summit. Some spots have sunken narrow trail, requiring good handlebar
action to keep on track. October 2, 1999
A trip down memory lane! Riding DCSF in 2002 with Jackie...
Many riders begin the ride from Elk Glen on 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 Glen (aka 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
Heading uphill from Elk Glen.
Deer Creek South Fork uphill
Watch for deer and moose, especially in early morning or
late evening. As you climb uphill from Elk Glen, you'll pass through three meadows.
This area tends to be relatively more wet than other trails in American
Fork Canyon. If you encounter mud, turn around and find somewhere else to
Much of the climb is smooth ribbon winding through
When you reach a gravel road, look
for the continuing trail straight ahead. You'll come out on the Alpine Loop
paved road, right at the intersection with the Cascade Springs road. Straight ahead across the road is the continuation of the
Deer Creek South Fork trail.
Climb up to a trail fork and turn right. (To the left is the Lame
Horse trail. It descends to Aspen Grove.) 1/10th mile later, you'll
arrive at the Alpine Loop summit parking area.
Almost to the top. The moisture and rich soil in this area results
in tall ferns and huge berry bushes.
Ridge 157 Trail
Veer to the right in the paved circle at the trailhead. Take
the trail near the entry road, on your right, marked by an official trail
sign. Pedal 60 feet, then cross the Alpine Loop road to the Ridge 157
On the Ridge trail, you'll reach the ride's highest elevation of 8100
Portions of the Ridge trail are bumpy.
The ridgeline is the remains of a col, a 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
The first trail fork on the Ridge trail comes in about a
mile. To your left is the Ridge Connector. Keep right to stay on the
Ridge. At mile 1.3, keep right again as the Pine Hollow trail joins on the
Bruce rolls up to the classic viewpoint on the Ridge
trail. This comes just before you descend down to Mud Springs.
Take in the views, and note the difference in the mountains
north and south. 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 -- as seen on Mt. Timpanogos) gives way to granite in the Lone Peak-Little Cottonwood area.
There are several spots where you can get a good look
at the mountains.
At mile 2.2, turn right uphill at the fork with Mud Springs.
A short bit of tough climbing here.
Three miles from the summit trailhead, you'll reach a 4-way trail
Ridge trail continues straight; Tibble Fork is on your left.) Go right downhill.
Heading up the last of many climbs on the Ridge
trail. Almost there.
Deer Creek South Fork downhill
The trail now begins a steady descent into the South Fork of Deer
Creek. At first, it's the usual aspens, with a smattering of oak and
Rounding the first turn below the ridge.
After the first turn, the trail drops into a forest of tall evergreens. There are
a few root drops, nothing more than 10-12 inches. This section of the
trail is pretty buff.
After a short climb, the trail re-enters forest of oak, maple and aspen
as it curves around to the sunny side of the hill.
trail through fir forest.
When the trail reaches the Cascade Springs road, cross to
the continuing trail. In around a tenth of a mile, you'll hit the spur to
Elk Glen. If that's where you started, make a hard left downhill to return
to your car.
Almost at the end of the deep forest. A quick little
uphill, then more descending down to the Cascade Springs road.
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. The Mad Scientist's bike "Banana Thunder"
sits among bitterbrush in the foreground. October 2, 1999
Bottom Line: This is one of the greatest little loop trails
anywhere. Since discovering Deer Creek South Fork we can't get enough of it. And, lucky you, we're sharing our
Bruce posts a turn on the Ridge Trail near the descent into Deer Creek South
Fork on June 30, 1999. Photo by Dominic Bria.
Deer Creek South Fork Loop
If the above video does not appear on your
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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.
multiple improved and primitive campsites in AF Canyon
Bathroom: Summit trailhead
Water: developed campgrounds