||Holman Trail (AF Canyon)
Of several different downhill routes from Ridge 157, the Holman Trail
is the meanest. If you do only the upper half, then drop onto the Old
Trench Road Trail (171) to Mill Canyon, it's not bad. Still highly
technical; still a tough ride. But if you stick with the Holman Trail all
the way to the North Fork Road, you're in for one punishing
Seriously, folks, this isn't a ride to take lightly. High-experts only!
You've got big vertical (3200 absolute elevation change, total 3900
climbing). There's a steep descent with advanced tech riding on upper
Holman, plus some more climbing. Lower Holman is ugly, and should only be
considered by those looking for an extreme challenge.
On lower Holman, this is the easy
part. We're descending into North Fork on narrow rocky trail. In many
spots, the mountainside falls away from the trail with cliff-like
steepness. Yes, the mountains are pretty. Photos September 27, 2006.
|The ride I describe here starts at Tibble Fork Reservoir.
It's 18.6 miles. It will take several hours even for a strong rider to
finish this loop. Snow on Ridge 157 usually limits riding to July through
You'll climb just over 8 miles to Pole Line Pass. The rocky dirt road
gets a little rougher, steeper, and narrower as you approach the pass.
Nice training ride...
We're heading northeast on the North
Fork Road at Dutchman Flat, approaching Silver Fork. This is the smoothest
section of road.
||Arriving at Pole Line Pass, we turn right onto singletrack.
This is Ridge Trail 157. From here to Forest Lake, it's a fun singletrack
cruise. Well, yes, there's that one steep hill -- torn up by motorcycles
-- after the first 1/4 mile, but it's short and quickly walked.
View from Ridge Trail 157, looking
On Ridge 157, you'll cruise through
aspen and fir forest,
with frequent breakouts for awesome views.
Looking back northwest again, the
receded as we look over the bowl containing Forest Lake.
After Forest Lake, the trail will climb to 9500 feet. The
section between Forest Lake and the Trail 181 fork is the most technical
section of the Ridge Trail. Steep ups and downs, talus rock, and tight
spots. And because this area is in the shade most of the year, early or
late snows stick around to make life more challenging.
Last week's September snowstorm sits
on the trail, making the riding a bit more interesting...
|After passing the 181 fork, you'll climb gently toward Rock
Spring. (But if you actually arrive at the spring, you missed your trail
fork.) The Holman Trail drops off to the right just as the trail turns
left in a rocky section above the spring.
The trail starts out nicely enough. Then it turns from northwest to
southwest and drops at a 20% slope for 1/2 mile. After mellowing out,
guess what? You get to climb up and down, but mostly up, on narrow
On the Ridge Trail, we're heading
||You'll join Trail 181 (Old Trench Road) for 1/2 mile. As the
trails split again, if you have any brains at all, you'll go left and NOT
ride lower Holman. (Left takes you down to the Mill Canyon Trail, where
you descend to Tibble Fork.)
Looking down-canyon on a mellow
section of the upper Holman trail.
Do NOT go down lower Holman unless you're very skilled at
controlling a bike in a steep skid, expert at precise route-picking to
avoid big rocks and roots, and fearless enough to maintain downhill speed
to bang through the rough stuff without an endo. You don't need a DH bike
-- precise handling of a light XC bike works fine.
Getting a little steeper, a little
|If you decide you're going down lower Holman, be prepared
for some very unforgiving trail. Rocks, roots, loose riding surface, and
long steeps. Give yourself plenty of time. This isn't a quick
"plunge." There are bits of steep uphill, too.
Why ride it? Well, it's great practice at bike control. But will you
think it's fun? No. It's a nasty trail.
Several springs cross the trail. In a
couple of spots, the trail has "captured" the water, so it runs
straight down the trail. In one case on lower Holman, there's a 50-foot
steep uphill where riding's impossible. You hike uphill through a tiny
rocky slippery creek-bed.
|During one 0.8 mile section, the trail drops at a 25%
average slope. Rock outcrops, roots, and steep trenches. In many areas,
you simply can't stop without getting hurt. You've got to let the bike
Mercifully, the trail mellows out just before joining doubletrack for
the final drop to the North Fork Road.
We've reached the ridgetop above
Tibble Fork, but we'll turn northeast into the North Fork canyon,
eventually riding along hillside so steep it's essentially cliff.
A couple of sample trail shots. Loose
and embedded rock;
twisting trail with blind corners. Get too close to the
sidewalls and a root grabs your pedal.
In many areas, the trail is deeply
trenched. Here it's about
2 feet deep, which is typical. It's steeper than it looks! While
this may look flat, it's really a tire-skidding 25% downslope.
|Ride Notes, loop from Tibble Fork
0.0 Go straight onto dirt North Fork road
4.3 Dutchman Flat
5.1 Keep right (left = Mineral Basin)
8.0 At Pole Line Pass. Find ST Ridge Trail 157 on R.
N 40° 31.901 W 111°
8.6 Fork R (L = Pot Hollow)
N 40° 31.404 W 111°
10.3 L uphill (R=Forest Lake), begin ugly section
N40 30.347 W111 34.861
10.9 Keep L uphill at both Trail 181 forks
N40 30.029 W111 35.182
11.8 Fork R downhill on Holman Trail
N40 29.472 W111 34.938
(If you get to Rock
Spring, you missed it)
|14.2 Keep straight as 181 joins on R
N40 29.344 W111 36.559
14.7 Fork R for continued Holman
N40 29.150 W111 36.740
OR, Fork L for Old
Trench Trail to Mill Canyon
15.1 Keep straight (L) at fork
N40 29.161 W111 37.050
15.8 Begin steep plunge x 0.8 mi
16.8 L downhill on doubletrack
N40 29.590 W111 38.088
17.2 L on North Fork Road
N40 29.946 W111 38.167
18.6 Back at Tibble Fork
||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. Park, then ride straight past the
outhouse onto the gravel road that heads up along the river.
Alternatively, for a shuttled ride, drive up the North Fork Road 8 miles
to Pole Line Pass.