Flat Trail begins at the Alpine Loop
Summit parking lot. The trail climbs up the saddle between the North Fork
of Provo Canyon and the South Fork of American Fork Canyon, to a grassy
area called Horse Flat. This ride is an out-and-back. The Horse Flat Loop
starts on the Horse Flat trail for 1/2 mile, then descends the Snow Gage Trail in a narrow
twisting downhill to join the Great Western.
initial climb, the trail's slope is gradual. That's Timpanogos peeking
over the ridge as we ride toward Horse Flat. Photo Sept. 30, 1999.
Horse Flat out-and-back
The Horse Flat trail climbs through fir forest and aspen groves, with
occasional flat meadows. In the meadows, you have views of surrounding peaks such as
Timpanogos, Box Elder Peak, and Pfeiferhorn. Most of the
trail is hardpack dirt with the occasional root or rock. The round trip is
2.5 miles, and you'll climb 400 vertical feet over the 1.25 miles from the
Summit parking area to Horse Flat.
We're looking northwest. That's Box
Elder that's the highest. Pfeiferhorn and Chipman Peak are partially
obscured by trees.
At Horse Flat, there are some trails you might be tempted to
explore. Go ahead, but they really don't go anywhere. Once you reach the
big meadow with the "Horse Flat" sign (see photo), you're there.
N 40° 25.194 W 111° 37.278. Have a picnic in the meadow, then head back.
Or, visit Horse Flat then double back to ride the loop below.
Horse Flat is a popular
"suncrust" riding area during the late winter!
If the above video does not appear on your
browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking
Left: Banana Thunder rests
against the Horse Flat sign.
Right: Jackie waits for the
bike to get moving again.
Horse Flat Loop
First, the Horse Flat Loop does NOT go through Horse Flat. Start uphill
on the Horse Flat trail. At 0.5 miles, notice a smaller trail forking
right. This is the Snow Gauging Trail. The fork will be just before a big meadow, where there's a pond in
early summer (June). If you make a brutal rough switchback climb through
fir trees, you passed the fork.
There are several ways to make a loop out of the Horse Flat downhill.
The route I describe here is the quickest. This loop is 3.4 miles, but
isn't a particular fast ride. I'd rate it upper-intermediate to advanced,
because the descent is narrow and twisting with a lot of log-hops, and the
climb up Willow Hollow #159 is pretty stiff.
Getting started up the Horse Flat
trail. Aspen groves alternate with meadows. Mount Timpanogos is peeking
over the aspens. Photo June 7, 2006.
After a half mile of climbing with 150 feet vertical, you'll
fork onto a narrow twisting descent. Good log-hopping skills help here.
There are countless small logs across the trail. The trail reaches the Alpine Loop road just uphill from
where the GWT crosses the road.
Left: View downhill through the aspens. The
trail is narrow and twisting.
Right: Sample logs on the Snow Gauging Trail. Pop up the handlebars to
get the front wheel over, then throw your weight forward so the rear wheel
doesn't pinch-flat as it bounces over the log.
Go straight across the road (past the metal gate),
and the trail will join the GWT. From here, loop options include (1) climbing
Pine Hollow to Ridge 157 then turning right (southbound) versus heading
left (north) on Ridge 157 and dropping
down South Fork before climbing back to the summit, (2) climbing the Ridge
Connector #216 trail then turning right on Ridge 157, or (3) climbing up the
Willow Hollow Trail #159 (often referred to as the "Summit
We're climbing the Summit Trail to
complete the loop.
Riding notes, clockwise loop, return via
Willow Hollow Trail:
0.0 At summit parking, go to west side to find trail
N 40° 25.838 W 111° 36.869
Immediately fork L uphill on
Horse Flat trail
0.5 Fork R and begin descent on Snow Gage Trail
N 40° 25.687 W 111° 37.105
1.6 Cross paved road, go around metal gate
N 40° 26.110 W 111° 37.754
Join GWT 100 yards later
2.0 Keep straight (R = Salamander Flat)
2.1 4-way, go straight across
R = camping, L = Pine Hollow
N 40° 26.485 W 111° 37.710
2.3 Keep straight on Willow Hollow (L = Ridge Connector)
2.6 Cross road, veer R over stream onto ST
N 40° 26.361 W 111° 37.334
3.4 At parking.
View of Mount Timpanogos rising up
above the Summit Trail on the return voyage.
Loop Trailhead: From I-15, take the Alpine-Highland exit and drive 7
miles to the mouth of American Fork Canyon. Pay your $6 fee (as of 2009) there. Five miles later at the
fork in the road, go right along the south fork of the river and climb to the summit. There's a
parking lot on your right just before the top of the ridge. From parking,
find the trail on the west side of the loop (the side that overlooks AF Canyon). Go
about 10 feet down this trail, then turn left and begin climbing uphill
Springs/GWT at bottom of loop: Drive up the South Fork of
American Fork Canyon as above. When you reach the "T"
intersection for the Timpooneke Campground, go left. About 1/2 mile later,
watch for a small parking area on the right side of the road, with a
"trail crossing" sign. You can start on the GWT, or go 150 feet
up the road to find where the downhill trail crosses the road. N
40° 26.110 W 111° 37.754