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Horse Flat Trail 
Horse Flat Loop

The Horse 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.

After an 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 here.

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 Trail".

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 GWT
        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.

Getting there:
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 (south).

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
Riding Resources for Horse Flat:
  Large-format Topo map:  View map
  Single-page riding guide for printing.
  Lodging, camping, shops:
     Links to AF Canyon resources
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
     Garmin     National Geographic     Google Earth 
     GPX Horse Flat    GPX Horse Flat Loop

Copyright 2006 Mad Scientist Software Inc