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Jake the Snake Trail

Jake the Snake is a singletrack trail above The Ranches at Eagle Mountain. It climbs to the cell towers on the hill above the Pony Express Parkway. The trail is narrow and a bit rough. The ride is appropriate for upper-intermediate or better riders. The climbing can be handled by a strong early-intermediate, but the descent on the south limb could be a problem for a rider with poor skills.

Climbing northwest uphill on the north limb, with the Oquirrh Mountains in the background. Photos and ride description by Bruce on August 8, 2015.

The trail starts at around 4900 feet elevation and climbs about 350 vertical feet. It passes through sage brush and outcrops of limestone. There will be views in all directions -- looking out to the mountains of the Wasatch and the Oquirrh range. By either of my two recommended routes, you'll ride 1.2 miles of singletrack each way to the top of the tower.

Looking east past an outcrop of lichen-covered limestone. Across Utah Valley, the top of Cascade Mountain is hidden in clouds.

There are four ways that riders currently start their climb. You'll see these marked by the yellow dots on my map. I can only recommend two of these.
Not recommended:
(1) Horse path from north of the church on Pony Express Parkway.  This is the "official" route to the hill. Severely overgrown to the point of derailleur clogging.
(2)  Field route from the north (see map).  Avoids the overgrown initial portion of the horse path. But it's private property.
Recommended:
Uphill via Ruby Valley Drive.  Part of the climb is on paved road, intercepting the north limb of trail as it breaks free of homes and fields.
Direct from Pony Express Parkway.  Climbing on the south limb, the slope is stiff in spots. Meets the north limb 0.6 miles and 200 vertical from Pony Express.

Just below the cell towers.

My ride below puts part of the climb on Ruby Valley Drive, so it's a little less brutal. It puts the rough rock of the southern limb on the downhill as you complete a loop. The loop will be 0.6 pavement miles longer than a straight up-and-back.

Note:  The downhill end (and possibly the connection from Ruby Valley Drive) may be affected by future development. Local guys, please let me know if things change.

A look down at The Ranches of Eagle Mountain.

First, find a spot to park. There's a church parking lot near the horse path. You can start there and pedal the paved bike path on the north side of Pony Express Parkway to Ruby Valley Drive. Climb 0.5 miles on Ruby. As the road ends, keep straight and drop down to dirt road, then immediately veer left on the singletrack. You're on the north limb.

After 0.6 miles, fork right uphill for the climb to the towers. Another 0.6 miles gets you to the top (when the singletrack ends on doubletrack, turn left toward the antenna). From the top, descend back to the trail fork. Keep right to enter the south limb. Descend back to Pony Express, turning left (east) to close your loop.

The trail passes through two fins of tilted limestone. We're looking uphill on the south limb.

The rocks here are tilted, forming interesting outcrops that the trail passes through. Typical for the mountains of the Great Basin west of the Wasatch, these formations are significantly older than the rocks of the American Fork and Cottonwood canyons.

There are alternating bands of limestone, mudstone, and lightly metamorphosed sandstone. This suggests an ocean shoreline moving back and forth across the  middle of Utah. My best guess for when these sediments were deposited is the Mississippian Period, around 340 million years ago.

A border between limestone (top) and mudstone (bottom), with a band of hard white mineral between. I found fossil traces of soft-bodied critters in the mudstone, but didn't see any fossils in the limestone layers.

From the bottom of this trail, you can cross the road and connect to the Hidden Canyon singletrack. This climbs to the top of Eagle Mountain's bike park trail system.

Bottom Line:
Short but fun, once you figure out the navigation. Not a "destination ride" but satisfying. Something to do to round out a day of riding while in the area. See the Mountain Ranch Bike Park and Eagle Mountain Race Loop pages.

Riding notes, counterclockwise loop from Ruby:
0.0   Leave Parkway to climb Ruby Valley Dr
        N40 21.429 W111 59.225
        Keep straight at intersections
0.5   Road ends, forward and down to DT
        Immediate L on ST (north limb)
        N40 21.739 W111 59.592
1.1   R uphill towards tower
        N40 21.638 W111 59.681
1.6   L on DT N40 21.659 W111 59.907
1.7   At tower, head back
        N40 21.584 W111 59.863
2.3   Fork R for south limb
        N40 21.639 W111 59.692
2.9   At Parkway, turn L
        N40 21.400 W111 59.327
3.0   Back at Ruby Valley Dr
Getting there:
Take the I-15 Lehi Main Street exit and turn west. Continue west on SR-73, crossing Redwood Road (11600 West). Continue westbound uphill. Just after climbing the hill, turn left at the stop light onto The Ranches Parkway. At Pony Express Parkway, turn right. When you see that the road will veer to the left in front of a church, turn right and find a spot to park north of the church. To get to Ruby Valley Drive (or the south limb singletrack on Pony Express Parkway), pedal further west along Pony Express on the paved bike path on the north side of the road.

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Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files and route (right-click and "Save as..."):
      Jake the Snake trail track  
      Multi-track GPX area file
High-res area topo map for printing:   View topo
Lodging, camping, shops:    Links to Provo area resources

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