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Mercer Canyon (Lake Mountain Summit)

Mercer Canyon (Lake Mountain Summit) is not going to become your favorite ride.  The gravel road to the top of Lake Mountain is unexciting for an experienced biker, but is a bit too much climbing for a family ride. 

View northward towards the Oquirrh Mountains. Photos by Bruce, May 2004.

Perhaps the best use of Mercer Canyon is as a training ride to crank out some vertical during the early season. But there's a nice view at the top (altitude 7600 feet), and if you like exploring new places, go try it.

This route is easy technically, but fairly strenuous aerobically. Depending on your appetite for miles, we'll suggest two variations of this ride: (1) Park off U-68, as below, for a 21.6-mile out-and-back, with 3000 vertical feet of climbing. (2) Follow the riding directions in your car to mile 5.2, then turn left to park on the south end of the open-pit mine, for a 10.6-mile, 2000-vertical ride.

Dominic climbs away from Cedar Valley.

 

Mercer Canyon climbs from sagebrush plain to juniper, then to oak, then to aspen. The slope is a very do-able 8%, but is steady and unrelenting. All but the most intense hammerheads should plan a few stops along the way. In mid-summer, the ride is going to be hot hot hot.

Looking back near the top. The white strip is snow.

At the top, you can look east over Utah Lake to the Wasatch Front. This is the highlight of the trip. After a few oohs and aahs, turn and bomb back down. (You can complete a loop by riding north down Israel Canyon to the highway, but the upper 3 miles of this route slope down at a brake-smoking 700-vertical-feet per mile.)

Jackie, who's happy as a clam after 16 miles, greets Dom as he nears the radio towers.

Riding notes, starting at highway:
0.0   Start west on dirt road
        GPS N 40 10.250' W 111 56.017'
3.1   Cross Soldier's Pass
3.2   R onto smaller road
        GPS N 40 11.968' W 111 58.184'
3.9   Fork R, N 40 12.267' W 111 58.706'
4.9   Keep R, N 40 12.781' W 111 57.997'
5.2   Keep R (L = open-pit mine)
        N 40 12.958' W 111 57.766'
       (If starting from the mine, head northeast uphill
       40 13.149' W 111 57.692',
        on ST 0.3 miles to road meet road at 5.7)
5.7   Trail in from mine on L
        N 40 13.135' W 111 57.357'
10.7 Keep L
10.8 Fork R off main road
        N 40 16.645' W 111 56.254'
        uphill 100 ft, R again, up to view at ridgetop

View east over the handlebars. The puddle, of course, is Utah Lake. Timpanogos is left center, Provo Peak is right center, Cascade Mountain is far right.

Lodging, camping, shops: Links to Provo area resources

Getting there:  From the intersection where U-73 meets U-68 (about 5 miles west of Lehi), turn south on U-68. Drive 19 miles south. (Ignore multiple smaller dirt and gravel roads along the mountain.) As you near the south end of Lake Mountain, watch for a fairly large gravel road on your right that has a stop sign, GPS N 40 10.250' W 111 56.017'. Park here and ride west on the gravel road.