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Mill Canyon Peak Loop

The loop around Mill Canyon Peak is a VERY tough ride. It includes about a mile of extreme steep on the east side of Mill Canyon Peak -- absolutely unrideable uphill, and a highly technical challenge to ride downhill. And there are many other vicious spots. Don't even dream of riding this loop unless you consider yourself a very strong and highly skilled rider.

View from Mill Canyon Peak, looking towards Deer Creek (left) and the North Fork of Provo Canyon (right). Photos July, 2002.

The payoff? Well, you'll own the right to brag if you can keep your steed upright for the spooky descent. But this is a beautiful ride! The East Side Ridge Trail takes you through some of the prettiest forest in Utah, with absolute eye-popping views over AF Canyon, Deer Creek, and Heber Valley.

The trail climbs through broken forest of Douglas fir and quaking aspen, with a carpet of ferns and elderberry in the understory.

If you begin the ride at Tibble Fork Reservoir, you'll climb 3300 vertical feet, with a total ride of 25.6 miles. The North Fork road is 8.3 miles each way, and the singletrack loop is almost exactly 9 miles.

If you take the SUV up to Pole Line Pass, your ride will be 9 miles with 1200 vertical of climbing. But even the shorter ride will kick your butt. I guarantee it.

Looking towards Mill Canyon Peak from the East Side Ridge Trail.

My suggestion is to ride the loop counterclockwise, starting on Ridge 157 past Forest Lake, then up to Rock Spring. Yes, the loop is still hard that direction, and you'll still have to push your bike up some ugly but short steeps on the East Side Ridge Trail.

Delphinium (blue fountain) towers above the other flowers along the trail.

After Rock Spring, you'll fork left and climb up over the ridge on the south end of Mill Canyon Peak. After a short traverse along an erosion trench, you'll encounter a horrendous descent. But it's easier downhill than up. Drop your seat. Put your butt back over the rear wheel, work the brakes carefully, and surf your way down.

Rock Spring. About 100 feet south of the spring is the trail fork to the East Side Ridge Trail.

This southeastern corner of the loop is brutal. You may walk more than you ride. Eroded loose steep rocky rooty trench up the fall line; steep loose plunge down the other side when you reach the top. And you'll encounter a second long slippery loose steep descent about a mile past the first plunge. Ride what you can, walk the rest.

Climbing up and over another small ridge on the East Side Ridge Trail. It's steeper than it looks. Do NOT ride this trail unless you're a strong expert!

I've been accused of not properly warning bikers how tough a trail really is. The East Side Ridge Trail is the hardest trail in AF Canyon. It's brutal. It's painful. There are highly technical and difficult spots. Don't go on this trail unless you're prepared for some really ugly, loose steeps -- both uphill and downhill.

View of the mountains northwest of Ridge 157. We're looking toward Snowbird.

Ride Notes, counterclockwise:
0.0   From the parking area at Tibble Fork, go straight onto dirt road, heading up along the river
4.4   Dutchman Flat
5.3   Keep right (straight) for Pole Line Pass (left = Mineral Basin)
8.3   At Pole Line Pass. Find the Ridge Trail singletrack on your right.
       (After crossing clearing, road continues slightly uphill - if you start downhill, backtrack)
8.85 Fork R (L = return trail)
11.4 Forest Lake trail drops off on R, go straight
        (The Forest Lake Trail drops down to the lake, then joins a very rough doubletrack back to Dutchman Flat)
12.5 At Rock Spring. Fork L just past the spring, continue uphill
13.1 Crest of hill, trail turns northward
13.3 Begin spooky, ugly, hairy descent
14.1 Keep R at fork
15.4 Keep R at fork
16.7 Keep L (straight - don't descend)
17.4 Back at first fork, keep straight
17.9 Back at Pole Line Pass, turn L on road
25.6 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 up along the river. To ride the loop without the road, drive 8 miles up the rough road to Pole Line Pass, keeping right at the fork at mile 5.3.

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files and route (right-click and "Save as...")
for the loop ride starting at Pole Line Pass:
   Garmin     Nat Geo     Google Earth    GPX
Medium res topo map:    view
High-res topo map (1.3 MB):   view
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to north Utah County resources

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