Orem Bench to Great Western,
with links to Orem Section, Bonneville Shoreline Trail
|This trail is low altitude, offering rides just about anytime. January and February are hit-and-miss, but a determined biker can usually find a dry day during the January thaw to ride here.|
Photo above: View of Mount Timpanogos from the trail.
Timpanogos is entirely formed of limestone of the Pennsylvanian Period
(320 million years ago) when Utah was covered by ocean.
The loop trail is a combination of easy double-track (Orem High Bench Road), gnarly single-track (Great Western Trail), and paved recreation path (Provo River Parkway). Most riders start from the Orem trailhead, because this section of the Great Western can be a challenging uphill. Starting altitude is 4900 feet. Vertical climb is 600 feet, distance (loop) is 10.5 miles. Out-and-back on the dirt portion is 9.2 miles.
The western end of the trail connects directly to the Orem section of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail about 100 yards west of the gate on the end of the High Bench Road. This is a new singletrack cut now extends along the foothills Dry Canyon, then on to Battle Creek in Pleasant Grove.
|In mid-summer, this foothill area will be hot hot hot. But in spring and
fall, the temperatures are very pleasant. You'll be riding mostly through grass with
clusters of oak and bitterbrush. Here and there in cooler corners, choke cherry,
elderberry, and maple are found.
Two riders head into Provo Canyon on the Great Western Trail. The bands of rock across the canyon are Pennsylvanian limestone of the Oquirrh formation. September 6, 1999
|Coming from Orem, ride the road until you arrive at a steel gate. Turn right downhill, where you'll encounter a second steel gate. Immediately past the gate, the Great Western Trail (singletrack) forks off to the left. At the ST fork a mile later, go R. Follow the ST down to the pipeline. Turn right onto the pipeline, then 30 feet later, drop down the singletrack that forks off on the left. (Download the GPX file below for waypoints and track.)|
|Photo above: Jackie looks towards Utah Valley. The trail will run above the cliffs you see in the background. These cliffs are formed of conglomerate laid down as alluvial deposits during the early days of Lake Bonneville. September 6, 1999|
|Riding uphill from Canyon Glen, take the first right turn to switch back. Arriving at
the pipe, go east 20 feet past it and find the trail that heads uphill to the west.
Immediately on top of the ridge, take the left fork in the trail (the right fork dead-ends
in the shallow valley on the other side of the ridge). When you reach double-track, turn
right, then turn left onto the Bench Road when you reach the second gate. Riding
this direction, there are some steep loose uphills on ST, OK for experts
but tough for everybody else.
Heartleaf arrowroot blooms in the spring sunshine on the Orem Bench. Photo April 2002.
Orem Bonneville Shoreline: From the trailhead (see below) on the Orem Bench, ride north. Click here for the Bonneville Shoreline trail page for Orem to Pleasant Grove.
Looking west towards the northern end of Utah Lake and the Oquirrh Mountains from the Bonneville Shoreline. Photo April 2002.
|Other good stuff in the area: Provo Canyon Race Loop, found via a short connector from the Orem Bench DT. Kris' 051 Loop, using a portion of the Bench DT then looping uphill and down Dry Canyon, back via BST.|
Getting there: Orem Bench: Exit I-15 on Orem's 800 North and drive straight towards the mountains. At 800 East, turn left and drive north about 1 mile. Immediately past the cemetery, turn right (east) on Cascade Drive just before the Y in the road and drive 1/2 mile to the dirt road that climbs above (to the left of) the water treatment plant. Start biking up the road.
Showy Goldeneye, a member of the daisy family, blooms in the late summer heat. One-inch blossoms cover the top of the large bush. September 6, 1999.
To ride the Bonneville Shoreline from this trailhead, turn left on pavement just before the treatment plant, go up 2 short switchbacks, and park just above the small brown building in the paved parking area. The trail begins on the north at GPS N 40° 19.514' W 111° 40.213'.
Canyon Glen: Use this trailhead if you plan to ride counter-clockwise or out-and-back. Note that if you ride this direction there are some granny-gear climbs that are a bit loose. Exit I-15 on Orem's 800 North and drive straight towards the mountains. Keep left to enter Provo Canyon. About 3 miles later, you'll see the parking area for Canyon Glen on your left. Go across the bridge to the Parkway. Turn right, and find the GWT on your left about 200 feet later, forking uphill just before the paved parkway curves around a rock outcrop.
Nunn's Park: This makes the ride about a mile longer, but at the expense of a rather ugly short section of trail from Nunn's park up to the aqueduct. Going up-canyon, turn right 4 miles up the canyon, then left under 89. Go into Nunn's Park. On your bike, come back through the park entrance, then turn left on a broken-up roadway just before the road goes under 89. Turn left at the fence and follow the fence uphill. This section is a hike-a-bike uphill. Downhill, it's tricky because if you slide or bobble you're going to hit the fence. As the singletrack reaches the top, go left (down-canyon).
Canyon Mouth: There's a parking area on Orem's 800 North Street just before you enter Provo canyon. It's just east of the gas station. GPS N 40° 18.840' W 111° 39.472'. To get to the parkway, go east over the river and through the fence. To backtrack to the Orem Bench trailhead, head back west (away from the mountains) to 800 East, then go to the Orem Trailhead as above.
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