Ridge Trail 157
Ridge Trail 157, a favorite of Utah Valley
bikers, deserves a more awesome name. It runs from Pole Line Pass at the top
of American Fork Canyon's North Fork, to the Alpine Loop summit in the
The views from the ridge of Mount Timpanogos are spectacular.
Timpanogos from Ridge 157.
September 19, 1998 by Bruce Argyle
|Most riders don't do the entire trail. They
ride the southern part of the trail, using it as a connector to many
incredibly fun trails that link to the ridge top. (See the map.)
The trail is
11 miles long, involves some stiff climbing, and is not an easy ride. Most
riders will use a shuttle to ride the whole thing. Assuming you're riding the
entire Ridge Trail (see below for links to pages describing other rides
using a portion of the Ridge Trail), you can do it from either end. It's
much easier riding north-to-south, starting at Pole Line Pass.
Either direction, you're looking at one
section of hike-a-bike. North-to-south, it's just past Forest Lake, as you
climb towards Rock Spring. Plan on walking your bike for about 1/4 mile of
South-to-north, there's 1.5 miles of brutally
steep climbing up to Rock Spring that will wear down until you're walking
your steed. One section climbs 1000 vertical feet in around a mile. Slopes
that could be ridden are often torn up by motorcycles.
The trail goes through a grove of aspens.
Sept. 19, 1998.
Our recommendation? If you're going to ride ALL of Ridge Trail
157, which is not easy, you might as well just ride up the North Fork Road from
Tibble Fork Reservoir, then do the trail north-to-south. Yes, you're going to do
a little vertical. But the climb on the North Fork Road isn't that tough. This
gives you a 28-mile 3300-vertical hill-climbing loop. A real adventure. If you
head down on pavement from the summit, you'll have 9 easy miles back to your
vehicle. But I suggest you drop down the Willow Hollow #159 Trail (often called
the Summit Trail), then catch the northbound Salamander Flat Trail #150 over to
the downhill Pine Hollow Trauk, so you get a few more dirt miles. If you decide, mid-ride, that you
don't want to go the whole distance on Ridge Trail 157, just bomb down the
Tibble Fork Trail to the reservoir, where you parked your car.
||Ridge Trail 157 is a section of the Great Western trail. It rolls up and
down through aspens, pines, oak brush, and meadows. There are frequent outlook points to
admire the views. Because of the high altitude, the higher portions of the trail are
snowbound until late June or early July. While the southern half of Ridge
Trail 157 is an intermediate ride, the northern portion of the Ridge
Trail is for very strong intermediate or advanced
riders. Aerobic requirement high, technical difficulty intermediate to high.
Doc Argyle on the trail,
September 19, 1998.
Picture taken by the Swedish Bikini Mountain Bike Racing Team.
...or so he claims.
Ridge 157 is the divide between American Fork Canyon, which drains directly
to Utah Lake on the west, and the Little Deer Creek - Provo River drainage. On
the east side of the ridge, water flows eastward then turns south to enter the
Provo River near Deer Creek or (past Mill Canyon Peak) in the Heber Valley.
Notice that many of the canyons have a rounded appearance, both at the ridgeline
and on the valley floor, consistent with the action of glaciers during the ice
age ending 10,000 years ago. (Pure stream erosion would create V-shaped cuts.)
|Four riding options for the whole
1. South-to-North, finishing at Tibble Fork (very hard): You'll need a shuttle car.
Leave vehicle at Tibble Fork and drive to Alpine Loop Summit. Ride 11
miles to Pole Line Pass -- the middle two miles are brutal continuous uphill, gaining
1600 feet. Bomb down to Tibble Fork from the pass for a total 20 miles. Jackie
(14-inch high Jack Russell terrier) made it, so you can too.
2. North-to-South with shuttle: Leave a vehicle at Tibble Fork,
then drive 8 miles to the top of Pole Line Pass via the North Fork Road.
Ride 11 miles to the Alpine Loop Summit. Roll down the road (fun!), or for
more dirt, ride the Willow Hollow (Summit) Trail, then turn right on the GWT over to Pine
Hollow. The Ridge Trail is easier this direction.
Dominic races into an oak tunnel with Mount Timpanogos in
the background. June 26, 1999. This photo available as wallpaper.
||3. Out-and-Back Crazy Man's Loop: From the Alpine Loop
summit, ride to Rock Springs, then turn right onto the East Side Ridge
Trail. After an insanely steep and difficult descent, cruise back around
to the ridge trail and turn left to head back. A very very tough 21 miles.
4. Iron-legs Loop: Park at Tibble Fork Reservoir. Head up the gravel
North Fork Road to Pole Line Pass. Ride south to the Alpine Loop summit.
Head down via road or singletrack (Willow Hollow Trail, connecting to Timpooneke or Pine Hollow). Over 3500 total vertical, about 27 miles.
Gilia, also called Skyrocket or Desert Trumpet. You'll see plenty of Penstemon,
Balsamroot, Sticky Geranium and other wildflowers. June 26, 1999.
|The southern section of trail is free of snow by early June. On the pass
north of Mill Canyon Peak, snow may persist well into July. Riding conditions on the
northern half of Ridge Trail 157 can be pretty tough.
Alpine Loop summit trailhead GPS N
40° 25.911' W 111° 36.829'
Pole Line Pass trailhead GPS N 40° 31.856' W 111° 34.241'
Tibble Fork intersection GPS N 40° 27.547' W 111° 36.894'
Mud Spring intersection GPS N 40° 27.127' W 111° 37.375'
Mill Canyon Spring intersection GPS N 40° 28.442' W 111° 35.288'
Forest Lake intersection GPS N 40° 30.306' W 111° 34.854'
Here Matt and Gary crest the top of a snowbank on the ridge above Forest
Photo June 26, 1999 by Bruce.
|For maps of other rides that use portions of Ridge Trail 157, see the
pages on Pine Hollow - Tibble Fork, Deer
Creek South Fork, Mill Canyon Peak, Mud
Spring - Mill Canyon, Middle 157 Expert,
Mill Canyon Spring, Old
Trench Road, Forest Lake, and Timpooneke
Our favorite ride: Start at Timpooneke, ride up the Great Western and hang
left on the Ridge Trail. Turn right on South Fork. At the Summit, pick up
the Ridge Trail again. Turn left at the Pine Hollow trail fork and bomb
back down to the Timpooneke parking area.
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 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; the trail takes off to the
Pole Line Pass Trailhead: Drive up American Fork Canyon as above, but
take the North Fork to Tibble Fork Reservoir. Drive past the reservoir. As the paved road
turns to go uphill, drive straight ahead onto a dirt road. Follow the rough dirt road
about 8 miles to the top of the ridge (keep right at the fork), where you'll find the Ridge Trail 157 crossing the
road just before the summit. Head south (right).