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Timpanogos Foothill East Trails
Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu loop options

The Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, and Ouch trails lie northeast of the more popular Timpanogos foothill trails at the mouth of Provo Canyon, higher on the slope. If I were feeling kind, I might describe these routes as "adventure trails" for expert riders looking for fresh territory. They are primitive and often hard to ride. 

Eastbound toward the southern flank of Mount Timpanogos. Photos and ride track by Bruce on July 12 (Machu Picchu ride) and July 26, 2016 (Taj Mahal ride).

On this page, I describe two rides. One hits Machu Picchu and western Ouch from the Bonneville Shoreline trailhead at Canyon Glen in Provo Canyon. From any trailhead, it will take 1500 vertical feet just to reach Machu Picchu. This lariat loop (with a once-around on the Ouch Circle inside the loop) is 8.4 miles with 1800 vertical of overall climbing.

The second ride, also starting from Canyon Glen, makes a big loop west-to-east on Taj Mahal, with a DH cutoff bypassing Dragon's Back on the way down. This ride is 6.5 miles with 1600 feet of climbing.

If you don't like the climb up to Dragon's Back from Canyon Glen and detest Frank (Trail 033) -- and who doesn't -- you can get to the area via a longer but more mellow alternative. For example, you can take Shooter from the Orem BST trailhead, climb the West Ridge to the Trail 51 area, then take eastbound trails to the Little Baldy trail to link up. Or you can take the Bench Road to Betty for your climb.

View northwest from the eastern side of Taj Mahal.

These trails require an adventurous attitude. And strong legs. And expert biking skills. And a tolerance for scars. For both rides, I came home thoroughly scratched up, just from the oak raking my arms and legs. On the Machu Picchu ride, oak brush caught and ripped the handlebar around, dumping me over the top (twice!). There's injury potential here, and no riders nearby to help.

So if you're the sort who gets angry, says many bad words, and plots to murder the website author who told you about the trail you're riding, DON'T ride these trails. They're mean!

Real honest non-photoshopped view straight down the trail on a piece of the Taj Mahal route.

 
Brief Trail Info...
Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal itself is 2.5 miles in length from Little Baldy trail 33 to its end on the Alta Ditch (Orem Bench) road. The western end starts at 6200 feet elevation, descends then climbs again to 6300, then drops steeply to the dirt road where the eastern end is 5600 feet elevation.

The tread is narrow but mostly of reasonable width, but encroaching scrub oak scratches arms, yanks at handlebars, and hides rocks and stumps. The track tends to go up-and-down (horse-route style) rather than contouring around rollers on the slope.

The Rocky leans on a limestone rock on Taj Mahal. 

Ouch

Not sure if Ouch is the real trail name, or just Trailfork's reaction to riding it. I used some other four-letter words while forcing my bike eastbound on this rough and primitive route. Ouch is 1.3 miles long, forking north uphill from Taj Mahal 0.2 miles from Little Baldy, then rejoining at Taj Mahal's midpoint. 

Ouch will climb from 6300 to 6500 feet elevation before dropping back to 6300 at the eastern junction with Taj Mahal. The eastern half of the trail is especially narrow and often rough from embedded rock. When only the western side is used for a loop ride, it's not horrible. Meadows alternate with stands of scrub oak.

Looking west on a smooth spot where Ouch crosses a meadow.

Ouch Circle

This alternative line lies on western Ouch between the Machu Picchu fork and the Taj Mahal fork. It's some of the smoothest riding in the area as it winds through maple forest and meadows. The eastern end is higher by 100 feet, but the rate of climb seems pleasant.

The Circle is 0.8 miles around, consisting of 0.5 miles on the uphill alternate line plus 0.3 miles of Ouch between the two ends.

Trust me, there's a trail there. Middle bottom of the photo.

Machu Picchu

This trail forks east from a switchback on Little Baldy uphill from Trail 51 at just over 6600 feet elevation. It descends 150 feet over 0.6 miles to end on Ouch, 0.5 miles from where western Ouch ends on Taj Mahal. Like Ouch, the trail is narrow and bumpy from embedded rock. It lies almost entirely in tall maple forest.

In the ride below, I take Machu Picchu west-to-east downhill, then the western end of Ouch in a clockwise circle downhill. (I also did this segment uphill, but both the riding and navigation were much trickier.)

Narrow trail in the grass in a grove of maple.

 
Taj Mahal loop ride
The ride starts at the footbridge over the Provo River near the entry to the Canyon Glen parking. Your starting altitude is around 5000 feet. Turn right at the paved Provo River Parkway and go about 200 feet uphill.

The Bonneville Shoreline Trail (Trail 33) forks uphill on the left, just as the trail is approaching a rock outcrop. Immediately it begins a stiff climb uphill.

Here's your route to the Parkway from the Canyon Glen parking lot.

Some riders can grunt their way to the top without a break. Most of us will need a couple of breaks to recharge the muscles. And perhaps a short push-a-bike or two. The trail will make a switchback turn left uphill after it joins the pipeline corridor eastbound for a few feet. (The continuing route east would take you to Nunn's Park.) There's 230 vertical feet of climbing over 0.4 miles up to the Bonneville Shoreline bench. 

Now you'll reach a flat area. Keep straight and left for the Dragon's Back. (The trail to the right passes through Johnson's Hole before climbing steeply uphill to rejoin Dragon's Back near the Orem Bench Road.) You'll quickly begin climbing again, working up the ridgeline westbound, then northbound.

The BST heads toward the Dragon's Back westbound.

Keep straight and northbound as Johnson's Hole comes in on your right. The trail will join gravel road at a metal gate at mile 1.5. Go up to the Bench Road and a second gate and turn left. After 0.3 miles on the Bench Road, Trail 33 (signed for Little Baldy and GWT) forks uphill on your right.

Locals call this trail "Frank." Frank is an older route, in serious need of rehab and/or reroute. There's plenty of loose rock and overgrowing oak. The first half-mile is miserably steep and loose, then Frank becomes marginally more pleasant. Overall you'll climb 500 vertical on Frank's 0.8 miles. 

Frank (GWT, Trail 33) climbs from the Bench Road.

Frank ends at The Altar (mile 2.6 from the TH), a pile of rocks where several trails come together. Turn right to head north uphill on Little Baldy trail 33.

Here again, there will be some steep areas with loose rocks on the eroded trail surface, and occasional encroaching oak scratching at your arms.

At 0.3 miles from The Altar, as the Little Baldy trail turns a bit to the left, a faint singletrack forks to the right. You've reached Taj Mahal.

The trail will go east-northeast over some rollers, generally climbing. At 0.15 miles from the Little Baldy trail, there's a critical trail fork. A cairn and a row of rocks would send you to the left (northeast) uphill. NO! That's Ouch. If you're suckered into taking this left fork (as I was), you're going to find some unpleasant trail ahead.

Heading east on Taj Mahal, before the Ouch fork.

Instead, go straight and right through a small passage in the oak brush. Follow this right fork as it turns and goes downhill to the southeast. If you become alarmed that you're descending too far so you must be on the wrong trail  -- you're probably on the RIGHT trail.

You're going to lose about 200 vertical feet of that elevation you fought so hard to reach, continuing to lose altitude as the trail turns back eastbound.

View towards crags on Timp's southern slope from the Ouch trail fork area. There should be no further trail forks on Taj Mahal. If you quickly pass a couple of routes forking left (uphill), you're probably on Ouch.

The trail will now begin a long stretch where it contours the mountain eastbound as it slowly regains the lost altitude. The tread here is fairly good, but with occasional oak grabbing at your shins and hands.

Over the next 3/4 mile, you'll regain almost all of the altitude you lost after descending from the Ouch fork. You may (or may not) see Ouch rejoin Taj Mahal on your left at mile 4.2 (1.1 from the Ouch fork).

Looking to the southwest at the mouth of Provo Canyon as the trail crosses a ridgeline clearing on steep side-slope. 

After another half-mile of traverse eastbound, Taj Mahal will begin descending through a series of turns in tall maple forest. Big limestone boulders stand near the trail. This is the best riding of the trip. Enjoy it while it lasts.

The trail meanders through huge limestone boulders under maple forest.

Now the trail starts descending steeply into Provo Canyon in stunted oak scrub. It's a bit too steep to enjoy the downhill, as you'll lose 600 vertical feet in 0.8 miles.

In the middle of this downhill, the trail meets an old doubletrack and turns hard right. Now follow the DT 0.4 miles down to the Alta Ditch (Orem Bench) road.

Here the trail begins its eastbound plunge into Provo Canyon.

As you reach the gravel road, keep straight to head back to the west. From here, you could return back to the Bonneville Shoreline fork (at the metal gate) and descend the way you came.

My (shorter) track takes you 0.4 miles west on the gravel road, then plunges down a singletrack on the eastern edge of Johnson's Hole. Watch for the singletrack dropping off the left side of the road, just as it reaches a wide area with a shoulder.

We've reached the junction of the gravel road with the doubletrack descent from Taj Mahal.

This singletrack is nice at first, then plunges quite steeply down to the Johnson's Hole trail, just a few feet from the Dragon's Back trail. Turn left, and descend the remaining 0.4 miles back to the trailhead.

Looking northwest from the spot where Dragon's Back meets Johnson's Hole. That's the Johnson's Hole trail.

Ride synopsis:
6.5 mile loop ride clockwise, 1600 feet of climbing. Rough trail surface, steep climbs, encroaching brush.
Canyon Glen to Provo River Parkway. BST (Dragon's Back) to Orem Bench Road. Road to Frank (Trail 33). At Altar, uphill on Little Baldy (33) to Taj Mahal 0.3 miles uphill.
Critical trail fork for Taj Mahal 0.15 miles from Little Baldy, right and downhill.
Steep descent to gravel road, then east 0.4 miles. Left downhill on singletrack to fork with Johnson's Hole and Dragon's Back trails.
Retrace to trailhead.

Riding notes, Taj Majal loop from Canyon Glen:
0.0   Cross Provo River N40 19.771 W111 37.277
0.1   R on Provo River Parkway
        N40 19.814 W111 37.289
0.2   L on BST ST N40 19.901 W111 37.266
0.35 Join benchcut then L uphill
        N40 19.899 W111 37.264
        (R and level = east to Nunn's)
0.6   Keep L (R = Johnson's Hole)
        N40 19.909 W111 37.390
1.4   Keep L (R = Johnson's Hole)
        N40 20.122 W111 38.220
1.5   Around gate, up DT to Bench Road
        L on Bench Road N40 20.170 W111 38.254
1.8   R uphill on Frank (Trail 33)
        N40 20.184 W111 38.549
2.7   Altar. R uphill on Little Baldy 33
        N40 20.632 W111 39.060
2.9   R on Taj Mahal N40 20.766 W111 38.891
3.05 R and downhill (L = Ouch)
        N40 20.777 W111 38.757
4.2   Straight and R (L = Ouch)
        N40 20.622 W111 37.756
5.0   R on DT N40 20.398 W111 37.102
5.4   Straight on Bench Road
        N40 20.192 W111 37.158
5.8   L on ST N40 20.138 W111 37.387
6.1   L at Johnson's Hole trail and
        L to BST downhill N40 19.909 W111 37.390
6.5   Back at parking
 
Machu Picchu and Ouch with Circles
From Canyon Glen, go across the Provo River. Turn right on the paved Provo River Parkway trail. Now turn left uphill on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, also signed for Trail 33.

Cross the level trail at the pipeline, mile 0.3 from the trailhead. Keep left at the fork with Johnson's Hole at mile 0.6, having gone 230 vertical feet in the last 0.4 miles. Straight ahead is the climb up the Dragon's Back.

Keep left again at mile 1.4 when Johnson's Hole rejoins uphill. Keep straight and climb up around the metal gate, up the gravel road. Turn left on the Orem Bench road.

The Bonneville Shoreline Trail, looking west shortly after beginning the climb from the paved parkway trail.

Go 0.3 miles west on the Bench Road, then turn right uphill on Trail 33, signed for Little Baldy but called "Frank" by locals. Grunt steeply uphill on loose rock, as encroaching oak tries to catch you, gaining 500 vertical feet over the 0.8 mile.

This steep south-facing hillside can be unpleasant climbing on a hot summer day.

View up "Frank" as we climb 12% average slope in the first half mile from the Bench Road.

At mile 2.6 from the trailhead, Frank comes to the big pile of rocks called The Altar. Turn right (uphill, north) on Little Baldy 33. The trail will become rough and steep.

Pass the connector to Taj Mahal at mile 2.9. At mile 3.2, keep right as Trail 51 forks to the left. 

Climbing higher on Little Baldy.

At mile 3.6 from the trailhead -- almost exactly one mile uphill from The Altar -- Machu Picchu forks to the right. This occurs as Little Baldy is taking a sharp switchback turn to the left. (If you end up on a long traverse east before hitting a sharp switchback to the left, you're one turn too high.) 

A mellow cruising spot on Machu Picchu heading southeast.

Machu Picchu runs east-southeast through maples and box elder right where the mountain transitions from steep slope to tilted bench. The grassy understory is a bit bumpy with embedded rock as a very narrow trail runs through the tall trees.

The trail descends 150 vertical in 0.6 miles before dropping onto Ouch, mile 4.2 from the trailhead.

We're about one maple grove away from joining Ouch.

The curve in Machu Picchu just before the Ouch intersection tends to send you westbound -- a right fork. Good. In fact, you might not even be aware you passed a trail fork, because this is the direction most people ride. Few venture further east on Ouch, because it's nasty.

This westbound section of Ouch is pretty plush compared to that that lies further to the east.

This area of Ouch consists of small meadows mixed among groves of maple and oak. Assuming you were even aware you passed the fork and are on Ouch, the next trail fork is the top of the Ouch Circle, 1/10th mile downhill. For now, keep left and go past.

Looking back to the east (up Provo Canyon) from a meadow on Ouch.

At another fork after 0.3 miles, go to the right uphill on the Ouch Circle trail. It will take you uphill in a tall clockwise loop. This is some pretty trail, narrow but with a fairly open understory, mostly free of scratchy stuff.

You'll rejoin the main Ouch trail after 0.5 miles, turning right to repeat the 0.3 miles you did before. This time, as you reach the spot where you entered the loop keep left and straight to continue downhill on Ouch.

The Ouch Circle winds through groves of mostly maple with the occasional oak.

The trail drops to the south through oak and small meadows. When you see a cairn straight ahead and a long row of rocks just off the trail on your left, you've reached the fork between Taj Mahal and Ouch.

Here you see the reason for the prominent trail marking. If you take the left fork, you'll wind up eastbound on Taj Mahal. Maybe that's your objective. But for this ride, fork to the right for westbound Taj Mahal.

We're coasting downhill on the last section of Ouch toward Taj Majal. The terrain has turned dryer, so it's mostly oak and grass.

The next 0.15 miles is rolling grass and oak as you go westbound on Taj Mahal. It's generally downhill but with bursts of climbing.

When you hit the Little Baldy trail, turn left downhill.

On Taj Mahal headed west toward the Little Baldy trail.

Now retrace your path:  Down Little Baldy. Left at The Altar for Frank (continuing trail 33). Just about all of the singletrack now involves a bit of rock-surfing and oak-brush arm-raking.

At the bottom of Frank go left on the Bench Road. Turn right downhill on gravel road at the metal gate, then left of the next metal gate to enter the Dragon's Back singletrack.

Take either Johnson's Hole or Dragon's Back, your call. Now descend the BST back to the paved parkway.

Looking uphill on Frank. More rock than dirt.

Ride synopsis:
8.4 mile lariat with loop and loop-within-a-loop at the top (done clockwise), 1800 feet of climbing. Rough trail surface, steep climbs, encroaching brush.
Canyon Glen to Provo River Parkway. Bonneville Shoreline Trail (Dragon's Back and Orem Bench Road) to Frank (Trail 33). At Altar, uphill on Little Baldy (33) to Machu Picchu one mile above The Altar.
Machu Picchu turns onto Ouch westbound, loop on Ouch Circle while westbound. Critical trail fork 0.2 miles from western loop fork, keep right to join Taj Mahal westbound.
After returning to Little Baldy, retrace your path downhill.

Riding notes, Machu Picchu loop from Canyon Glen:
0.0   Cross Provo River N40 19.771 W111 37.277
0.1   R on Provo River Parkway
        N40 19.814 W111 37.289
0.2   L on BST ST N40 19.901 W111 37.266
0.35 Join benchcut then L uphill
        N40 19.899 W111 37.264
        (R and level = east to Nunn's)
0.6   Keep L (R = Johnson's Hole)
        N40 19.909 W111 37.390
1.4   Keep L (R = Johnson's Hole)
        N40 20.122 W111 38.220
1.5   Around gate, up DT to Bench Road
        L on Bench Road N40 20.170 W111 38.254
1.8   R uphill on Frank (Trail 33)
        N40 20.184 W111 38.549
2.7   Altar. R uphill on Little Baldy 33
        N40 20.632 W111 39.060
2.9   Keep L (R = Taj Mahal)
        N40 20.766 W111 38.891
3.2   Fork R (L = Trail 51) N40 20.905 W111 38.970
3.6   Fork R on Machu Picchu
        N40 21.114 W111 38.810
4.2   R to join Ouch N40 20.871 W111 38.426
4.3   Keep L (R = loop return)
        N40 20.891 W111 38.495
4.5   Fork R to begin circle
       N40 20.851 W111 38.667
5.0   Keep R (finish loop, rejoin Ouch)
5.3   Keep L (R = to circle again)
5.45 Fork R, westbound Taj Mahal
        N40 20.780 W111 38.759
5.6   L downhill on Little Baldy
5.8   L on Frank at Altar
6.6   L on Bench Road
6.9   R downhill on DT at gate
        L of next gate and start ST
8.4   Back at parking
Getting there, Canyon Glen: 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.
Timpanogos Park:
  Exit I-15 on Orem's 800 North and drive straight towards the mountains. Keep left to enter Provo Canyon. After 1 mile, you'll pass the entrance to Canyon View Park on your left. About 100 yards later, there's a diversion dam, then a bridge over the river. Drive over the bridge to Timpanogos Park and park in the lot. Ride to the northwest corner of the parking area. Begin your ride by pedaling up the gravel road. Keep straight at the road fork at  mile 0.3 if you're heading for the Bottom Access trail (recommended), or fork R uphill for the Ravine or East Access trails. Ride through the race loop and take the Upper Access trail to the BST to connect to uphill trails.
Orem Bench BST Trailhead:  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 fence at the uphill end of the cemetery, turn right (east) on Cascade Drive. Drive 1/2 mile then fork uphill before you approach the water treatment plant. Take two switchbacks up, passing the lower overflow parking, to the paved parking area with the bathroom. Your trail is right across from where the road entered the parking lot.
Dry Canyon Trailhead: 
Turn east off State Street (Highway 89) at 200 South in Lindon, which also happens to be 2000 North for Orem. Keep straight as you approach the mountains. When the road begins to turn right (south), turn left onto Dry Canyon Drive heading northeast. Now keep straight uphill until the road turns into the trailhead. To reach the Shooter uphill route, go south on the BST to the Orem trailhead.
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. As the singletrack reaches the top, go left (west).
Zorro (1560 East Trailhead):
  Take 800 North in Orem toward the mountains. Just as the road starts to descend into the canyon, turn left on 1560 East. Go to the end of the pavement and park on the right. The ugly jeep road switchbacks east of the trailhead take you uphill -- 0.4 miles with 200 vertical -- to the Zorro singletrack. Zorro will add another 300 vertical and 0.6 miles. (Don't fork onto the steeper Bramber DH. You'll know it as you pass it.) When Zorro hits doubletrack, head a bit further uphill to the Bench Road for uphill connections.
Canyon Mouth Provo River Parkway:
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. Go uphill to the Canyon View Park, Canyon Glen, or Nunn's park for uphill singletrack connections to the Bench Road.
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide Taj Mahal 
Single-page guide Machu Picchu 
GPS track files for route (right-click and "Save as..."):
      Taj Mahal loop ride as above   Machu Picchu loop as above
      Multi-track GPX area file
High-res area topo map for printing:   View topo
Lodging, camping, shops:    Links to Provo area resources

Bathrooms:  Timpanogos Park, Canyon Glen, Nunn's Park
Water:  At trailhead parks
Camping:  Hope CG, Rock Canyon CG near Squaw Peak
Bike services:  UtahMountainBiking store in Lehi.

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