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Meadow looking at Timpanogos

Salamander Flat Loop
(AKA Timpooneke Loop)

The Salamander Flat Loop is a long-time classic for bikers in northern Utah County. This trail is great for a quick after-work ride in the cool alpine splendor of the ridges near Mount Timpanogos. Because it originates at the Timpooneke trailhead, some riders call it the Timpooneke loop.

Chad Hunter looks at Mount Timpanogos from Salamander Flat in 1999. Original trail review July 12, 1999 by Bruce. Latest update August 14, 2018.

The loop follows the Salamander Flat Trail 150 (part of the Great Western Trail) from the Timpooneke trailhead at the base of Mount Timpanogos up the Pine Hollow trail, then on to Ridge Trail 157. It drops down the Ridge Connector trail to Salamander Flat, where it catches the western end of the Willow Hollow trail back to the Salamander Flat trail.

Timpooneke trailhead. Popular spot! There are two large parking lots, both of which may be full on Saturdays.

The ride is around 5.1 miles round trip. The trails are intermediate technical -- a grunt climb in Pine Hollow and the switchbacks and root-drops on Ridge Connector may challenge some riders. The absolute elevation gain is 600 feet. The total climbing will come to around 900 vertical feet, as the trail is an up-and-down rather than a sustained climb. With a few stops to admire the scenery, the ride is easily completed in 90 minutes.

Grinding uphill through huge trees as we climb away from Timpooneke.

The Salamander Flat trail, the Timpooneke trail, and the Timpanogos Perimeter section of the Great Western begin together at the Timpooneke trailhead within the Timpooneke campground at 7000 feet elevation. Go straight south from the parking lot on the Timpooneke Trail, then turn left across a footbridge that crosses the creek onto Salamander Flat Trail #150. (Note that bikes are NOT allowed on the Timpooneke Trail as it enters the wilderness area!)

Trail signs are excellent in American Fork Canyon. But in case you didn't see it, you're supposed to fork to the left across the creek. 

The trail climbs through deep pines, then rolls up and down through aspen, spruce, choke cherry, and elderberry trees with a riot of wildflowers. Almost all of this ride is in deep forest, with only a couple of short breakouts where there are views.


Climbing through a mixed forest of aspen and conifer on the Salamander Flat trail.

At mile 1.0, the trail crosses the Alpine Loop road. Shortly afterward, keep straight as the Snow Gauge trail joins you on your right.

Zipping around the turns in the aspens just north of the spot where Salamander Flat 150 crosses the Alpine Loop road.

After climbing to a ridgeline -- with a view of Timpanogos behind your right shoulder -- keep straight as the Willow Hollow trail forks away on the right around mile 1.4. On this part of the ride, you'll skirt Salamander Flat to the west. When the trail drops down to the creek 0.1 miles later, turn left (away from Salamander Flat) and cross the creek to the continuing trail.

Rare view of the mountains, on the way back just after rejoining the Salamander Flat trail.

At mile 2.2, the Salamander Flat trail ends on the Pine Hollow trail. Keep to the right at the trail fork and begin a stiff climb. When the trail levels out, it will skirt a big meadow before climbing up to Ridge Trail 157 at mile 2.8.

Powering uphill over roots on the tough climb in Pine Hollow.

Turn right on Ridge 157.  After a quick gentle descent, you'll begin climbing again. After around 1/2 mile on Ridge 157, you'll reach a trail fork on a ridgeline. Fork to the right on the Ridge Connector trail.

Joining the Ridge Trail after climbing Pine Hollow. Right for Salamander Flat, left for Tibble Fork, South Fork, or Mill Canyon.

The Ridge Connector hustles quickly downhill to the meadow at Salamander Flat. Speedy traverses connect through a series of switchback turns. 

The trail gets meaner as you approach the bottom. There some steeps, with root-drops and dodge-ems. Intermediates may need to walk through a few spots.

Rolling a switchback on the Ridge Connector.

At mile 3.8, the Ridge Connector ends on the Willow Hollow trail. Keep to the right (ignoring the smaller trails leading to campsites) and drop down across the creek westbound. Cross the parking area to continue uphill on Willow Hollow.

Drone view of the Salamander Flat area as we approach the Willow Hollow trail from the Ridge Connector.

Willow Hollow ends on Salamander Flat trail 150. Turn to the left (south) and begin your trip back to the trailhead.

Zooming through dense forest on the way back to Timpooneke.

Wheelies in the snow. Off-season riding!

This trail is good for late-season riding. After the Alpine Loop road is closed (usually November 1), just park at the Pine Hollow trailhead and ride your bike 1.9 miles up the Loop road, turning right into the Timpooneke Campground to catch the trail. The trail provides a good riding surface even with a few inches of snow. Once the deep snow hits, the Salamander Flat trail is groomed for fat biking.

As spring comes, occasional snowdrifts and mud will persist among the deep pines. Therefore the Forest Service closes these trails until conditions allow them to be ridden without damage. If you're thinking of riding before June, check on-line to see if the trails are open!

Chad shows off for the camera. Real men ride in the snow.
Without a coat. On one wheel. November 20, 1999.

Other riding options!

For a great 12-mile ride, take the GWT to Ridge 157 as above, but turn LEFT. After 1.6 miles, turn right onto the South Fork trail at the 4-way intersection with the Tibble Fork Trail. Loop down-and-back to the Alpine Loop summit, then head north on Ridge 157 back to the Pine Hollow trail fork and roll down to Timpooneke.

Another variation is to pass the Ridge Connector (caution, steep climbing ahead) and continue on Ridge 157 to the Summit parking area. Descend Willow Hollow all the way to Salamander Flat.

Other nice trails in this area include Timpanogos Perimeter, Ridge 157, Deer Creek South Fork, and Tibble Fork.

View down the Willow Hollow "Summit" Trail (optional return above).
Box Elder peak is in the background. September 20, 1999.

View northwest down the summit trail as fall comes to the Wasatch

 Salamander Flat Loop video tour!

 If the above video does not appear on your browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking here.

Riding notes for the loop:
0.0   Trail next to bathroom
        N40 25.890 W111 38.343
         Keep left (R = Timp Perimeter)
0.1    L across bridge (straight = wilderness)
         N40 25.791 W111 38.354
0.85  Left N40 26.058 W111 37.896
0.9    Cross road N40 26.103 W111 37.830
1.0    Keep straight (R = Snow Gauge)
         N40 26.156 W111 37.746
1.4    Straight (R = Willow Hollow) N40 26.411 W111 37.719
1.5    4-way, go L across creek N40 26.471 W111 37.629
2.2    R on Pine Hollow N40 26.751 W111 37.650
2.8    R on Ridge 157 N40 26.680 W111 37.022
3.2    R on Ridge Connector N40 26.500 W111 37.189
3.7    Join Willow Hollow, keep R N40 26.435 W111 37.549
3.8    L on Salamander Flat trail N40 26.409 W111 37.720
5.2    Back at trailhead
Timpanooke Loop Trail Map Getting there: 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 2018) there. Five miles later at the fork in the road, go along the south fork of the river. About 4 miles up, there's a T in the road. Turn right into the Timpooneke Campground road. The parking area is on your left about 1/4 mile later.

Camping:  Timpooneke
Bathroom:  Trailhead
Water:  Trailhead

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files and route (right-click and "Save as..."):
     GPX track of loop     Area multi-track file
High-res topo (160 KB):  View 
Lodging, camping, shops:    Links to north Utah County resources

Copyright 1999 Mad Scientist Software Inc
Updated 2018