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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Ridge Connector hustles quickly downhill to the meadow at Salamander Flat.
Speedy traverses connect through a series of switchback
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
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
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
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.
View down the Willow Hollow "Summit" Trail (optional return above).
Box Elder peak is
in the background. September 20, 1999.
Salamander Flat Loop
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Riding notes for the loop:
0.0 Trail next to bathroom
N40 25.890 W111 38.343
Keep left (R = Timp
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
Getting there: From I-15, take the
Alpine-Highland exit and drive 7 miles to the mouth of American Fork Canyon. Pay your
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.