||Tooele's Settlement Canyon, Right Hand Fork
Settlement Canyon lies at the southeast corner of Tooele, right at the
edge of town. It's surprisingly pretty, well-forested, and dramatically
cooler than Tooele. The canyon splits into a Right Hand Fork and Left
Hand Fork, both of which have bike trails. The Dark Trail lies in the Right Hand Fork. It's plush,
gentle, and suitable for kids and true beginners. It's usually done as an
out-and-back, with the turn-around spot depending on your appetite for
View up the trail early in the ride. Maple forest
with plenty of shade. Photos and ride review by Bruce
on July 13, 2018.
|The Dark Trail begins at 5350 feet elevation, following a
old pipeline corridor. Despite the low altitude, the
trail stays nicely cool until the afternoon during the summer. An
out-and-back ride is 7 miles round trip. Riders who want more distance can pedal further along
the Right Hand Fork Road -- a dirt road at this point -- once the
The trail is heavily forested. This spot on the lower
Dark Trail is one of the few places where you can see a view.
||The ride consists of four segments: The
"official" Dark Trail (1.7 miles), a bit of paved road (0.2),
the Right Hand Fork or Upper Dark trail (1.5), and dirt road extending
further northeast (around a mile).
The route is used by horses. This can loosen the tread a bit,
especially on the Upper Dark portion. There may also be cattle grazing
along the Upper Dark trail.
Bits and pieces of irrigation channels and
water-collection pipelines are seen along the ride. One reason the riding
is so plush is that it follows a route that was graded for water channels
|The Dark trail begins 1/10th mile from the Settlement Canyon
fee station, on the right side of the paved canyon road. There's no
parking at the trail entry, and as of July 2018, no trail sign. Watch for
a well-traveled singletrack entering the trees northbound.
Bruce rides up the Dark Trail through maple forest.
At mile 0.4 of
the singletrack, there's a trail forking steeply downhill to the left.
This is a connector to the Left Hand Fork trailhead. After crossing the
creek, it will end at the back of a picnic parking spot. Go up to the
road, and the Left Hand Fork Trail is straight across. Some riders might
choose to park here and use this connector trail as a starting spot.
A vent pipe reminds us that we're riding over a
|After climbing 300 vertical feet over 1.7 miles, the
"official" Dark Trail will end on the paved Right Hand Fork Road
at a picnic and group-activity area. Keep right and uphill to pedal along
After 0.2 miles, you'll arrive at a "No Trespassing"
gate. Take the prominent ride-around to the left of the gate. As you hit
the pavement again, look for singletrack right across the road. This is
the Upper Dark (Right Hand Fork) trail.
The trail passes by an outcrop of limestone.
||The Upper Dark trail is similar in character to the lower
trail. The climbing is gentle and easy. The singletrack extends up the
canyon another 1.5 miles (and climbs another 300 vertical feet) before
ending on the now-gravel Right Hand Fork road.
|To continue, keep to the right and climb on the doubletrack.
After 1/10th mile, you'll reach a gate in a broken-down fence. To the left
is the Bear Trap Pass trail. (This trail is usually used as a downhill
route from the pass. It's pretty steep, with 900 vertical feet in 1.4
miles. If you're interested in a loop ride that combines the Dark Trail
with the Left Hand Fork trails, see my Left Hand
Fork trail page.)
You're now at mile 3.6 from the fee-station parking
area and you've climbed 700 vertical feet to 6050 feet elevation.
Much of the Upper Dark trail has very large trees
with an open understory.
||To extend the ride, continue uphill on the doubletrack
through Bear Trap Flats. My recommended turnaround comes at Balsam Hollow,
1.2 miles and 500 vertical feet uphill from the gate at the Bear Trap Pass
trail. If you continue, the road gets steep and turns into an ugly pack
trail up to a pass at 8200 feet elevation.
Looking up the Right Hand Fork road at Rocky Peak (elevation 10,200).
Excellent ride for beginners and groups of mixed ability. Best done as
an out-and-back, but can be part of a loop using the Left
Hand Fork trails for more advanced riders.
Handlebar view of the Upper Dark trail.
|Riding notes, out-and-back to Balsam Hollow:
0.0 On paved road at fee station N40 30.425 W112 17.604
0.1 R on Dark Trail N40 30.377 W112 17.516
0.5 Straight (L = to parking, road, and Left Hand Fork)
N40 30.004 W112 17.339
1.8 Join road, keep R and uphill N40 29.110 W112 17.136
2.0 Around left of gate, cross road to ST Upper Dark
N40 28.969 W112 17.043
3.5 Join DT uphill N40 28.277 W112 15.893
3.6 Straight at gate (L = Bear Trap Pass)
N40 28.173 W112 15.697
4.8 Turn around, retrace path N40 27.126 W112 15.244
9.6 Back at parking
From Salt Lake Valley, take I-80 westbound. Exit on Highway 36 and
drive south through Tooele. Right at the southern edge of town, look for a
"Camp Wapiti" sign and turn left onto the Settlement Canyon
Road. (Note: there's a street called "Canyon Road" about 1/10th
mile before Settlement Canyon. It's NOT the canyon road that you
From Utah County, take Highway 73 westbound through Five Mile Pass.
Turn right (north) on Highway 36. As you hit the edge of Tooele, watch for
a small "Camp Wapiti" sign and turn right on Settlement Canyon
Drive uphill 0.8 miles to a large parking area and fee station. If you
plan to picnic, camp, or just park within the canyon, pay your fee at the
station. If you're biking in, find a parking spot here.
Canyon Road parking (for Dark Trail): For bike-in riders,
there's parking on the right side of the road, just before the fee
Spring Flats (Left Hand Fork trailhead): From the fee
station, drive 1/2 mile on the canyon road. Keep right as the Camp Wapiti
road forks uphill to the left. Drive 1/10th mile further and turn right
into the trailhead parking. The Left Hand Fork trail is across the road
from the parking entrance. The Dark Trail can be reached via a connector
at the back of the northernmost picnic parking spot.
Camp Wapiti parking: Drive 0.5 miles from the fee station,
then turn left on the Camp Wapiti road. Go 0.4 miles uphill and park in
front of the camp gates. The trail is to the left of the camp gates, and
within a few feet forks into the Bench Trail (left) and a connector to the
doubletrack to Bottom (right).