||Willow Creek Trail (#001)
The Willow Creek trail is a fun singletrack trail in the area just east
of Daniel's Summit (northwest of Strawberry Reservoir). This trail is suitable for
beginners but satisfying for skilled riders. Slopes are gentle and
non-technical. The ride can be done as a simple 4-mile (round trip)
out-and-back, or as part of a longer ride.
Jackie crosses Willow Creek. Photos
and ride description August 17, 2009 by Bruce.
The route I describe here is 14
miles. It loops through scenic Bjorkman Hollow on doubletrack and does a
singletrack "victory lap" around a side canyon so you get a lot
more of the fun stuff. The longer ride has 900 feet of elevation gain;
out-and-back has only 300. Peak altitude is about 8400 feet.
View north in Bjorkman
Hollow, heading gently uphill.
For those riding the trail out-and-back, there's parking
right at the start of the singletrack, with room for about 4 vehicles. On
weekends, you may have to look for roadside parking downhill from the
Typical beaver pond along
the ATV trail in Bjorkman Hollow.
The out-and-back climb up Willow Creek is gentle with multiple creek
crossings. Plan to get your feet wet. Navigation for the out-and-back is
easy -- just stay with the creek, keeping left on the uphill at the two
trail forks. An option on the out-and-back is to use the side-canyon
alternate trail for some variety (see map). There are no creek crossings
on the more-technical alternate route, so if you're water-phobic you can
eliminate all but three crossings.
At the top of Bjorkman Hollow, we leave
the creek and climb over a low rise in aspen forest.
The longer (but still easy) ride starts at the main parking
area at the beginning of the gravel Strawberry River Road, just off US-40.
This loop has 3.6 miles on Strawberry road, a broad dirt/gravel road with
occasional vehicle traffic. Then there's about three miles on the Bjorkman
ATV route, which is actually a smooth but narrow road suitable for
passenger cars. The pretty scenery prevents boredom here.
We've reached the top of the Willow
Creek Trail. This is the trailhead.
|Once you hit the Willow Creek singletrack, you can crank at
warp speed along smooth trail with an almost imperceptible downhill slope
(150 feet per mile). Sight lines are long, so you can easily spot horse
riders in the distance and arrange safe passing.
The trail crashes through the creek quite a few times. Most crossings
are rocky slippery fun, easily done by an intermediate rider. Attempts to
keep your feet dry are pointless, as the crossings get deeper. Two
crossings had a bit of mud on one side, but not deep enough to bog down.
After 7 miles, it's time for Jackie's
drink at the first creek crossing.
At the second creek crossing (heading downhill), you'll
notice a trail fork. The Willow Creek trail is to the right, across the
creek. Remember this spot. We'll use that left fork as a return route when
we come up the alternate trail for another go at the Willow Creek trail
Beaver pond. We're looking east. You
can make out a trail on the sidehill at the left of the photo -- this is
the return trail for the "victory lap," which allows us to hit
the fun stuff twice.
The trail rips through willows and grass in a small valley between two
forested ridges. There are many little ponds, courtesy of the local
View down the canyon as we
approach an upended rock layer.
1.2 miles downhill from that 2nd creek crossing (remember?),
you'll see another trail fork, also just before a creek crossing. If
you're "done," right goes down to the trailhead. We'll fork left
and climb the side canyon to do a "victory lap".
The rock "fence"
as we pass.
The alternate trail is narrower, winding and undulating, so I don't
recommend this side-route for beginners. This section is intermediate in
tech requirement. The trail climbs up a parallel canyon then over a rise
to rejoin the Willow Creek trail at the second creek crossing. Doing this
lap adds 3 miles of singletrack to your ride. There aren't any creek
crossings on the side canyon trail.
The Willow Creek trail is scenic, fun, and non-threatening.
Kids will love it. If you have children or beginners in tow, I suggest you
go a little later in the year (August) when the stream flow is lower and
the trail is more worked-in. If you're starting from the bottom, the first
creek crossing is the deepest and widest. If you can ride that one, you're
good for the rest.
A horizontal rainbow, or more
accurately, a sun bow.
|Yes, there are fish in the creek. Check regulations, as fishing is
prohibited during the spawning run.
||Riding notes, 14-mile loop ride with
"lap" via side canyon:
0.0 From parking, north (left) on gravel road
N40 16.791 W111 13.132
1.1 Keep straight on main road (R = return)
N40 17.756 W111 13.243
3.6 R to Bjorkman Hollow ATV route
N40 19.837 W111 13.718
6.2 Highest point of ride (8400 ft)
6.6 R (south) off DT to ST at log fence
N40 20.028 W111 12.032
7.2 2nd creek crossing N40 19.514 W111 11.935
R for Willow Creek (L=alternate
8.4 L on alternate (R=continue down canyon)
N40 19.514 W111 11.935
Slow climb up and around to
10.1 L across creek and rejoin Willow Crk downhill
11.4 At fork, go R across creek this time
11.8 Trailhead, downhill on DT N40 18.329 W111 12.609
12.7 Strawberry Road, go L
13.8 Back at parking
Getting there: Take US-40 southbound from
Heber and drive up Daniel's Canyon 17 miles from the US40-US189 junction. After passing the summit,
continue another 2.5 miles to the Strawberry River. Shortly after crossing
the river, turn left on the Strawberry River Road, about mile 2.8 after
the summit. Immediately turn left into the parking area.
To reach the Willow Creek trailhead, drive 1.1 miles up the Strawberry
road then fork right at the Willow Creek sign and drive up dirt road 0.6
Facilities: Toilets at the main parking area along
Singletrack closed to ATVs and motorcycles. Trail is popular with horse