Repairing or upgrading your bike! Look for items on UMB site Discussion board for bike fanatics! Visit the UMB store!
Css Menu Javascript by v4.3.0
Ephraim Canyon Trail System

The Ephraim Canyon trail system lies on US Forest Service land at an elevation of 6800 to 8000 feet. The expected riding season would be June through October. The trails are new in 2020.

As of June 2021, there are seven connected trails in this system and all are easy to ride, suitable for beginners and older children. Fun options include up-and-back (10 miles) and a lariat loop ride (7 miles). Many local families do a drop-off at the top of Mirkwood and ride the 5 miles downhill.

View along the Gravity Trail as we head uphill. Photos and trail review June 21, 2021 by Bruce.

There are several small trailheads along the Ephraim Canyon Road where you can access the trails. The main trailhead is just below the bottom of the Gravity trail at 6800 feet elevation, just uphill from the top of the Flume Trail.

The upper end of the trail system lies on the Ephraim Canyon Road just below the two developed campgrounds and the top of the Pioneer Trail.

Looking across the Ephraim Canyon Road at the bathroom. There's parking on both sides of the road here. The Gravity trail starts just a bit up the road (to the right in this photo).

The lowest-elevation trail in the system is Gravity. This trail is 0.7 miles long with 250 feet of elevation change. This is an easy trail, suitable for beginners.

An out-and-back from Gravity to the top of Mirkwood and back down would be 10 miles with 1300 vertical feet of climbing.

Looking toward the valley over a rock-lined banked turn on Gravity.

The bottom of the singletrack starts at a small roadside pull-off just 0.1 miles uphill from the main paved parking area. There's only room for one or two cars here, so I suggest you simply pedal uphill from the main parking lot.

Entry to Gravity from the Ephraim Canyon Road.

Gravity is smooth and easy riding, with no steep pitches. Young children may find the slope a bit more work than they'd like.

Like all the trails in this new system, Gravity was machine cut using modern techniques and has been laid out to flow well.

A small grove of gambel oak and maple as we climb up Gravity.

Gravity is a nice ride both uphill and down. From the entry just uphill from the main parking lot, it climbs at a steady pace. Turns are banked for speed; good for climbing and even nicer for descending.

Typical banked turn on Gravity.

Gravity has more open terrain than the other trails in the system. Most of the trail is surrounded by short oak scrub. There are almost constant views of the mountains and valley.

The top of Gravity is at a small roadside pull-out with room for a couple of cars. The trail then continues uphill as Ponderosa.

Looking south.

Ponderosa is a trail segment between the Gravity Trail below and the Stopwatch Trail above. It is 0.8 miles long, with 300 feet of elevation change. Ponderosa is an easy trail for all ability levels.

The Ponderosa Trail also has a lot of short oak scrub for open views.

The terrain surrounding Ponderosa is mostly short oak scrub, so you'll continue to enjoy views in every direction. There's a short stretch as Ponderosa starts uphill that's a bit steeper in pitch than you've seen so far. 

Heading uphill.

As you might expect from the name, there are a few stands of long-leaf pine along the trail.

After the initial climb along a bench-cut, Ponderosa has a more cross-country feel. It spends more time meandering -- and has fewer banked turns -- than Gravity.

Approaching a grove of ponderosa.

As Ponderosa returns to the Ephraim Canyon Road, the trail continues uphill as Stopwatch. There's room for several cars at this upper trailhead, and it seems to be a popular target for hikers.

Lots of pretty scenery!

The Stopwatch Trail begins at a fairly generous parking area off the Ephraim Canyon Road. There's a small long opening to exit Ponderosa, and another opening to enter Stopwatch about 50 feet away.

The entry to Stopwatch, just off the paved road. There were four open-air painters working on their easels here while I made my ride.

Stopwatch is 1.3 miles long, with elevation change of 300 feet. It's also an easy trail and is suitable for beginning riders. At the upper end of Stopwatch, the uphill route continues as the Scandinavian trail.

The bottom of Stopwatch seems to be a popular spot for hikers and nature-lovers to enter the trail system. I encountered a few very senior citizens (besides me) strolling slowly with canes.

Gentle up-and-down riding through meadows and long-leaf pine.

With Stopwatch, the climb turns from generally eastbound to southbound. There's a bit of up-and-down riding but the general tendency is to climb.

Heading into a banked turn on the way uphill.

At mile 0.5 uphill, there's an unmarked (as of June 2021) trail fork. Stopwatch turns left uphill. The trail on the right is a brand-new return from the lower Patriot trail.

Navigation help!

Stopwatch ends on a dirt-road loop parking area. As you exit through the log fence, keep to the right and straight. Head for the main road. In 100 yards, as you reach the gravel on the shoulder of the Ephraim Canyon Road, you'll see the continuing singletrack to your right.

Getting near the top of Stopwatch.

The Scandinavian trail begins alongside the paved road after a very short dirt-road link from Stopwatch. This section is 1.4 miles long, with 150 feet of elevation gain as you go south from the Ephraim Canyon Road. It will end on the gravel Forest Road 051 at the top of the Patriot trail.

Entry to Scandinavian.

The Scandinavian trail contours a small canyon heading south. There's a bit of up-and-down riding as it goes through drainages. Beginning riders would enjoy this trail as an out-and-back, as it has the least climbing of any trail in the system.

Most of this trail is in forest, but there is an occasional break-out with views.

The trail runs parallel to Forest Road 051, but on the deeply forested hillside above it. You may catch a rare glimpse of the gravel road from time to time. There are a couple of primitive camping/picnic spots that back onto the trail.

With increasing elevation, we're seeing aspen and fir.

Mirkwood joins Scandinavian 0.1 miles from its end. If you're climbing to the top, make a hard left turn here.

Scandinavian ends as the trail crosses FR 051. The route continues as the Patriot trail, with the option of looping back to Stopwatch.

Nearing the southern end of Scandinavian. Here the terrain flattens a bit. 

At this time, Mirkwood is the highest-elevation trail in this system. The upper end is on the Ephraim Canyon Road at 8050 feet elevation. It descends -- with more than a little up-and-down -- to join the southern end of Scandinavian.

Looking into Mirkwood from the parking area on the paved road at the top end.

Mirkwood is 1.4 miles in length with 200 feet of overall elevation difference between the north and south ends. It is considered an easy trail, but would require a bit more skill than Scandinavian.

There's a hiking trail forking steeply uphill near the upper trailhead. It extends to the campground just uphill. It's unmarked and I didn't see any bike tracks on it.

Heading uphill on Mirkwood.

As the name implies, a lot of Mirkwood is in deep forest. The longleaf pine has given way to fir and aspen at this elevation. Temperatures were pleasant at mid-day in June while the valley baked in 95-ish heat.

It's a very different forest here from what you see at the warmer and dryer lower elevations.

There's a nice view of Ephraim as the trail briefly hugs a hillside. Most of the ride is in deep forest.

Because of the easy vehicle access to the top of Mirkwood, on weekends it's likely you'll encounter oblivious young riders heading downhill as you climb Mirwood. It's OK. Just ride. Nobody hired you as the trail policeman.

View from Mirkwood as the trail breaks out on a side-slope.

Near Mirkwood's southern end, a fairly steep and unmarked motorcycle route crosses. This raw trail climbs to the lake at the campground. I saw no bicycle tracks to indicate that riders are using this route.

Mirkwood ends on southern Scandinavian about 0.1 miles from Patriot. If you're descending from the upper trailhead, you now have two options for your downhill. A hard right puts you northbound on Scandinavian, while continuing straight takes you to Patriot.

Mirkwood and Scandinavian join.

The Patriot trail is rated intermediate, but most experienced beginning riders would be able to do this trail in the downhill direction. While it's officially a two-way trail -- default Forest Service policy -- I think few riders will chose to do it uphill. As the trail firms up, it may become a more satisfying climb.

Entry to Patriot. There's room to park here on Forest Road 051.

Patriot is 1.4 miles long, descending 400 vertical feet. The downhill flow isn't consistent, though. Once the surface has been packed firmly and the riding lines roll better, it may be possible to blow through the slightly-uphill sections like a true flow trail.

An S formed by two banked turns.

In June 2021, Patriot still has some rough edges. It needs a bit of fine-tuning here and there. But mostly it requires quite a few more bike tires to work-in the lines and compact the trail. It's still a bit loose, and not as satisfying to ride uphill or down as the other trails in the system.

Note that the older trail down this slope, called Maple Syrup by locals, has been closed off.

Looking down toward the valley.

At 1/4 mile from the bottom of Patriot, a new (in June 2021) trail forks away to the right. This trail heads north and connects to Stopwatch for a loop ride.

Patriot continues downhill to end on a dirt road.

The doubletrack is just across the creek at the bottom of Patriot.

The dirt road heads north for just over a mile, hitting the Ephraim Canyon Road just uphill from the start of the Flume Trail. It's not a horrible ride, but I think most riders would prefer to take the new trail to Stopwatch and descend from there to reach Flume.

Doubletrack heading toward the Flume trail.

The trail connecting lower Patriot to the middle of Stopwatch is named Badger, new in 2021. It is legal to ride while crews do finishing touches.

Based on my ride, you may need to deal with a culvert awaiting installation, and clamber over a barbed-wire fence that hasn't yet been replaced by a ride-over.

Looking north.

This segment is 1.3 miles long. There will be up-and-down riding over the length of the trail without any overall change of elevation. This trail completes a lariat-loop ride of Scandinavian and Patriot when it joins Stopwatch.

The trail winds up and down, in and out of forest.

Bottom Line!

I'll award this system my highest rating. It's a nice easy trail system, well-constructed and laid out intelligently, with awesome views. It will be a hit with families who ride with pre-teens. The nearby campgrounds make this system a good choice for groups and families.

Getting there:  On US-89 in Ephraim, go to 400 south and turn east towards the mountains. At 300 East, turn right. You're now on state road 29, the Ephraim Canyon Road. Drive into the canyon and climb  around 3 miles uphill. When you see paved parking on both sides of the road, with a bathroom on your left, that's the main parking area. The entry to the Gravity Trail is 100 yards up the paved road on your right.

There are four small roadside parking spots at points where the trail comes to the Ephraim Canyon road. The final entry is just before the Lake Hill Campground turnoff.

Bathroom:  Main parking, Lake Hill Campground

Riding resources for this trail:
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
      Ephraim Canyon trails, multi-track file
Map above for printing:  View map in new window
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to south Utah Co resources

Copyright 2021 UtahMountainBiking
division of Mad Scientist Software Inc