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Pine Forest Trail
Payson Pipeline and More Cowbones Summer

The Pine Forest Trail has three parallel routes that are used by bikes. The trails are located in lower Payson Canyon, starting across from the Forebay trail system and extending to Maple Dell. The usual riding season will be June through October. The Pine Forest trail goes to (and through) a small forest of huge long-leaf pine at the highest elevation of the route.

The Pine Forest Trail climbs through tall long-leaf pine. Photos and trail review by Bruce on July 1, 2021.

The trails include (1) the historic lower Pine Forest trail (listed as Pipeline Alternate on the Trailforks app) with an alternate new winding route (called More Cowbones Summer on Trailforks), (2) the upper Pine Forest Trail to Maple Dell, and (3) the Payson Pipeline trail. The new trail crosses over the Pipeline and lower Pine Forest a couple of times. There's one spot where things get confusing if you're fussy about which specific trail you want to be on. Hopefully the trail descriptions below will help.

View up the Payson Pipeline. Both of the trails are the Pipeline.

Pine Forest Trail  (Connector, More Cowbones Summer, plus upper Pine Forest Trail)
For this trail page I'm going to designate "Pine Forest" as consisting of the connector from the Nebo Loop Road, the winding singletrack in the lower canyon (More Cowbones Summer), plus the upper Pine Forest trail up to Maple Dell. This route is 2.2 miles, with 500 vertical feet of climbing.

Note that the top end of Pine Forest lies within the Maple Dell scout camp. This is not public land, and you should check for any signs indicating a change in permission to ride the access road to or from the singletrack. Never ever "explore" or ride around within the camp.

Entry to the singletrack Pine Forest trail. This 0.2-mile segment leads to a fork where left takes you uphill on the new Pine Forest, and straight takes you out to the Payson Pipeline.

The trail is very heavily forested, starting with maple and oak, then the occasional fir, then long-leaf pine. You'll only find a couple of open glances at the surrounding mountains.

Riding through maple forest as we leave the Nebo Loop Road.

On the lower end, the Pine Forest trail begins on the west side of the Nebo Loop Road, just 100 yards uphill from the new paved Forebay parking area. It's about 100 feet downhill across the road from the old gated JMC entry to Forebay. Look for a wide shoulder on the right side of the Nebo Loop Road with a narrow paved and gated private road on your left as you drive up-canyon. There's an unmarked singletrack heading northwest into the trees just downhill from the little road.

A rare break-out where we can see a bit of the canyon.

At 0.2 miles, there's a trail fork. Turn left uphill to continue climbing up Pine Forest. (The right fork goes to the Payson Pipeline trail just uphill from the gate above the equestrian parking area.)

Heading south uphill. This is narrow hand-built trail.


In short order, the trail will cross over the old Pine Forest trail (Pipeline Alternate) three times. It will then go on to a series of back-and-forth meanders that give you a break from climbing.

The trail approaches the first of several groves of long-leaf pine.

At mile 1.0 from the Nebo Loop Road, the trail crosses the Pipeline. Depending on cow and horse traffic, the Payson Pipeline "trail" may actually consist of three or four parallel trails that intertwine. Keep straight as you cross the open area with however-many trails.

On the last segment of the new More Cowbone Summer trail before it merges with the historic Pine Forest trail.

At mile 1.3, you're again back to the pipeline. Again, cross several trails and go into the trees on the far side. The final trail you cross is the old Pine Forest trail (Pipeline Alternate). Make a note.

Looking east over Payson Canyon.

At mile 1.5 the trail comes back toward the pipeline and merges with a trail from the pipeline area. This trail is the old Pine Forest trail. Keep straight and uphill.

The trail begins to descend as it approaches camp Maple Dell.

At mile 1.9, turn left at the trail fork. The right fork is a climb to the picnic area at the top of camp Maple Dell -- not open to the general public. If you explore this trail, turn around when you hit a gate.

The trail then gradually descends to the bottom of Maple Dell. There's a small gate at the property border. If you're doing an out-and-back ride, turn around here. If you feel you must get out to the Nebo Loop Road, watch closely for any sign indicating a restriction on riding through. If it seems OK, proceed down to the dirt road on the edge of the camp.

This gate marks Maple Dell property. If you're doing an out-and-back, this is a good spot to turn around. And if it's been posted as closed, turn around.

To head out to the Nebo Loop Road, go left downhill, then veer right through the camp's private gravel parking area. Turn left onto the main camp road. (Again: do NOT ride around on the camp roads or trails!) As you exit through the main camp gate, turn left and go 100 feet down the road to the public parking lot.

A loop ride option is to take the Canal Trail from the Maple Dell public parking on the Nebo Loop Road and descend through the Forebay trails.

This is the trail exit near the lodge. To exit, follow the road down and out.

Old Pine Forest Trail  (AKA Pipeline Alternate)
Many riders use the pipeline or the Old Pine Forest Trail (Pipeline Alternate) for their descent. The twists on the new trail are great for climbing, but the turning and tree-dodging can feel a bit clumsy and slow on the downhill.

An old stock pond with a water trough on the old Pine Forest Trail.

Shortly after Pine Forest turns to the north and begins to descend, you'll come to a trail fork. The right fork puts you on the More Cowbone Summer trail. Go left for either the Pipeline or the Alternate. For the old trail (Pipeline Alternate) keep as far right as you can and find the trail that veers slowly into the trees.

The trail is fairly smooth on this upper segment, because the hump of the stock pond interrupts the flow of water down the trail.

The trail will gradually become wider and deeper, with more loose rock. Once you hit the wide, old-appearing area, it's a pretty straight shot downhill. After crossing the new trail three times, the Pipeline Alternate emerges from the trees onto the pipeline corridor. Merge with the Pipeline trail.

The old trail is a "fall line" path that washes downhill with rains. In many areas, it will resemble a shallow dry creek bed.

If you're heading back to the singletrack trailhead near the creek, hook hard right as you reach the fence. Next keep left at the trail fork and descend 0.2 miles to the road.

Looking uphill at a trenched section.

Payson Pipeline Trail
The Payson Pipeline trail lies on a wide corridor starting at the equestrian area on the west side of the Nebo Loop road. Many riders come from higher in the canyon as a drop-off ride, continuing out to Payson on the road. This page will cover only the portion from Maple Dell down.

Looking down the Pipeline from higher in the canyon.

You can climb the Pipeline. It's a fairly steady grunt, and the surface is often loose. The corridor is used by horsemen for recreation or to move cattle to and from higher pastures. In some areas it's just one trail; in others it's three or four braided paths.

Probably the main advantage to the Payson Pipeline, riding speed aside, are the open views. You'll see very little of the surrounding hills while on Pine Forest.

Looking up the corridor. Paths diverge and merge, and some washed-out paths have been abandoned.

To use the Payson Pipeline as a descent from Pine Forest, just take the left side at the first trail fork. Once you hit the open corridor, take any of the paths that stay within the cleared area.

Approaching the equestrian trailhead.

Getting there:
Take the Payson Main Street Exit 250 from I-15 and turn south towards town. Drive into Payson on U-115 to the traffic light, then turn left on 100 North, U-198. About 1/3 mile later, at a traffic light on the top of a small hill, turn right at 600 East. Drive up the Nebo Loop Road.
Pipeline parking: Drive to mile 4.5 and turn right into the large staging area near the uphill end of the corrals. Go through the gate and find the singletrack heading south uphill.
Forebay parking: At mile 4.6 since turning off Highway 198 in Payson, turn left into the large paved parking area. Now pedal your bike up the paved road 0.1 miles. At a spot with parking on the right shoulder and a small private gated roadway, find the singletrack heading up the slope 150 degrees to your right.
Roadside parking:  After passing the Forebay parking lot, pull off the road at the next spot with wide shoulders. Do not block the paved pathway. Find the un-marked singletrack.
Maple Dell parking:  Drive uphill to mile 5.8. As you see the signs for the Maple Dell scout camp up the road on the right, turn left into the paved parking area.  There's a bathroom near the entrance. Now go back to the road and pedal 100 feet uphill, turning right through the camp gates. Take the next right and go through the private parking area. Turn left uphill (don't keep straight at the end of the parking area) on dirt road and find the trail sign and singletrack 100 yards uphill. Do NOT explore within the camp, and always check for any signs indicating that access to the trail from Maple Dell is closed.
Riding resources for this trail:
Forebay trail page
GPS track files and route (right-click and "Save as..."):
     Multi-track area GPX file
Above map in separate window for printing:  View map
Lodging, camping, shops:    Links to south Utah County resources

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