American Fork Canyon: Mountain Bike Trails are OPEN

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After a long ski season (I’m not really complaining), the upper-elevation trails are taking their own sweet time to thaw.  Thanks to a cooler-than-average Spring, the snowpack has remained intact.  So much so that if you drove up to Alta or Snowbird, you’d swear it was November or December up there.  We needed the snow and I loved the ski season, but I’m ready for some high-altitude singletrack… American Fork Canyon style.

After pinging the crew on UtahMountainBiking.com for trail beta, I quickly received first-hand confirmation that the intended trail route was 100% rideable and getting drier by the day.  “Wow,” I thought.  “And all this time I’d been thinking it was unrideable.”

Well, truth be told, it has been unrideable up until the most recent week or so of dry and hot weather.  We’ve been in the upper-80’s and low-90’s for at lest a week and it has made quick work of the exposed trails in the area.  Lets see just how good it is.

Jason Mitchell in American Fork Canyon - Rocky Mountain Slayer SXC70

My “Perfect Loop” Ride… is it Still “Perfect?”

Up American Fork Canyon, Utah, there are a number of rideable trails.  Some of the more popular involve shuttling, but we would avoid that type of laziness by doing what I like to call “The Perfect Loop.”  Perfect in that there is a fair amount of climbing and descending (2100 ft) with all of it earned by my own muscles and hard work.  This loop is typically about a 2-hour ride, so with a 7:00 am start, we’d be in and out before the equestrians and motorcycles get out in full force.

The route starts at the Timpooneke trailhead parking lot on Trail 150, climbs to Trail 159 and continues all the way to the ridge.  From there, you take Trail 252 down towards Cascade Springs and then follow it back up to the Ridge Trail 157.  From there, its back down to Trail 047, then to Trail 150 and then back to the Timpooneke trailhead parking lot. You get a great amount of climbing and descending–all on excellent singletrack trails.

The Dawn Patrol on two wheels is awesome.  Just like winter Dawn Patrols, you typically get the mountains to yourself with the crisp morning air and amazing morning light.

American Fork Canyon Mountain Bike Loop

Trail Conditions

My ride of choice for the day was the Rocky Mountain Slayer SXC70 on loan from the local Rocky Mountain sales rep.  I’ve got it for a few weeks, so this trail would be the perfect innaugural ride. The Slayer felt a bit slow uphill, but once things turned downhill… HOLY SMOKES!  The low center-of-gravity and awesome suspension make for one of the best descending 6-inch travel bike I’ve ridden.  Look for a full review of the Rocky Mountain Slayer in the coming weeks.

Back to the trail, the conditions right now are perfect. With just one boggy section going down Trail 252, the rest of the trail is soft and tacky with some areas getting downright dusty already.  I didn’t realize how quickly things must have thawed over the past couple of weeks.

The loop was completed with huge smiles on our faces, but I was disappointed at the quantity of bikers going in the opposite direction.  It turns out that many folks seem to think that short, steep climbs and shallow long descents are preferred to drawn-out climbs and fun and fast downhill.  I stopped and chatted with another rider who thought I was a little kooky for going the direction we did.  I was a bit perplexed because in the past 10 years of riding this loop, I have never seen such a horde going in the opposite direction, but then again I’ve never ridden it on a Saturday.

So, my “Perfect Loop” is still one of the best 2-hour rides in American Fork Canyon, but apparently I’m not drinking the same Kool-aid as everyone else these days.  Either that, or someone decided to push an underground movement to ride the trail in the opposite direction.  It turns out that many of these folks had parked at the summit, which is even more odd because they would end their ride on a grindy grindy climb that would not be a heck of a lot of fun.

Oh well… to each his own, I’m sticking with my counterclockwise loop, but will try to ride it during the week to avoid the hordes. Believe me, if you want to get the best downhill and the most rideable uphill, take the loop counterclockwise, then thank me later by chiming in below. But, maybe I’ll follow the horde one of these days to see how it compares.

Jason Mitchell Riding in American Fork Canyon on a Rocky Mountain Slayer SXC70

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

14 Comments

  1. Shaun Robbins on

    Your old neighbor here. Nice work on the website. I think I am going to take Jeff Devey and ride your suggested route tomorrow morning. I have done it in the clockwise direction numerous times based on route on Utah Mountain Biking. Thanks for the info!

  2. Nice! We should hook up for a ride now that I’m back in the area.

    Yeah, the route I suggest is awesome. I need to try it reverse to see what all the hubbub is about. Just be aware that there may be hordes of folks going in the opposite direction.

  3. I just did this same ride this morning. What a great way to get 2000 vertical feet of climbing and descending in–all before 9:00 am! I was on the new Ellsworth Evolve 29-er and loved it for this ride. It climbs really well and is super stable at speed. What a great bike!

  4. Me again. so i’ve never been mountain biking before but I need to knwo what we need to stay fit and clean with our bodies as we go. Thanks!

  5. @Jackson

    I’m not so sure exactly what you’re looking for, my friend. First off, are you in Utah, coming to Utah or elsewhere? That would help with riding recommendations.

    So, it appears that you’re a first-time mountain biker, right? Do you have a bike? What other equipment do you have?

    I’m not sure what you mean by “stay fit and clean with our bodies”… are you talking exercise routines, eating habits, showering habits or all of the above? 🙂

  6. I don’t know what i meant by saying that either. But I have gone mountain biking but not “extreme”. I live in Lehi, Utah. SO ya I live in utah. I have a bike and some other stuff. But I need to know where the best biking spots are around the Utah county area.

    I FOUND YOU LOOKING ON The internet and reallize you are a skiier and not a biker so I should be talking to someone more experienced.

    DO you live in mapleton? You have a “gold gym” membership don’t you.

    Thanks-Jack

  7. OK… I’m still a bit confused with some of your comments. I mountain bike AND ski, so if you’re looking for riding or skiing info, you’ve come to the right place.

    Mapleton… nope. I live in Cedar Hills.

    Gold’s Gym… I try to avoid that place like the plague.

    As far as local riding conditions and locations, I’d say head on over to http://www.UtahMountainBiking.com. Bruce maintains one of the most thorough trail sites for Utah. American Fork Canyon rocks and is very close to Lehi. Corner Canyon in Draper has a ton of trails. And, Eagle Mountain is building a trail system also. Provo has a fair amount with the Shoreline Trail good in some locations (singletrack vs. doubletrack).

    Browse UtahMountainBiking.com and you’ll find detailed info on hundreds of local trails. Good luck!

  8. You’re not going to get very far… still LOTS of snow up there.

    Might I suggest Lambert Park in Alpine or Corner Canyon in Draper. If you do go to the Corner Canyon area, obey the posted signs as some of the trails (Clark’s Trail specifically) don’t dry out for awhile.

  9. Have you heard what the trail conditions are like now? I heard a rumor they are rideable with only a few spots of bad mud that needs to be walked.

  10. Justin… I went for a ride yesterday morning first thing. The weather was perfect, but I’m sad to report that the trails are in the worst condition I’ve ever seen them. Not only has the runoff been unkind to them this year, but the damage caused by motorcycles has rendered much of my favorite trails unrideable and/or dangerous. Hit it knowing that you will have to walk much of South Fork Deer Creek and nearly all of the Mud Springs area.

    The trails are no longer draining due to the large ruts placed in them by careless motorcyclists. It’s really disappointing as the actions of a few riders are putting a damper on the rideability of the entire area.

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