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.
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.
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.