||Squaw Peak Downhill
(Buffalo Peak, Little Rock Canyon, Overlook Trail, Squaw Peak DH)
The Squaw Peak downhill route descends northbound through
the Squaw Peak area east of the Provo foothills. It's popular with the
local gravity crowd. There are several variations of this ride. What I'll suggest is a 6.5 mile
ride descending from
Buffalo Peak that detours over to Luna's Trail -- this route is quick to shuttle
and hits the good stuff. Most riders will do this ride using a shuttle,
but there are fun climbing routes, and the
DH can be done on an XC bike.
View of the Orem area to the northwest. Photos and ride description July 8, 2016 by Bruce.
Updated June 2018.
|Squaw Peak can be a mess of competing trails and road links.
There's a high chance you'll get lost for a minute or two. But the
area has fine mobile phone reception. So assuming your phone is GPS-enabled,
find yourself on the screen and figure it out.
Hero riders will crank
up the Squaw Peak Road on their bikes. (Seriously, the roadies do it all
day. Note that in the
early morning hours, the paved road is used by longboarders, whose
steering ability is limited. The road turns from pavement to gravel near the Hope
Campground.) You can also climb the narrow singletrack of the Squaw
Peak Circles and the upper Stakeout
Rocketing north on the Little Rock Canyon portion of
the downhill, heading toward Mount Timpanogos. Some of this ride is very
Your options for non-shuttle, non-pavement climbing...
1 - Straight up. Nobody does this. It is possible to ride most of
this trail in the uphill direction. But there are some
steep sections with loose cobble, where even if your legs can do it, the tires
won't. So if you're determined to do this trail uphill as an out-and-back, plan for a bit of
push-a-bike. And be prepared to dodge downhillers who weren't expecting
somebody riding up the trail.
Looking back south toward Buffalo Peak. We've just
finished the Overlook Trail, seen in mid-photo. Seems nice here, but
further uphill, it's ugly.
|2 - Rock Canyon. Are you out of your mind? Unpleasant,
steep, loose. 1900 vertical in 3.4 miles as you grunt from 5100 feet
elevation at the mouth of Rock Canyon to the Rock Canyon picnic area then
the Squaw Peak Road at 7000. But some riders do this, mostly pushing their
bikes. From the top of Rock Canyon a two-mile climb on the paved road (rising another 600 vertical)
gets you to the Buffalo Peak Trail.
Peak from the Overlook. Pretty easy cruising here, although a bit chunky.
||3 - Indian Hills. Catch the lower Bonneville Shoreline (also
called the Indian Hills Trail) east of the Canyon Road at its north end. Grunt on up. Fork south on the upper BST, then back north on the
Cactus Hill connector. Take the road up to the next hairpin turn and grab
the west singletrack of Squaw Peak Circles
uphill, then the "Dell trails."
View of the
soiuthern end of Utah Lake from the Buffalo Peak trail.
|4 - Squaw Peak Parking lot. On the left, one mile up
the Squaw Peak Road. This spot is where you'll wind up if you follow my route
described below. (You can climb by road or dirt from here.) From the parking area, climb singletrack to
the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Turn right, then take the connector uphill
to the Squaw Peak Circles. Follow the main
route (staying generally southbound uphill) through Lacey's Loops, then
climb the upper Stakeout trails. Each time the trail seems to stop on a road, find the
unmarked subtle continuing singletrack to keep going uphill. You can ride
singletrack all the way to Buffalo Peak. If you get lost, grind the gravel
of the road.
Looking up Provo Canyon near the end of the ride.
So you decided to shuttle? Places to find the trail from
1 - Squaw Peak Overlook Trail Drop-in
At the fork in the Squaw Peak Road at mile 4.2, go to the right and climb
to the Squaw Peak Overlook at 6700 feet elevation. The trail is just below
the parking strip. From here, your ride will be 4.4 miles. But you'll miss
the best stuff.
View north of Timpanogos from 7700 feet elevation.
|2 - Squaw Peak Back Trail Drop-in
The Squaw Peak Overlook Back Trail starts on the right side of the road,
where the road makes a hairpin turn to the left, 1.4 miles uphill from the
Overlook road fork (5.6 from Highway 189 in Provo Canyon). This segment is
0.7 miles long, dropping from 7050 feet to 6700 at the Squaw Peak Overlook
parking. The trail skirts the pavement on the downhill side of the parking
strip then continues as the Squaw Peak Trail. From here, it's 5.0 miles to
Gap jump on Little Rock Canyon. Yeah,
there's some silliness on these trails, but you can simply ride around.
||3 - Buffalo Peak Trail Drop-in
The Buffalo Peak Trail segment starts at around mile 7.7 of the Squaw Peak
Road. It will be on your right as the road crosses a saddle area. If you
begin descending in your car, you went too far.
Pedal uphill 0.3 miles on the Buffalo Peak trail, then fork to the
right on the Little Rock Canyon trail. Drop from 7700 feet back to 7300.
For the most popular route, coast 0.4 miles down the gravel road,
then turn left to the Squaw Peak (DH) Back Trail. If you start at Buffalo Peak it's 6.5 miles down to parking.
At the Buffalo Peak trail. Left uphill. Yes,
We're riding now! Notes on the route...
||Buffalo Peak Trail
From the opening in the fence, turn left uphill on the Buffalo Peak
trail. (Straight ahead is Ashleedell; right northbound is a descent to
"party sites" in the little valley below the road.) We'll be
heading uphill to catch the Little Rock Canyon trail on the ridgeline just
below Buffalo Peak.
Note: The Buffalo Peak viewpoint is nice. It's hike-a-bike to get up
there, but everybody needs to do it once. Then backtrack to the Little
Rock Canyon trail fork. It will add about 1/2 mile to your distance.
Aspen, chokecherry, and lush trailside vegetation on Buffalo Peak.
|From the Squaw Peak road, Buffalo Peak
climbs 100 vertical feet over 0.3 miles. The trail alternates between
grass meadow, mules ear flowers, and groves of aspen.
Pedal to the ridgeline, then turn right downhill on Little Rock
Almost to the ridgeline on Buffalo Peak as we climb
through a meadow of Mules Ear.
||Little Rock Canyon trail
The Little Rock Canyon trail runs straight north, gently descending at
first. It gets a bit steep as it drops through maple and aspen forest, but
never gets too techy. This first section of the downhill will descend 400
vertical feet over 0.7 miles.
At mile 0.6, you'll pass the big gap jump. This is the spot where
Ashleedell forks away (east of the jump) if you want to climb back to the
Downhill, early on Little Rock. Who says DH trails
can't be pretty?
|At mile 0.7 from the Buffalo Peak trail, the trail enters a
clearing "party zone." 90 degrees right will take you 100 feet
to the Squaw Peak road. Keep straight to continue downhill on Little Rock
Canyon. Note that the path to the left, right on the edge of the hill, is
the Overlook trail. It's a bit more techy. See below for this ride option.
Dropping downhill through shoulder-high plants in an
aspen and maple grove.
||Little Rock Canyon continues another 0.4 miles downhill,
dropping another 200 vertical feet. It ends on the gravel Squaw Peak Road.
Turn to the left. Descend to the right-hand turn in the road. Immediately
as you exit the turn, find the Squaw Peak DH on your left.
Almost to the spot where we take Little Rock Canyon
versus Overlook. It's in the saddle just ahead.
|Option: Squaw Peak Overlook Trail
||The Squaw Peak Overlook trail hugs the steep sideslope of
the mountain. The trail is very narrow, often bumpy and frequently steep,
and it's unforgiving if you mess up. I didn't care much for this piece of
trail. Only aggressive experts should take this route.
Little Rocky gets ready for some techy riding on the
narrow and unforgiving Overlook Trail.
|The Overlook trail runs from the clearing where Little Rock
Canyon almost touches the road, down to the paved Squaw Peak Overlook
parking area. It's 1.1 miles, with around 150 feet of climbing and 700
feet of descending. As mentioned, the sideslope is steep alongside the
Looking north. There will be steep descents and
occasional tough short climbs.
||When riding downhill south-to-north, there's one spot where
you may go wrong. At 0.3 miles from the clearing, you're pedaling steeply
uphill when you reach a trail fork. Don't take this first fork! Many have,
and they wind up hiking uphill to the "real" trail. Keep right
and go uphill another 30 feet and take the 2nd left.
Looking southwest on the Overlook Trail. The
sideslope falls away pretty steeply.
|At this trail fork, the trail straight ahead is the Overlook
Connector. If you're thinking you want to bail out from the Overlook
trail, keep right and uphill to the top. You'll be trading hot sideslope
exposure for a cool downhill romp through meadows and forest on the
Overlook Connector. It will drop you out on the turn in the Squaw Peak
where you can connect to the Squaw Peak DH (Back Trail) 100 feet later.
Limestone ledges on a flatter wider stretch of trail.
||From the trail fork the Overlook trail continues another 0.8
miles north to the parking lot of the Squaw Peak Overlook. As you skirt
the stone barrier on the downhill side, you're now on the Squaw Peak DH.
Almost done. That's a truck in the parking lot of the
Overlook just ahead. The trail is easy here.
Back to PLAN A: Squaw Peak DH (Back) Trail
||This next part assumes you did NOT take the Overlook Trail,
but continued to descend Little Rock Canyon until it ended on the gravel
road. Then you turned left for a short distance on the road.
Once you reach the top of the Squaw Peak DH on the gravel Squaw Peak
Road -- whether you arrived via the Little
Rock Canyon trail or the Overlook Connector -- you'll turn north and left
off the Squaw Peak road onto the singletrack. At first, it's a gentle and
Maple forest on the Squaw Peak Back Trail, aka Squaw
|After 0.1 mile, Ellendell forks away to the right. Keep
straight on the main trail.
At around mile 0.4, the trail begins to drop more steeply toward the
Overlook. On its way to the Overlook parking lot, the Squaw Peak DH drops 500 vertical feet over 0.7
miles, with most of that coming in the second half.
Rolling through a meadow on the smoother flatter
||Squaw Peak trail
At the Squaw Peak Overlook, you're at around mile 2.1 of the descent. Keep
just downhill from the rock wall of the parking strip, and you'll continue
downhill. The trail will widen as it joins an old
Rolling downhill in the morning shadows on the lower
Squaw Peak trail. It's a wide fall-line ditch at this point.
When the wide loose main trail turns to the left and plunges sharply
west downhill, go with it. The nicer narrow trail to your right just drops to the
paved road, and you're not ready to do that yet. (Or maybe you are. If you
take the right fork, the road will take you to an entry to the Squaw
Peak circle trails -- either uphill or down. See the map.)
A peak at Timpanogos across the valley as we turn
At mile 3.5, at the apex of the second 150-degree left turn, find the Bonneville
Shoreline Trail heading north on your right. (If you miss it, the
gravel roads will take you down to the city. Backtrack if you approach
buildings.) Just a few feet downhill from the BST is the Cactus Hill
Trail, which is not the one you want.
And we're now on the Bonneville Shoreline, heading
|Cactus Hill Connector
After 0.7 miles on the upper BST, fork right on the Cactus
Hill Connector Trail.(If you descend to arrive at a T-intersection with
a flat singletrack, you've reached the lower BST, and you missed Cactus
Hill. Correct trail = goes over bald area; wrong trail = descends down a
canyon.) Cactus Hill Connector will hit paved road at mile 4.5, where you should
go to the right uphill on paved road.
Riding through maple forest on the Cactus Hill
Crank up the road 0.4 miles and find the unmarked entry to
Luna's Trail at a spot where there's gravel shoulder on the left. Head
straight downhill -- the trail fork to your right goes over to the
circle trails. Luna's will hit the Bonneville
Shoreline at mile 5.9 in an area of doubletrack and disturbance. Find
the singletrack eastbound (up the canyon).
A banked turn on Luna's heads into a jump. Luna's trail descends through maple, box elder, and
BST Access Trail to parking
Follow the BST as it traverses the hillside eastbound. After half a
mile (6.1 of your ride), watch carefully for a singletrack exiting the BST
on your left downhill. Follow this trail down to parking, keeping straight
as another trail crosses over.
Parking lot on the Squaw Peak Road! We're looking
back east at the trail as it enters.
|Riding notes for descending:
0.0 Buffalo Peak Trail, R of road
N40 16.952 W111 36.312
1.0 L on paved road N40 17.458 W111 36.806
1.4 L onto Squaw Pk Overlk Back
N40 17.760 W111 37.050
2.1 Keep straight below parking
N40 18.147 W111 37.592
Squaw Peak Overlook Trail
2.7 L downhill on wide trail
N40 18.500 W111 37.925
3.5 R on singletrack (upper BST)
N40 18.143 W111 38.230
|4.2 R on Cactus Hill Connector
N40 18.590 W111 38.283
4.5 R uphill on paved road
N40 18.837 W111 38.183
4.9 L on Luna's Trail
N40 18.740 W111 37.840
(in 10 ft keep L, R = to
5.9 90 degrees R (east) for BST
N40 19.237 W111 38.035
6.1 L downhill off BST
N40 19.118 W111 37.814
6.3 Keep straight N40 19.282 W111 37.872
6.5 At parking
Lower Squaw Peak Road TH: On US-189 eastbound about a mile up the
canyon, turn right on the Squaw Peak Road. Drive one mile uphill and turn
left into the large parking area. Return to the road for a pavement climb,
or find singletrack at the uphill east end. N40 19.393 W111 37.956
Squaw Peak Overlook: On the Squaw Peak Road at mile 4.2 from US-189,
go to the right to the Squaw Peak Overlook. The trail is just west
(downhill) from the road. There's paved parking at the overlook and
roadside parking downhill. N40 18.075 W111 37.514
Squaw Peak DH (Back) Trail: Mile 5.6 from 189, on the right as the
gravel road turns
sharply left. N40 17.756 W111 37.052
Upper Overlook/Little Rock Canyon: On the right as the road
turns left at mile 6.1 N40 17.458 W111 36.806. The Overlook trail is the
northbound smaller trail closest to the edge; Little Rock Canyon heads
north into the woods.
Buffalo Peak Trail: On the right at mile 7.7 from 189, as the road
reaches its top elevation and crosses a saddle. N40 16.952 W111 36.312
BST Nunn's Park TH: Eastbound in Provo Canyon on US-189, go two miles up Provo Canyon
to the Nunns
Park exit and turn right into the parking lot. Pedal uphill on paved trail,
then turn right on the BST singletrack N40 20.280 W111 36.475.
Indian Hills: Just before Canyon Road merges onto University Avenue,
and just past the last homes, turn uphill toward the water tank. Go 1/10
mile, then find a northbound trail on your left.