||Tooele's Settlement Canyon
Left Hand Fork
Settlement Canyon lies at the southeast corner of Tooele, right at the
edge of town. It's surprisingly pretty, well-forested, and dramatically
cooler than Tooele. The Right Hand Fork has
the easy Dark Trail, while the Left Hand Fork's bike trails are for
Bruce climbs the Bottom Trail -- at this point the
main Left Hand Fork trail -- approaching Bear Trap Pass. Photos and trail
tracks July 13, 2018 by Bruce.
|The trail system starts at the Left Hand Fork trailhead at
Spring Flats. You'll need to pay an entry fee to the canyon if you park
and start your ride here. That's a good option if your group is doing a
picnic or hanging out in the canyon after the ride.
Most riders begin riding from the large parking area just before the
fee station (see the "Getting there" instruction below). At this
time (July 2018), there's no charge to bike or walk into the canyon.
The beginning of the Left Hand Fork trail system on
the paved Right Hand Fork Road, across from the parking area.
||There are about 9 miles of trail in the Left Hand Fork, with
a wide variety of possible riding combinations. For riders who are new to
the area, I'm going to suggest that you start with a climb on the
doubletrack along the Camp Wapiti fence, then take the Bottom Trail
uphill. This can deliver you to all the other ride possibilities.
A view down the Muddy Trail, with nice singletrack
hugging the sideslope under a canopy of tall maples.
From the entry gate to Bear Trap Pass...
||Getting to the Left Hand Fork trail
As you coast downhill on the paved road, the first trail you see is the
Dark Trail on your right at mile 0.1 from
the fee station. Keep going. At 1/2 mile, the Camp Wapiti road forks left.
Many riders choose to simply pedal up that road. But keep right and ride a
little further. Across from the parking entry to Spring Flats, there's a trail
on the uphill
(left) side of the road. That's the Left Hand Fork Trail.
Climbing uphill through a forest of maple and oak.
|Getting to Camp Wapiti
Pedal up the broad path. At mile 0.2 from the road, there's a signed
route heading steeply uphill on your right. This trail connects to the
Muddy Trail. Keep straight.
At mile 0.4, there's a trail fork as you approach the Camp Wapiti road.
The Left Hand Fork trail goes to the left across the road. (To the right
takes you up to the Muddy Trail.) Cross the road. After 100 feet the singletrack will
merge with doubletrack along the side of the paved road as it approaches
We've arrived at the Camp Wapiti road. Across from
us, this sign marks the continuing trail uphill. Or, we could just pedal
up the road.
||Finding the doubletrack to the Bottom Trail
As you approach the gates of Camp Wapiti, the Left Hand Fork trail is
the singletrack on your left. Go there. An immediate trail fork divides the route
into the Bench Trail (left) and the connector to the Bottom Trail. Go
right, and you'll arrive at a gravel road just outside the Camp Wapiti fence.
This doubletrack is the easy way uphill, leading directly to the
singletrack of the Bottom Trail.
Near the fence of Camp Wapiti, on the left side of
the parking area, this singletrack is the link to both Bottom and Bench.
|Uphill on the Bottom Trail
You'll spend 0.7 miles on the doubletrack climbing steadily. As the
gravel road ends at an enclosure, go to the right of the fence and find
the singletrack. As you hit the bump of the buried water line, the trail
will fork. Keep left to stay on the Bottom Trail (the easiest way uphill). The trail to the right is a connector over to Muddy.
We're near the bottom of the Bottom Trail, heading
uphill. The forest is tall old maples and fir.
||Bottom, as the name implies, stays in the bottom of the
draw, all the way up to Bear Trap Pass. After 0.4 miles on the Bottom
singletrack, you'll reach the main connector to the Muddy trail, forking
sharply away on your right. A few feet uphill, a connector to the Bench
Trail forks away on your left. (In July 2018, each of these trails was
marked with a ribbon tied around a tree but no trail sign.)
The Bottom trail takes a detour around deadfall.
|It will take another mile of climbing on Bottom to reach
Bear Trap Pass. The total climbing on the 1.4 miles of singletrack is 850
vertical feet, a do-able but taxing rate of ascent. For the most part, the
trail is smooth and tech-free. But there will be spots where you must
follow a trailbreak route around a fallen tree or bump over a small log.
Bruce cranks uphill. Almost to the top, as the maple
forest gives way to aspen.
||You'll know you're at Bear Trap Pass when you can see
something besides trees. There's a little meadow with a view to the
Continue through the meadow until you approach a fence at the top of the
Entering the meadow at Bear Trap Pass. From here, the
Bench trail is to our left, around the middle of the meadow. The Ridge
trail is in the right, just after the meadow ends.
Descending from Bear Trap Pass...
||Now you'll need to decide on the next part of your ride.
Among your options are: (1) backtrack exactly as you came up. (2)
start back down on Bottom, transferring over to Muddy or Bench after one
mile. (3) immediately take the Bench Trail for a loop ride. (4) take the
Ridge trail around to Muddy for a more-techy loop. (5) go straight onto
the Bear Trap Pass trail for a loop that puts your downhill on the Dark Trail.
Handlebar view as we descend the Bottom trail.
|The remainder of the page will discuss the other trails in
the Left Hand Fork, both as climbers and descenders. Pick your route.
The downhill is very nice! Bottom is easy; Muddy is
intermediate; Bench is narrow and gets techy at the end; Ridge is kinda
||The Bottom trail is 1.4 miles of singletrack and 0.7 miles
of graveled doubletrack. This route extends from the gate at Camp Wapiti
to Bear Trap Pass.
You can do the Bottom Trail as a true out-and-back, as it rides well in
either direction. From the entry gatehouse, this ride is 6.4 miles round
trip with 1500 vertical feet of climbing.
Typical view on the Bottom trail.
|From the middle of the route, you can transfer to the Bench
Trail or the Muddy Trail in Crossing Hollow. This is an attractive option
when descending, because it avoids the gravel road on the lower 0.7 miles
of Bottom. After descending one mile from Bear Trap Pass, find the
connector trails. The connection to Bench is on the right, and the
connector to Muddy is about 50 feet down the Bottom trail on your left.
From uphill, looking at the tail fork. Behind me is
the connector to Bench. To the left is Muddy and on the right, Bottom.
These trail options are for upper-intermediate riders or
better. They offer a longer ride but have some technical sections.
The forest is a varied mix of maple, oak, aspen, and
||The Bear Trap Pass trail drops 900 vertical feet from Bear
Trap Pass, arriving at the Right Hand Fork dirt road after 1.4 miles.
While some of the trail can be ridden uphill, long sections are too steep
and loose. Consider it a one-way downhill.
At Bear Trap Pass, this gate will take you to a steep
descent down to the Right Hand Fork.
|The trail was graded for vehicles in the past. You'll notice
a prominent hump of material along the sides of the trail, but it rarely
provides a turning berm. Some sections of the downhill are plush and easy,
other stretches are steep and loose. Where horses have been struggling
uphill, you can expect loose rock.
Descending from Bear Trap Pass.
||Upper-intermediates may enjoy using this trail for a loop
ride. In my opinion, it scrubs away too much vertical too quickly -- a
waste of a climb -- then plops you onto a beginner-level trail for the
rest of the descent. The downhill routes in the Left Hand Fork (Bottom,
Muddy, Bench) are more fun.
Views are few, because the route is heavily forested.
Here's a look at Rocky Peak to the east.
|At the bottom of Bear Trap, turn right downhill on the
doubletrack. About 1/10th mile later, watch carefully for a singletrack on
the left, which is the Upper Dark (Right Hand Fork) trail.
Because the route has been bulldozed, the path down
the mountain is broad and fast.
||The Bench trail is 3.2 miles long, with 1200 vertical feet
of elevation change. The bottom of the trail is just north of the Camp
Wapiti entry gate, and the top is about 150 feet downhill from the fence
at Bear Trap Pass.
The Bench Trail has a steep slope at the western (downhill) end, which
makes it better as a descender. But if you don't mind pushing your bike
uphill for about 1/2 mile, you can quickly gain some altitude then contour
the hillside for a fun ride up to Bear Trap Pass.
The Bench trail hugs the sideslope as we traverse to
|As an uphill, the Bench Trail begins with a grunt climb. Because the trail is used by horses,
the tread will be loose and rocky in the steep sections. You'll walk. Even
if you've got the leg, you won't find the traction. In 0.6 miles, the
trail climbs 450 vertical feet -- an average 15% slope.
There are some competing trails as you get higher up. Stay on what
looks like the main path, and it will turn 90 degrees to
the right. You can take a spur uphill to take in the view. Find your ongoing trail, then settle in for
some very fun riding.
Looking west at the Tooele Valley from Bench.
||At mile 2.1 from Wapiti, a connector forks away downhill to
the right. This trail takes you down to Crossing Hollow and the Bottom
Trail. (Just downhill from where this connector joins Bottom, the Muddy
trail heads up the opposite side of the small canyon. This offers a loop
ride that's significantly shorter.)
At mile 3.2, Bench reaches the meadow at Bear Trap Pass.
Trail view on Bench. Narrow, smaller trees, and
rockier than the trails in the bottom.
|As a downhill, the challenge here is finding the Bench
trail. I didn't see the trail in the big meadow at Bear Trap Pass. Then I noticed a
small sign nailed to an oak tree
on the edge of the meadow. It said "Corner Mountain
Pass 1.5 mi." So if you don't see a path, look toward the edge of the
meadow for a sign.
Keep straight at the fork 1.1 miles from
the top, and at mile 2.5, turn downhill just before the power poles and
descend steeply to Camp Wapiti.
Riding west on the downhill.
||The Muddy trail is 1.3 miles long, extending from the middle
of the Bottom Trail to the lower Left Hand Fork trail. It's fun as a descender, but can be climbed by a determined rider with some
The Muddy trail forks away from the Bottom Trail in Crossing Hollow, one mile from the
Pass. After skirting a small rise, it falls into a shallow
canyon along a creek. It then runs parallel to the lower Bottom Trail, separated by a
Muddy is narrower than Bottom and more twisty.
|The canyon runs northwest as you coast downhill, and at first the trail stays
close along the creek. Expect some muddy
spots, as the trail is affected by seeps. There will be some apparent trail forks with
small paths heading uphill from the bottom of the ravine. Some of these
are official trails, such as a connector across the little ridge to lower Bottom. Others go who knows where.
The trail rolls around, and then through, a seep.
||As Muddy continues downhill, it will rise above
the ravine and onto a ridgeline. As you approach the end of a long meadow
of Mules Ear, you'll reach a trail fork. To the left is the apparent
"official" Muddy, which descends to the Left Hand Fork trail at
0.2 miles from its bottom on the road. The lower part of this trail is
steep, loose, and narrow.
As we approach the end of the ridge, a field of dead
Mules Ear awaits.
|The trail to the right is more fun, twisting through the
maple forest. This trail has its steep spots, too, but I found it more
ride-able and much more fun. This trail ends at the spot where the
Left Hand Fork trail crosses the Camp Wapiti road, 0.4 miles uphill from
the Left Hand Fork trailhead.
Final plunge down to the Left Hand Fork trail.
The Ridge Trail starts at Bear Trap Pass and circles around on the
ridgeline between the Left Hand Fork and Right Hand Fork. Both the upper
and lower ends can be a bit hard to see. When heading uphill about 50 feet
before the gate (entry to the Bear Trap Pass trail), find a narrow
singletrack heading through the scrub on your right. It will climb for a
little bit, then wind around the hill to the opposite side. Then it runs
northwest downhill along the ridge.
Climbing around the hill away from Bear Trap Pass.
Note the narrow barely-perceptible trail.
|After a mile and a half, the trail turns into the canyon and
begins a narrow, steep and techy plunge down to Muddy. It reaches that
trail at the Bottom-to-Muddy connector. Turn left downhill to finish a
loop; right uphill to head back to the top, or cross Muddy to the
connector trail if you're headed for Bottom.
Mules ear and oak brush line the trail as we turn
toward a ravine that will drop down to Muddy.
|Riding notes, Bottom up then Muddy down
0.0 Paved road from fee station N40 30.419 W112 17.594
0.5 Keep R at road fork N40 30.103 W112 17.268
0.6 Trailhead, L on Left Hand Fork N40 30.035 W112 17.240
0.8 Keep straight (R = to Muddy) N40 30.040 W112 16.973
1.0 L across road (R = to Muddy) N40 30.035 W112 16.817
1.1 Ride gravel path along paved road to camp gates
1.2 L on ST N40 30.038 W112 16.672
Immediate R back to gravel road
1.9 Veer R onto ST N40 29.726 W112 15.967
150 feet, L on Bottom (R = to
N40 29.686 W112 15.918
|2.3 Keep straight (R = to Muddy, L = to Bench)
N40 29.418 W112 15.749
3.3 At Bear Trap Pass, backtrack N40 28.830 W112 15.115
4.3 L to Muddy N40 29.418 W112 15.749
4.6 Keep straight (L = to Bottom, R = Ridge)
N40 29.581 W112 15.985
5.4 R (L also goes to Left Hand Fork)
N40 29.987 W112 16.683
5.6 L on Left Hand Fork N40 30.035 W112 16.817
6.0 R on paved road
6.5 Back at parking
From Salt Lake Valley, take I-80 westbound. Exit on Highway 36 and
drive south through Tooele. Right at the southern edge of town, look for a
"Camp Wapiti" sign and turn left onto the Settlement Canyon
Road. (Note: there's a street called "Canyon Road" about 1/10th
mile before Settlement Canyon. It's NOT the canyon road that you
From Utah County, take Highway 73 westbound through Five Mile Pass.
Turn right (north) on Highway 36. As you hit the edge of Tooele, watch for
a small "Camp Wapiti" sign and turn right on Settlement Canyon
Drive uphill 0.8 miles to a large parking area and fee station. If you
plan to picnic, camp, or just park within the canyon, pay your fee at the
station. If you're biking in, find a parking spot here.
Canyon Road parking (for Dark Trail): For bike-in riders,
there's parking on the right side of the road, just before the fee
Spring Flats (Left Hand Fork trailhead): From the fee
station, drive 1/2 mile on the canyon road. Keep right as the Camp Wapiti
road forks uphill to the left. Drive 1/10th mile further and turn right
into the trailhead parking. The Left Hand Fork trail is across the road
from the parking entrance. The Dark Trail can be reached via a connector
at the back of the northernmost picnic parking spot.
Camp Wapiti parking: Drive 0.5 miles from the fee station,
then turn left on the Camp Wapiti road. Go 0.4 miles uphill and park in
front of the camp gates. The trail is to the left of the camp gates, and
within a few feet forks into the Bench Trail (left) and a connector to the
doubletrack to Bottom (right).