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Big Pole Canyon

The Big Pole Canyon trails are located five miles east of Heber. The system was built in 2017 with new trails added in 2018. The trails are easy to ride, suitable for beginners. The climbing is at a mild grade but is fairly sustained up to the viewpoint. The riding season is June through October. This south-facing hillside will be very hot on summer afternoons.

Climbing past conglomerate rock outcrops on the Timpanogos View trail. Photos and ride review by Bruce on July 5, 2018. The orange hue in some photos is courtesy of smoke from a forest fire.

There are three main trails in the system, plus a couple of little connectors. Together the trails add up to around 6 miles. A "grand tour" ride up to the Timpanogos View viewpoint, connecting over to Pole Canyon then back to the trailhead will be 7.7 miles with around 1100 vertical feet of climbing. (See the ride description below.)

Looking west toward Timpanogos as the Big Pole Canyon trail descends around a hill to Big Pole Canyon.

To find the trails, turn east on Center Street in Heber and drive 5 miles. Center Street will become Lake Creek Road. Turn left on Pole Drive. Follow it uphill until it begins to descend and turns left to the west. At the northernmost corner of the turn, park along the road next to what looks like a vacant lot. That's the Timpanogos View trailhead.

Trailhead. Looking north.

There's no dedicated parking here. Park close to the curb and try not to get in the way of local traffic as you unload your bikes. Then pedal along the edge of the flood-control basin and find the northbound Timpanogos View trail.

Early in the climb, riding through small stands of gambel oak.

Timpanogos View will be your connection to whatever ride you plan to do. It's hard to get lost, as there are large trail maps on signposts -- including "you are here" at every trail fork. (The new connector trail from upper Timp View to Big Pole is still being buffed out, and does not yet have trail signs in July 2018.)

Navigation for my sample ride (below) is easy:  Just turn right. Always. This ride hits everything except the two tiny connector trails Mid Mountain and Top Loop. Which you can easily add as quick out-and-backs if you're determined to ride everything.

Example of a trail sign marking a fork. This is the junction of Top Loop and Big Pole Canyon.

Timpanogos View trail

The Timpanogos View trail climbs 700 vertical feet over 2.4 miles, ending at a viewpoint on a ridgeline. At 0.9 miles from the trailhead, Timpanogos View connects to the Big Pole Canyon trail and two short connectors called Mid Mountain and Top Loop. These short connectors offer a quick loop-around end to a beginner out-and-back ride.

Just a few turns uphill on Timpanogos View. We're looking west.

There are 36 switchback turns on the way to the viewpoint. They have a generous turning radius and function nicely as climbing turns. Nothing techy. Just keep cranking uphill and enjoy the ride.

The terrain alternates between sage and scrub oak. There will be rough outcrops of conglomerate rock. In 2018, the upper 1/2 mile of the trail is a bit raw, with loose dirt and small roots from fresh trail construction.

Rolling a climbing turn near weathered comglomerate rock.

At mile 2.0 from the trailhead, turn right to continue climbing. The trail to the left is a new connector that takes you downhill and west to the Big Pole Canyon trail. (In my sample ride, you'll take this new connector trail on your way back from the viewpoint.)

Around mile 1.5 as we climb Timpanogos View.

The viewpoint is on a ridge at 7150 feet elevation, at mile 2.4 of your ride. Assuming there's no nearby massive forest fire, you'll be able to see to the east and south into the Uintah Mountain foothills, and west over the Heber Valley to Mount Timpanogos.

Arriving at the viewpoint. The purple shadow behind me is Mount Timpanogos, obscured by smoke.

Timp View to Big Pole Connector (name unknown)

To create a nice loop ride, backtrack from the Timpanogos View viewpoint 0.4 miles, then turn right (north) on the new trail. You're at 7000 feet elevation as the trail begins.

Riding through mountain mahogany and gambel oak.

The trail will descend northbound through groves of gambel oak. The vertical drop is 200 feet over 0.9 miles. The trail will end at the Big Pole Canyon trail, right at the middle -- and the highest point -- of Big Pole.

Heading north on the connector.

The trail will pass close to outcrops of weathered conglomerate from the Tertiary Period. The rock was formed by outflow of mud and pebbles from the rising Uintah Mountains as the area was uplifted around 50 million years ago. The bits of rock in the conglomerate are precambrian, from 500 to 700 million years old.

Interesting rock.

Big Pole Canyon Trail

The Big Pole Canyon trail starts on Timpanogos View 0.9 miles uphill from the trailhead. It climbs up and over the hill before dropping down into Big Pole Canyon to end on the gravel Big Pole Canyon road.

The Big Pole Canyon trail is 2.1 miles long, with 200 vertical feet of climbing each way. 

Riding west on Big Pole Canyon, headed back downhill.

The trail can be done as a simple out-and-back of 6 miles by starting on Timpanogos View and continuing onto Big Pole as you reach the first trail fork. This ride will have 500 vertical feet of climbing.

The ride I describe below joins Big Pole at its mid-point and highest elevation, doing the descent into Big Pole Canyon as an out-and-back before completing a loop ride.

Connecting to Big Pole Canyon from Timpanogos View via the newer connector trail.

For all but the northernmost end of the Big Pole Canyon trail, the terrain is very similar to the other trails. The pedaling is easy for early-intermediate riders.

Descending northeast into Big Pole Canyon.

The final piece of the Big Pole Canyon trail climbs along the creek through a tall forest of maple and aspen. It ends where the Big Pole Canyon gravel road crosses the creek.

At the creek and road, where the Big Pole Canyon trail ends. Nice cool spot for a lunch break.

Bottom Line!

Very nicely built trails, fun and easy to ride. Lots of views. Just enough distance for a satisfying ride.

In Big Pole Canyon as we ride above the creek.

 7.7-mile loop ride...

 If the above video does not appear on your browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking here.

Riding directions for loop ride:
0.0   Singletrack by flood basin N40 30.376 W111 18.849
0.9   R to stay on Timpanogos View N40 30.540 W111 18.677
        (L = Big Pole Canyon trail)
1.1   R (L = Mid Mountain) N40 30.538 W111 18.617
1.2   R (L = Top Loop) N40 30.545 W111 18.520
2.0   R (L = connect to Big Pole) N40 30.628 W111 18.221
2.4   At viewpoint, backtrack N40 30.483 W111 18.052
2.8   R on connector N40 30.628 W111 18.221
3.7   R on Big Pole Canyon N40 30.948 W111 18.348
4.8   Big Pole Canyon road, turn around N40 31.362 W111 18.167
5.9   Straight at connector N40 30.948 W111 18.348
6.5   R (L = Top Loop) N40 30.644 W111 18.542
6.7   R (L = Mid Mountain) N40 30.623 W111 18.629
6.9   R on Timp View (L = uphill) N40 30.540 W111 18.677
7.7   Back at road
Getting there:
From Main Street in Heber, turn east on Center Street. Stay on Center and it will become Lake Creek Road. At just over 5 miles from Main Street, watch for Pole Drive on your left. Follow Pole Drive north uphill. After it reaches its highest point and turns left to the west, park alongside what appears to be a vacant lot at the northernmost apex of the curve in the road. Note a flood-control basin and a trail running west of it. There area trailhead signs, but they're about 100 feet away from the road and hard to notice until you've actually found the trail.

Water: none
Bathrooms: none
Campgrounds:  multiple in National Forest nearby

Riding resources for this trail:
One-page riding guide
Topo map for printing:   View topo
GPX track file for trails: 
     Download multi-track file     Loop ride above (7.7 miles)
Lodging, camping, shops:
     Links to Park City area resources
     Links to Heber resources

Copyright 2018