View along the Gravity Trail as we head uphill. Photos and trail review June 21, 2021 by Bruce with latest update October 20, 2022.
Ephraim Canyon Trail System
The Ephraim Canyon trail system lies on US Forest Service land at an elevation of 6800 to 8000
feet. The expected riding season would be June through October. The trails are new in 2020
As of October 2023, there are nine connected trails in this system and most are easy to ride,
suitable for beginners and older children. (The Keelber trail is rated by the Forest Service as "easy" but I'd give it an intermediate rating for technical requirements and a "stronger rider" requirement for climbing. Gravity and Ponderosa are technically easy but are a bit more steep.)
There are multiple different loop options, short
and long. It's also possible to shuttle the trails. Many local families do a drop-off at the
top of Mirkwood or Templar and ride the 5 miles downhill by connecting several trails.
Climbing uphill on the Stopwatch trail.
Cruising downhill on Templar.
There are several small trailheads along the Ephraim Canyon
Road where you can access the trails. The main trailhead is just below the
bottom of the Gravity trail at 6800 feet elevation, just uphill from the
top of the
The upper end of the trail system lies on the Ephraim Canyon Road just
below the two developed campgrounds and the top of the
Looking across the Ephraim Canyon Road at the bathroom. There's parking on both sides of the road here. The Gravity trail starts just a bit up the road (to the right in this photo).
Main Canyon parking lot
The main trailhead for Ephraim Canyon is on the canyon road, 3.4 miles after the canyon road
turns toward the mountains. This trailhead has a bathroom. The Pinecone portion of the Pioneer
trail ends on the north side of the road here. The bottom of the Gravity trail is uphill around
the corner on the right.
Gravity/Ponderosa trailhead. The bottom of Templar is across the road.
Minor Trailheads and Access Points
Most trails have a small parking area where they reach the Ephraim
Canyon road. From bottom to top:
Gravity - small, 1/10th mile uphill from the main parking lot
Gravity/Ponderosa - small, 0.7 miles uphill from main parking
Ponderosa/Stopwatch - large, 1.4 miles from main parking
the bottom of Templar is across the road from
Stopwatch/Scandinavian - large, 2.1 miles from main parking near FR 051
connector to middle of Templar is across the road
Patriot/east Scandinavian - large, on FR 051 at 1.1 miles from canyon road
Templar - no trailhead at top of Templar, located mile 2.6 on
Mirkwood - medium, mile 2.8 on right
Keebler - small, at turnoff to Lake Hill Campground, mile 3.4
Entry to Gravity from the Ephraim Canyon Road.
The lowest-elevation trail in the system is Gravity. This trail is 0.7 miles long with 250
feet of elevation change. This is an easy trail, suitable for beginners.
An out-and-back from Gravity to the top of Mirkwood and back down would be 10 miles with 1300
vertical feet of climbing.
The bottom of the singletrack starts at a small roadside pull-off just 0.1 miles uphill from
the main paved parking area. There's only room for one or two cars here, so I suggest you simply
pedal uphill from the main parking lot.
Gravity is smooth and easy riding, with no steep pitches. Young children may find the slope
a bit more work than they'd like. Like all the trails in this new system, Gravity was machine
cut using modern techniques and has been laid out to flow well.
Looking toward the valley over a rock-lined banked turn on Gravity.
Typical banked turn on Gravity.
Gravity is a nice ride both uphill and down. From the entry just uphill from the main parking
lot, it climbs at a steady pace. Turns are banked for speed; good for climbing and even nicer
Gravity has more open terrain than the other trails in the system. Most of the trail is surrounded
by short oak scrub. There are almost constant views of the mountains and valley.
The top of Gravity is at a small roadside pull-out with room for a couple of cars. The trail
then continues uphill as Ponderosa.
The Ponderosa Trail also has a lot of short oak scrub for open views.
Ponderosa is a trail segment between the Gravity Trail below and the Stopwatch Trail above.
It is 0.8 miles long, with 300 feet of elevation change. Ponderosa is an easy trail for all
The terrain surrounding Ponderosa is mostly short oak scrub, so you'll continue to enjoy views
in every direction. There's a short stretch as Ponderosa starts uphill that's a bit steeper
in pitch than you've seen so far.
Approaching a grove of ponderosa.
As you might expect from the name, there are a few stands of long-leaf pine along the trail.
After the initial climb along a bench-cut, Ponderosa has a more cross-country feel. It spends
more time meandering -- and has fewer banked turns -- than Gravity.
As Ponderosa returns to the Ephraim Canyon Road, the trail continues uphill as Stopwatch. There's
room for several cars at this upper trailhead, and it seems to be a popular target for hikers.
Lots of pretty scenery!
The entry to Stopwatch, just off the paved road. There were four open-air painters working on their easels here while I made my ride.
The Stopwatch Trail begins at a fairly generous parking area off the Ephraim Canyon Road. There's
short connector through the log fence to exit Ponderosa, and another opening to enter Stopwatch
about 50 feet away.
Stopwatch is 1.3 miles long, with elevation change of 300 feet. It's also an easy trail and
is suitable for beginning riders. At the upper end of Stopwatch, the uphill route continues
as the Scandinavian trail.
The bottom of Stopwatch seems to be a popular spot for hikers and nature-lovers to enter the
trail system. I encountered a few very senior citizens (besides me) strolling slowly with canes.
Gentle up-and-down riding through meadows and long-leaf pine.
Heading into a banked turn on the way uphill.
With Stopwatch, the climb turns from generally eastbound to southbound. There's a bit of up-and-down
riding but the general tendency is to climb.
At mile 0.5 uphill, there's trail fork for Badger Run. Stopwatch turns left uphill. The Badger
Run trail on the right is a return return route from the lower Patriot trail.
Getting near the top of Stopwatch.
Stopwatch ends on a gravel parking area. As you exit through the log fence, keep straight. Head out of the parking area toward the main road. Pedal 100 yards to the intersection of the parking area road, the paved Ephraim Canyon Road, and the gravel FR 051 road. Look to your right and you'll see the continuing singletrack Scandinavian trail at a break in the log fence
across the gravel road FR 051.
Entry to Scandinavian.
The Scandinavian trail begins alongside the paved road after a very short dirt-road link from
Stopwatch. This section is 1.4 miles long, with 150 feet of elevation gain as you go south
from the Ephraim Canyon Road. It will end on the gravel Forest Road 051 at the top of the Patriot
The Scandinavian trail contours a small canyon heading south. There's a bit of up-and-down
riding as it goes through drainages. Beginning riders would enjoy this trail as an out-and-back,
as it has the least climbing of any trail in the system.
Most of this trail is in forest, but there is an occasional break-out with views.
With increasing elevation, we're seeing aspen and fir.
The trail runs parallel to Forest Road 051, but on the deeply forested hillside above it. You
may catch a rare glimpse of the gravel road from time to time. There are a couple of primitive
camping/picnic spots that back onto the trail.
Mirkwood joins Scandinavian 0.1 miles from its end. If you're climbing to the top, make a hard
left turn here.
Scandinavian ends as the trail crosses FR 051. The route continues as the Patriot trail, with
the option of looping back to Stopwatch.
Nearing the southern end of Scandinavian. Here the terrain flattens a bit.
Looking into Mirkwood from the parking area on the paved road at the top end.
At this time, Mirkwood is the highest-elevation trail in this system. The upper end is on the
Ephraim Canyon Road at 8050 feet elevation. It descends -- with more than a little up-and-down
-- to join the southern end of Scandinavian.
Mirkwood is 1.4 miles in length with 200 feet of overall elevation difference between the north
and south ends. It is considered an easy trail, but would require a bit more skill than Scandinavian.
There's a hiking trail forking steeply uphill near the upper trailhead. It extends to the campground
just uphill. It's unmarked and I didn't see any bike tracks on it.
As the name implies, a lot of Mirkwood is in deep forest. The longleaf pine has given way to
fir and aspen at this elevation. Temperatures were pleasant at mid-day in June while the valley
baked in 95-ish heat.
Heading uphill on Mirkwood.
View from Mirkwood as the trail breaks out on a side-slope.
There's a nice view of Ephraim as the trail briefly hugs a hillside. Most of the ride is in
Because of the easy vehicle access to the top of Mirkwood, on weekends it's likely you'll encounter
oblivious young riders heading downhill as you climb Mirwood. It's OK. Just ride. Nobody hired
you as the trail policeman.
Near Mirkwood's southern end, a steep and unmarked motorcycle route crosses. This is the Bovine Trail. This raw trail runs down from the lake at the Lake Hill campground, linking it to FR 051 below,
with an ugly steep section that drops 400 feet in about 1/3 mile. I saw no bicycle tracks to
indicate that riders are frequently using this route. But I understand some cyclists use Bovine
as a downhill route from the campground to the new trail system -- climbing back uphill via
the canyon road -- so I've included it on the map below.
Riding in thick cool forest on Mirkwood.
Mirkwood and Scandinavian join.
The bottom of Mirkwood joins southern Scandinavian about 0.1 miles from Patriot. If you're
descending from the upper trailhead, you now have two options for your downhill. A hard right
puts you northbound on Scandinavian, while continuing straight takes you to Patriot.
Entry to top of Keebler at parking spot.
The Keebler trail runs from the Lake Hill Campground road to the Mirkwood trail. It's designed to be best when done downhill, but it appears that riding either way is kosher. It runs through a dense fir forest, breaking out into an area of scrub where you can enjoy the views just before it ends on Mirkwood.
The Keebler trail is 0.7 miles in length with 250 feet of elevation change. The high is 8300 feet at the campground road. The entry to the trail is just after the campground road turns away from the Ephraim Canyon road, where there's room for 3 to 4 cars to park.
Winding through fir forest.
View to the southwest as we emerge from the trees.
The trail has a lot of little jumps built into it. Some are baby-gap jumps. Definitely don't try to roll a jumping ramp at low speed. All the jumps have ride-arounds.
Many of the jumps are sequential. The second jump is seen here just as the trail goes out of sight.
And here's a jump composed of a couple of half-logs, with a gap before you land. Note the ride-around on the left.
At the bottom of Keebler, the trail splits to send you either direction. If you head to the right, it's only 0.2 miles gently downhill to where Mirkwood ends on the canyon road. (From here, go to the right uphill if you're grunting up to the top of Keebler for another run, or go left to descend 0.2 miles to the top of the Templar trail.)
Looking south at the bottom of Keebler, as though arriving from the road on Mirkwood.
Entry to upper Templar. There's no trailhead parking here -- use the Mirkwood parking uphill.
The Templar trail, new in 2022, has added upper loop options to the Ephraim Canyon trail system.
The bottom of Templar is directly across the road from the trailhead where Ponderosa becomes
Stopwatch. The upper end of Templar is found on the north side of the Ephraim Canyon Road,
about 0.2 miles downhill from the top of Mirkwood.
The Templar trail lies north of the Ephraim Canyon Road. Templar is 2.3 miles long, with 500
feet of elevation change. It's good as a climb or a descent. Like the other trails in the system,
Templar is a bench-cut and is a fairly easy ride.
A peek at the valley as we cruise through long-leaf pine.
View toward Dusterburgs Hill as we roll north on Templar.
At the time of my ride in October 2022, many of the trail's turns seemed unfinished. Other
turns showed obvious signs of significant custom work and TLC to make them flow well. The "unfinished"
turns can be flat or off-camber requiring significant shedding of downhill speed. (I'd bet
this is already on the "to-do" list for next year's trail work.)
At mile 0.6 mile from the top -- 1.7 from the bottom -- there's a marked trail fork in a grove
of long-leaf pine. This trail connects Templar to the canyon road. The connector is a bit over
1/10th mile. It hits the road across from FR 051, where you'll find the top of Stopwatch and
the northern end of Scandinavian. This little connector is useful for shorter loop options.
Nice fall colors in the aspens. We're about 1/2 mile down Templar.
Here's the connector to the Pioneer trail, to the right.
At mile 1.5 miles from the top -- 0.8 from the bottom -- there's a connector to the Pioneer
trail. When heading downhill, it's on your right. This connector angles downhill for 0.3 miles
to join Pioneer. This connector opens up a very different couple of loop options.
The bottom of Templar is right across the road from the Ponderosa/Stopwatch trailhead. Although
it's marked and has a short log fence, it's not immediately obvious and is easily overlooked.
Enjoying the fall colors while swooping downhill.
Entry to Patriot. There's room to park here on Forest Road 051.
The Patriot trail is rated intermediate, but most experienced beginning riders would be able
to do this trail in the downhill direction. While it's officially a two-way trail -- default
Forest Service policy -- I think few riders will chose to do it uphill. As the trail firms
up, it may become a more satisfying climb.
Patriot is 1.4 miles long, descending 400 vertical feet. The downhill flow isn't consistent,
though. Once the surface has been packed firmly and the riding lines roll better, it may be
possible to blow through the slightly-uphill sections like a true flow trail.
An S formed by two banked turns.
Looking down toward the valley.
In June 2021, Patriot still has some rough edges. It needs a bit of fine-tuning here and there.
But mostly it requires quite a few more bike tires to work-in the lines and compact the trail.
It's still a bit loose, and not as satisfying to ride uphill or down as the other trails in
Note that the older trail down this slope, called Maple Syrup by locals, has been closed off.
At 1/4 mile from the bottom of Patriot, a new (in June 2021) trail forks away to the right.
This trail heads north and connects to Stopwatch for a loop ride. This is the Badger Run trail.
Patriot continues downhill to end on a dirt road.
The doubletrack is just across the creek at the bottom of Patriot.
Doubletrack heading toward the Flume trail.
The dirt road heads north for just over a mile and joins a larger dirt road, hitting the Ephraim
Canyon Road just uphill from the start of the Flume Trail. It's not a horrible ride, but I
think most riders would prefer to take the Badger Run trail to Stopwatch and descend from there
to reach Flume.
The trail connecting lower Patriot to the middle of Stopwatch is named Badger Run, new in 2021.
Badger creates a lower loop option.
At the time of my ride, I had to deal with a culvert awaiting installation and clamber over
a barbed-wire fence that wasn't yet been replaced by a ride-over. I'll assume these will no
longer be issues for your ride.
This segment is 1.3 miles long. There will be up-and-down riding over the length of the trail
without any overall change of elevation. This trail completes a lariat-loop ride of Scandinavian
and Patriot when it joins Stopwatch.
The trail winds up and down, in and out of forest.
This is a very pretty area!
I'll award this system my highest rating. It's a nice easy trail system, well-constructed and
laid out intelligently, with awesome views. It will be a hit with families who ride with pre-teens.
The nearby campgrounds make this system a good choice for groups and families.
On US-89 in Ephraim, go to 400
south and turn east towards the mountains. At 300 East, turn right. You're
now on state road 29, the Ephraim Canyon Road. Drive into the canyon and
climb around 3 miles uphill. When you see paved parking on both
sides of the road, with a bathroom on your left, that's the main parking
area. The entry to the Gravity Trail is 100 yards up the paved road on
There are five small roadside parking spots at points where various trails
come to the Ephraim Canyon road. The final entry is just before the Lake
Hill Campground turnoff.
Bathroom: Main parking and Lake Hill Campground
latest update October 2022