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Mahogany Mountain
with northern Pleasant Grove Bonneville Shoreline

The Mahogany Mountain trail traverses a narrow shoulder on the steep hillside east of northern Pleasant Grove. This intermediate-level trail must be reached via other trails -- either the steep Grove Creek trail or a confusing combination of foothill trails to intersect Mahogany Mountain in the middle -- which makes the overall ride appropriate for upper-intermediate riders. 

Cruising south on the way back. Photos and ride description by Bruce on May 5, 2016.

The trail is intermediate in technical requirement. Mahogany Mountain gains 550 vertical feet over 1.8 miles from south to north, with a final climb right at the end as you approach the out-and-back viewpoint. The simplest ride to the viewpoint (via Grove Creek) will be 5.6 miles round trip with 1200 vertical feet of climbing. For perspective on the Grove Creek climb, see the Grove Creek or Big Baldy Loop pages.

Northbound as the trail winds past groves of scrub oak. Our final destination is the viewpoint on the ridge.

There are options for loop rides in the area using bits of the Pleasant Grove bench dirt road and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Below I have a track for a 6.4 mile loop (with a short out-and-back to the viewpoint) that avoids the mean climb up Grove Creek. If you want to hit the southern piece of Mahogany Mountain that you'd bypass on this loop ride, it can be done as a quick out-and-back once you reach the trail.

View to the west overlooking Pleasant Grove and American Fork, then Utah Lake and Lake Mountain.

Note that the foothill trails here form a jumbled spaghetti bowl of competing routes without any markers. But my track isn't the only way to the top (or back down). So if you don't have GPS capability -- until the Forest Service organizes the area and marks the "real" trails -- just keep meandering generally uphill and you'll get there.

Tight side-slope on the southern half-mile of the trail -- a piece of the ride you can skip if you navigate the lower foothill trails uphill. Looking south.

Via the Grove Creek Trail
This is the classic route, and is the simplest to navigate. Note that Grove Creek is brutally steep, gaining almost 600 vertical in the one mile up to the Mahogany Mountain trail. (And that's why most local riders choose to go uphill through the tangled foothill trails north of Grove Creek. See below.)

The paved trailhead parking is at 5150 feet elevation at the end of Grove Drive ( which is the eastbound continuation of 500 North). Start east uphill on the broad cindered path, directly toward the canyon. 

Looking east into Grove Creek Canyon from the trailhead. The big path is Grove Creek. To our left is singletrack to the BST, and there's another connector about 100 feet uphill (at the small white rock to the left of the trail).

After a bit of pleasant climbing eastbound, the Grove Creek trail gets nasty as it grows steeper. There's one loose and steep 200 foot chute section that will be a hike-a-bike for just about everybody. At 0.65 miles, the trail approaches the creek then switchbacks to the left to climb west. (The trails heading uphill toward the creek are hikers' goof-around-at-the-water paths.)

Eastbound on a smoother section of Grove Creek.

This section of the trail continues a stiff climb as it hugs the steep side-slope. Even on a weekday in off-season, I encountered four groups of hikers in the mile between the trailhead and Mahogany. Consider this if you plan to descend back the way you came. There's scant room for passing here. 

Looking southwest after turning uphill at the switchback.

At mile 0.95 at 5750 feet elevation, the Grove Creek trail will switchback to the right to head east. Near the apex of this turn, the Mahogany Mountain trail forks left northbound along a shoulder on the mountain. If you enter the canyon eastbound again, you missed the trail. Backtrack to the turn.

Looking east up the canyon. The snow-covered top of Timpanogos is barely visible.

Mahogany Mountain, southern section
The first portion of Mahogany Mountain is 0.6 miles, descending about 100 vertical feet as you head north. The trail is narrower here, and the steep side-slopes will make early-intermediates uneasy. This is the portion you'll skip if you navigate the lower foothill trails uphill rather than climbing Grove Creek.

Northbound about 1/4 mile after leaving Grove Creek.

From Grove Creek, two competing routes go on opposite sides of a gambel oak grove then rejoin. Now navigation is straight-forward. At any trail fork, just pick the flattest fat trail that continues north. When in doubt, keep uphill. Around one-half mile from the Grove Creek trail you'll start passing connectors from downhill.

View to the south.

If you plan to return to the trailhead through these lower trails, stop and eyeball the layout occasionally to match routes with the area map. (You'll probably blunder onto unintended trails anyway, but eventually you'll wind up back at your car. Getting lost here isn't really a problem. Just keep working downhill. There are too many trails for you to end up stranded on the mountain, and the constant view of the mountain above and valley below keeps you from getting turned around.)

This bit of the trail is narrower, but offers nothing tricky.

Via the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and connectors
While there are dozens of tangled trails in this area, the navigation doesn't have to be complex. Just pick your direction and stick with it. Eventually, you'll get there. Or follow my GPS track. Most local riders prefer climbing the foothill trails, avoiding the crowds and steepness of Grove Creek.

Begin by hopping on the BST, either by climbing the steep singletrack on the northeast corner of the parking area or by turning left about 100 feet up the Grove Creek trail.

Early in the ride. The BST will meander just uphill from the power-line corridor. Yes, there's a trail under the power lines, too.

It helps to visualize a simplified overall "lie of the land" for that first mile north of the trailhead. At the bottom is the straight-and-flat doubletrack Bench Road. At the top is the (sort of) straight and flat Mahogany Mountain trail.

In between these two "boundary trails" are two equally spaced arching trails. (Look at the map.) The lower arch is the Bonneville Shoreline singletrack, starting from the trailhead then dropping back down to the bench road over 1.1 miles.

Looking back to the south.

The upper arch (identified by various names including Upper BST, Upper Shoreline, or Middle Mahogany) forks off the BST shortly after it heads uphill from the trailhead. This arch extends 1.3 miles from the trailhead, joining the Bench Road about 0.15 miles north of the lower trail's connection. The southern half of this upper arch is singletrack, while the northern end follows a steeper broad benchcut that seems to be an old abandoned road. 

The terrain varies between this (dry, hot, and open), and groves of trees, including some wild fruit trees. 

The middle area of each arch has multiple trails going everywhere. To get to the Mahogany Mountain trail, just select trails that head uphill. On my exploration ride, there were many smaller trails marked by rock cairns. But I wasn't able to make any sense of the cairns in terms of a single route I could follow.

TThe upper arch tends to follow a shelf with some flattish meadows and groves of larger trees.

Again, there are no trail signs (as of spring 2016) or firm indicators of the "correct route" to ride. And there are many many little "social routes" and game trails that aren't shown on my map. So watch for tire tracks and follow whatever trail looks likely to get you there. And if you unintentionally wind up back down at the Bench Road, just enjoy your exploration adventure and head back uphill.

Looking to the west from the former shore of Lake Bonneville.

Mahogany Mountain, combined path to the viewpoint
Whichever way you got uphill, the next mile of the trail is wonderful. Heading north along the mountain's shoulder, the slopes extend steeply above you. To your left the views go all the way from Santaquin to Eagle Mountain to Herriman.

Looking uphill to the east. But I think this photo was actually shot from the upper arch trail (Upper BST?) rather than Mahogany Mountain.

The trail angles gently uphill. You'll climb 300 vertical feet over this next mile on smooth and non-technical trail, undulating through meadows among groves of scrub oak.

On Mahogany Mountain heading northbound. The little dip in the mountain contour is our destination.

The limestone cliffs to your right were formed when this area was a deep ocean trough, from 360 to 280 million years ago during the Carboniferous (Mississippian and Pennsylvanian) Period. The chunky limestone in the trail and the exposed slope means that these trails tend be good for riding after storms or early in the spring. 

We're a little closer to the limestone cliffs here. We're riding on Lake Bonneville's highest and oldest shoreline, when it was 1000 feet deep. Then the lake broke through to the north and partially emptied, dropping to the lower level that formed the more prominent Bonneville Shoreline bench.

As you reach a rise preceding a dip before the final climb to the viewpoint, note this spot. (See photo.) Just a bit behind you was a narrow trail that offers a loop return back to the Bench Road.

Catching my breath to get ready for the final push to the top!

At the ridgeline, the trail splits. Go left to look over the valley. You can even see across the edge of Traverse Mountain to the Bingham Mine. Take a minute to look around before planning your return route.

The south wind behind the approaching storm mixes a bit of desert dust into the air, right when I want a clear "see forever" photo. Still, the views are nice!

Alternate descending routes and loop rides
One of the simplest return routes is found just before the last climb to the viewpoint. This narrow singletrack traverses around the viewpoint prominence, then drops down to a steeper old doubletrack. It reaches the Bench Road about 2.3 miles north of the trailhead.

On the way back you can ride the lower arch of the BST. Pass the connector to the upper arch trail and continue past the big metal gate. Hop on the BST about 1/10th mile later. (See the loop ride track file.)

Traversing trail forks left northbound near the northern end of Mahogany Mountain. Nice narrow singletrack for a loop ride.

For a straight-back return, ride about a mile back from the viewpoint. Catch a singletrack heading south downhill and just keep your front tire aimed in that general direction. And if you end up turned around heading northwest downhill, no problem. You'll end up on the Bench Road, which heads back to Grove Drive at the trailhead.

Heading south downhill. Lots of trails, some wide and some narrow.

Riding notes, loop with spur to viewpoint:
0.0   ST at NE corner of parking
        100 yards then left (lower BST)
        N40 22.548 W111 42.730
0.2   R uphill (leave lower BST)
        N40 22.612 W111 42.767
0.3   R uphill NE
        N40 22.742 W111 42.869
0.4   Fork L to go NW (upper BST)
        N40 22.776 W111 42.844
0.7   (Multi-trail intersection)
        R uphill N40 22.957 W111 43.025
0.8   L then straight (Mahogany)
        N40 23.040 W111 42.973
1.6   NOTE SPOT for return, keep R
        N40 23.639 W111 43.371
2.0   L for view area N40 23.921 W111 43.480
        Backtrack toward fork at 1.6
2.4   Hard R (Mahogany Down)
        N40 23.639 W111 43.371
3.3   L downhill N40 24.061 W111 43.976
3.9   L on DT (Bench Road)
        N40 23.953 W111 44.382
5.2   Stay on DT (L = to upper BST)
        N40 23.144 W111 43.564
5.25 Gate
5.3   L uphill (lower BST)
        N40 23.002 W111 43.530
5.8   Keep straight (L = to upper)
        N40 22.864 W111 43.137
6.2   Keep straight (rejoin outbound trail)
        N40 22.607 W111 42.768
6.4   Back at parking
Getting there:
From the south, get off I-15 at the Pleasant Grove exit and head east toward the mountains. As the street curves north, you'll reach State Street. Turn right. As State begins to curve southward past a big shopping complex, turn left at the traffic light to Main Street. Go through the 4-way stop at Center, then turn left at the light on 100 East (Canyon Highway). Proceed north to 500 North and turn right.
From the north, exit I-15 at the Alpine (American Fork Canyon) exit. Take Timpanogos Highway all the way to the mouth of the canyon, then turn right on the Canyon Highway, which will become 100 East. Drive south to 500 North (opposite the cemetery) and turn left.
Drive uphill on 500 North, continuing toward the mountains as it becomes Grove Creek Drive. Follow it up to the paved parking area. (Bathroom at trailhead.) The ride starts on the east (mountain) side of the parking area, heading straight up the canyon. N 40 22.483 W 111 42.721

Note about the map!  Only a key few of the many trails are shown here.

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide to loop ride
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
   Mahogany via Grove Creek   Loop ride as above
   BST lower arch    BST upper arch
Large-format topo map for printing:   View map
Lodging, camping, shops:
     Links to AF Canyon resources       Links to Provo area resources

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