||Pine Forest Trail
Payson Pipeline and More Cowbones Summer
The Pine Forest Trail has three parallel routes that are used by bikes.
The trails are located in lower Payson Canyon, starting across from the Forebay
trail system and extending to Maple Dell. The usual riding season will be
June through October. The Pine Forest trail goes to (and through) a small
forest of huge long-leaf pine at the highest elevation of the route.
The Pine Forest Trail climbs through tall long-leaf
pine. Photos and trail review by Bruce on
July 1, 2021.
|The trails include (1) the historic lower Pine Forest trail
(listed as Pipeline Alternate on the Trailforks app) with an alternate new winding
route (called More Cowbones Summer on Trailforks), (2) the upper Pine Forest
Trail to Maple Dell, and (3) the Payson Pipeline trail. The new trail crosses
over the Pipeline and lower Pine Forest a couple of times. There's
one spot where things get confusing if you're fussy about which specific
trail you want to be on. Hopefully the trail descriptions below will help.
View up the Payson Pipeline. Both of the trails are
Pine Forest Trail (Connector, More
Cowbones Summer, plus upper Pine Forest Trail)
||For this trail page I'm going to designate "Pine
Forest" as consisting of the connector from the Nebo Loop Road, the
winding singletrack in the lower canyon (More Cowbones Summer), plus the
upper Pine Forest trail up to Maple Dell. This route is 2.2 miles, with
500 vertical feet of climbing.
Note that the top end of Pine Forest lies within the Maple Dell scout
camp. This is not public land, and you should check for any signs
indicating a change in permission to ride the access road to or from the
singletrack. Never ever "explore" or ride around within the
Entry to the singletrack Pine Forest trail. This
0.2-mile segment leads to a fork where left takes you uphill on the new
Pine Forest, and straight takes you out to the Payson Pipeline.
|The trail is very heavily forested, starting with maple and
oak, then the occasional fir, then long-leaf pine. You'll only find a
couple of open glances at the surrounding mountains.
Riding through maple forest as we leave the Nebo Loop
||On the lower end, the Pine Forest trail begins on the west
side of the Nebo Loop Road, just 100 yards uphill from the new paved
Forebay parking area. It's about 100 feet downhill across the road from
the old gated JMC entry to Forebay. Look for a wide shoulder on the right
side of the Nebo Loop Road with a narrow paved and gated private road on
your left as you drive up-canyon. There's an unmarked singletrack heading
northwest into the trees just downhill from the little road.
A rare break-out where we can see a bit of the
|At 0.2 miles, there's a trail fork. Turn left uphill to
continue climbing up Pine Forest. (The right fork goes to the Payson
Pipeline trail just uphill from the gate above the equestrian parking
Heading south uphill. This is narrow hand-built
In short order, the trail will cross over the old Pine Forest trail
(Pipeline Alternate) three times. It will then go on to a series of
back-and-forth meanders that give you a break from climbing.
The trail approaches the first of several groves of
|At mile 1.0 from the Nebo Loop Road, the trail crosses the
Pipeline. Depending on cow and horse traffic, the Payson Pipeline
"trail" may actually consist of three or four parallel trails
that intertwine. Keep straight as you cross the open area with
On the last segment of the new More Cowbone Summer
trail before it merges with the historic Pine Forest trail.
||At mile 1.3, you're again back to the pipeline. Again, cross
several trails and go into the trees on the far side. The final trail you
cross is the old Pine Forest trail (Pipeline Alternate). Make a note.
Looking east over Payson Canyon.
|At mile 1.5 the trail comes back toward the pipeline and
merges with a trail from the pipeline area. This trail is the old Pine
Forest trail. Keep straight and uphill.
The trail begins to descend as it approaches camp
||At mile 1.9, turn left at the trail fork. The right fork is
a climb to the picnic area at the top of camp Maple Dell -- not open to
the general public. If you explore this trail, turn around when you hit a
The trail then gradually descends to the bottom of Maple
Dell. There's a small gate at the property border. If you're doing an
out-and-back ride, turn around here. If you feel you must get out to the
Nebo Loop Road, watch closely for any sign indicating a restriction on
riding through. If it seems OK, proceed down to the dirt road on the edge
of the camp.
This gate marks Maple Dell property. If you're doing
an out-and-back, this is a good spot to turn around. And if it's been
posted as closed, turn around.
|To head out to the Nebo Loop Road, go left downhill, then veer right through the
camp's private gravel parking area. Turn left onto the main camp road.
(Again: do NOT ride around on the camp roads or trails!) As you exit through
the main camp gate, turn left and go 100 feet down the road to the public parking lot.
A loop ride option is to take the Canal Trail from the Maple Dell
on the Nebo Loop Road and descend through the Forebay
This is the trail exit near the lodge. To exit,
follow the road down and out.
Old Pine Forest Trail (AKA Pipeline
||Many riders use the pipeline or the Old Pine Forest Trail
(Pipeline Alternate) for their descent. The twists on the new trail are
great for climbing, but the turning and tree-dodging can feel a bit clumsy
and slow on the downhill.
An old stock pond with a water trough on the old Pine
|Shortly after Pine Forest turns to the north and begins to
descend, you'll come to a trail fork. The right fork puts you on the More
Cowbone Summer trail. Go left for either the Pipeline or the Alternate.
For the old trail (Pipeline Alternate) keep as far right as you can and
find the trail that veers slowly into the trees.
The trail is fairly smooth on this upper segment,
because the hump of the stock pond interrupts the flow of water down the
||The trail will gradually become wider and deeper, with more
loose rock. Once you hit the wide, old-appearing area, it's a pretty
straight shot downhill. After crossing the new trail three times, the
Pipeline Alternate emerges from the trees onto the pipeline corridor.
Merge with the Pipeline trail.
The old trail is a "fall line" path that
washes downhill with rains. In many areas, it will resemble a shallow dry
|If you're heading back to the singletrack trailhead near the
creek, hook hard right as you reach the fence. Next keep left at the trail
fork and descend 0.2 miles to the road.
Looking uphill at a trenched section.
||The Payson Pipeline trail lies on a wide corridor starting
at the equestrian area on the west side of the Nebo Loop road. Many riders
come from higher in the canyon as a drop-off ride, continuing out to
Payson on the road. This page will cover only the portion from Maple Dell
Looking down the Pipeline from higher in the canyon.
|You can climb the Pipeline. It's a fairly steady grunt, and
the surface is often loose. The corridor is used by horsemen for
recreation or to move cattle to and from higher pastures. In some areas
it's just one trail; in others it's three or four braided paths.
Probably the main advantage to the Payson Pipeline, riding speed aside,
are the open views. You'll see very little of the surrounding hills while
on Pine Forest.
Looking up the corridor. Paths diverge and merge, and
some washed-out paths have been abandoned.
||To use the Payson Pipeline as a descent from Pine Forest,
just take the left side at the first trail fork. Once you hit the open
corridor, take any of the paths that stay within the cleared area.
Approaching the equestrian trailhead.
Take the Payson Main Street Exit 250 from I-15 and turn south towards
town. Drive into Payson on U-115 to the traffic light, then turn left on
100 North, U-198. About 1/3 mile later, at a traffic light on the top of a
small hill, turn right at 600 East. Drive up the Nebo Loop Road.
Pipeline parking: Drive to mile 4.5 and turn right into the large
staging area near the uphill end of the corrals. Go through the gate and
find the singletrack heading south uphill.
Forebay parking: At mile 4.6 since turning off Highway 198 in
Payson, turn left into the large paved parking area. Now pedal your bike
up the paved road 0.1 miles. At a spot with parking on the right shoulder
and a small private gated roadway, find the singletrack heading up the
slope 150 degrees to your right.
Roadside parking: After passing the Forebay parking lot, pull
off the road at the next spot with wide shoulders. Do not block the paved
pathway. Find the un-marked singletrack.
Maple Dell parking: Drive uphill to mile 5.8. As you see the
signs for the Maple Dell scout camp up the road on the right, turn left
into the paved parking area. There's a bathroom near the entrance.
Now go back to the road and pedal 100 feet uphill, turning right through
the camp gates. Take the next right and go through the private parking area. Turn
left uphill (don't keep straight at the end of the parking area) on dirt
road and find the trail sign and singletrack 100 yards uphill. Do NOT
explore within the camp, and always check for any signs indicating that
access to the trail from Maple Dell is closed.