Section of ladder crossing a seep on the singletrack Pioneer Trail. Photos and ride track based on a ride by Bruce on August 17, 2011.
Pioneer Trail (Ephraim Canyon)
The Pioneer Trail is a bicycle-only singletrack trail in Ephraim Canyon. It starts at 8300
feet elevation and drops 1400 feet over 3 miles. Tech requirement is upper-intermediate or
advanced. It's a downhill route usually done with a shuttle -- but you can make a loop by pedaling
up the Ephraim Canyon Road.
The trail lies in deep forest on a north-facing slope. So snow tends to stick around a long
time. Because it follows an old trailcut on the mountainside -- and drops down the fall-line
in many sections -- water tends to channel and run down the trail in late spring. The season
for the Pioneer Trail would be mid-June to mid-October, but it depends on the snowpack and
View of the road climb. 6.2 miles with 2500 vertical, with five mean miles of 450 per mile. Temperature 94 at the bottom of the canyon. And a truck pulling a camper passing every 60 seconds. The Ephraim Canyon Road was surprisingly non-peaceful.
Looking back down the canyon from the road climb as Ephraim peeks above the trees.
During the summer, most riders will combine Pioneer with
, located lower in the canyon, for a 6.6-mile descent with
2500 vertical. While usually done with a 6.6-mile shuttle via the Ephraim
Canyon Road, it's possible to pedal up the gravel road for a 13.2-mile
Traditional doubletrack entry to Pioneer
The trail starts as a doubletrack forking north (left) off the Ephraim Canyon Road about 7
miles uphill from Ephraim, just past the Lake Hill Campground. If you're pedaling uphill, when
the upslope levels out for about 1/4 mile, watch for the dirt road just as the main road turns
to the left. Because of the high shoulder on the left side of the road, it's easy to NOT see
the doubletrack as you're grunting uphill.
Start of the doubletrack to Pioneer. Note that when pedaling uphill the DT was invisible from the far right side of the canyon road.
Still plenty of puddles to dodge on the doubletrack, despite a week of no rain.
The doubletrack may be rutted and rough, with water filling the four-wheeler trenches. Even
in mid-August, I had to hug the shrubbery on the trailside to sneak around several deep and
wide swimming pools. The trail aims gently downhill, dropping about 250 feet over 0.9 miles.
At mile 0.9 from the Ephraim Canyon Road, just after a short slightly-uphill section, watch
for the singletrack Pioneer Trail on your left. A small sign marked the trail (2011), but it
may not always be there. The trail was fairly indistinct at its starting point, and would be
easy to ride past.
White Pine to Pioneer singletrack
Many riders prefer to do the White Pine trail downhill, instead of cranking along the Pioneer
Doubletrack. The entry to White Pine is found another 0.7 miles up the Ephraim Canyon Road
from the doubletrack. It starts at the White Pine Campground on the left side of the road.
Rolling downhill through deep fir forest..
Sign marking the fork of the singletrack as you reach the junction of the Pioneer doubletrack with White Pine. Keep straight and downhill.
The White Pine trail is one mile long with 650 feet of elevation loss. That's a fairly steep
slope, so this bit of trail tends to erode and trench. White Pine is an expert-level descent,
compared to the Pioneer singletrack which is more upper-intermediate. White Pine will join
the Pioneer singletrack where Pioneer forks away from the doubletrack.
The singletrack begins with alternating tree-lined downhill and flat meadows, with a fairly
mellow overall downhill grade. There will be a few log-hops. Many sections of the trail had
a central water-rut from runoff, as the trail followed the fall-line downhill. The first mile
is fairly straight and uncomplicated.
We're about to plunge down, cross the creek, and rocket up the other side. The big logs will catch you -- maybe -- if you miss the bridge.
Trail fork for the Templar connector. Keep right and downhill.
At around mile 0.9 of the singletrack, keep to the right as a connector
joins from the Templar Trail of the
. The trail fork is not marked as of October 2022. The
trail angling uphill to the left goes 0.3 miles to Templar.
Later the trail starts to follow an ancient overgrown roadcut. (This forms a bowl that tends
to hold and channel water along the trail.) You'll cross to the south side of a small creek,
then hug the edge of steep New Canyon above a fork of Ephraim Creek.
Rocking the ride.
Meadow view early in the ride. Aspens alternate with maple, pine, and fir. The trail is in its own little valley, so it would tend to hold water.
Areas of high-speed cruising alternate with occasional tech areas. None of the tech stuff is
particularly long. If you're a nervous type, your maximum "hike" will be just a few steps.
On your first run, I would suggest a "look before you leap" policy. Although solid enough,
one of the wood ladders along a steep mud slope had been partly washed loose by recent storms
and was angling a bit outward. And a ladder over a big tree-trunk was missing a rung on the
back side where you couldn't see it. There was an 18-inch hole. Not exactly a bike-swallower,
but easy to endo if you were touching the brakes.
You'll cross this little creek.
Long ladder feature, extending up and over a three-foot tree trunk. Spacing was about 8 inches between each board. Easy, but not for the nervous.
When you reach a wide area with a fence on your left, you
left on doubletrack along the fence. You'll quickly arrive back at the
Ephraim Canyon road.
Most riders will want to continue
downhill on the Pinecone Trail by keeping to the right after the fence.
Pinecone is 0.5 miles and will put you at the main parking area on the
Ephraim Canyon Road. From here, either
continue downhill to the
, or head uphill for another run down
If you're doing the whole 6.6-mile, 2500-vertical downhill, turn right and head downhill on
the Ephraim Canyon road for 0.9 miles. You'll lose another 350 vertical. As the road turns
right around a cabin, head left onto a doubletrack that parallels the road (heading west).
This is the beginning of the Flume Trail.
We're hugging the rocky edge of the old road-cut on the edge of the gorge above the creek.
One of the few "views" on the singletrack, as we look through the trees to the north across the gorge.
The Flume Trail will be 2.7 miles with 800 vertical to a base of 5900 feet
at the parking spot.
Note: there's a "navigation challenge" 0.2 miles down the
doubletrack of the Flume Trail. You can -- and likely will -- get lost if
you don't know where you're supposed to go.
See the Flume Trail page.
Riding notes, from canyon bottom, traditional Pioneer
0.0 North on paved road N39 20.425 W111 33.882
0.3 R on Ephraim Canyon Road N39 20.646 W111 33.903
2.3 Pass Flume DT N39 20.260 W111 31.590
3.2 Pass end of Pioneer N39 20.370 W111 30.985
6.1 Pass Lake Hill CG road N39 19.935 W111 29.737
6.6 L on doubletrack N39 19.565 W111 29.760
7.5 L off DT onto singletrack N39 20.036 W111 29.263
9.5 Veer L along fence on DT N39 20.425 W111 30.957
9.6 R on canyon road N39 20.362 W111 30.985
10.5 L off road onto DT N39 20.260 W111 31.591
10.7 Critical Spot!!! straight ahead as DT's fork
Find ST on far side of pipe,
N39 20.260 W111 31.746
11.8 Begin steep descent
13.0 Join DT gravel farm road
13.2 Back at car
Traditional end of the Pioneer Trail. Note this spot as you head uphill.
Map of the Pioneer Trail
Getting there, lower parking (bottom of Flume): On US-89 in Ephraim, go to 400
south and turn east towards the mountains. At 300 East, turn right. You're
on state road 29, the Ephraim Canyon Road. After 0.6 miles, the road turns
90 degrees left. Go 0.8 miles to (I think) 920 East and turn right. At the
gate where the road becomes a "private driveway" (which, BTW, is
your return path), park on the west side of the road. Begin the ride by
backtracking north on the paved road.
Upper parking (bottom of Pioneer): From the
90-degree corner where Ephraim Canyon Road turns toward the mountains,
drive 3.7 miles up the canyon. Watch for a doubletrack on your left with a
fence along the uphill side, and a wooden step-over in the fence (note:
the trail doesn't go over the stepover; it's the doubletrack). See the
photo above. Find a spot to park in the broad area at the mouth of the
Upper trailhead (top of Pioneer for shuttle rides): From the
90-degree corner, drive 7.0 miles up the canyon. Pass the Lake Hill
campground (on the right), then watch for a doubletrack on the left just
as the gravel road turns to the left. The only sign was a carsonite marker
numbered 51105. There are several broad areas on the side of the Ephraim
Canyon Road suitable for parking the shuttle vehicle. Begin the ride by
pedaling down the doubletrack.
White Pine: Pass the doubletrack for the Pioneer trail.
Cointinue uphill on the Ephraim Canyon Road for another 0.7 miles. The
White Pine trail begins in the campground on your left.