The Snow Gauging trail is 1.3 miles long, with 600 feet of elevation
change. It connects the Horse Flat trail (0.5 miles above the Alpine Loop summit
parking) to the Salamander Flat trail near the Alpine Loop road crossing.
The trail is intermediate in skill requirement and can be ridden either
direction. At this time bikers are almost exclusively doing the Snow
Gauging trail as a downhill.
Bruce heads downhill
through the aspens of the Snow Gauging trail. Original trail review June
20, 2006. Latest update August 24, 2018.
Ridden downhill, the trail is narrow and slightly twisty with a
bit of aspen-dodging -- a very fun descent. The ride I describe below can
be started either at the Salamander Flat or the Alpine Loop summit
trailhead. It's a fairly short loop ride of 3.4 miles with
700 feet of climbing. The route climbs Willow Hollow and a bit of
descends the Snow Gauging trail, then connects back via Salamander
The trail wanders a bit back and forth to dodge the
The Snow Gauging trail is one of the less-used routes in
American Fork Canyon. The upside of this is, there's less moto and horse
traffic to widen and tear up the trail.
So the track tends to be narrow (about 12 inches).
Many years I've had to hop over logs lying on the trail. There are
occasional roots. So while I wouldn't call it
an expert-level ride, it requires good bike-handling skills to keep your
handlebars clear of the aspens and your pedals free of the vegetation at
Handlebar view of the narrow trail ahead.
The Snow Gauging trail starts 1/2 mile uphill from the Alpine Loop
summit trailhead on the Horse Flat trail. From the parking circle, find
the trail on the western side. As you go through the log fence, the trail immediately splits into the Willow
Hollow trail (straight ahead and angling downhill) and Horse Flat (a left
Entering the top of the Snow Gauging
trail from the Horse Flat trail. To the left is the route uphill to Horse
At 0.5 miles from the summit trailhead, fork to the right.
At this spot, the broad Horse Flat
continues straight ahead into a bright meadow, which makes the little Snow
Gauging trail harder to see as it disappears into the aspens on your
right. In 2018, a nice trail marker
post was installed. See photo above.
The trail is generally smooth, with an occasional
root or bump. If motorcycles and horsemen discover this trail, that will
The trail quickly begins to descend through the aspens. It's
not a very technical ride. The curves are generally gentle. But the aspens
are never far away, so a bobble or a slide can make you kiss a tree.
Can't get enough of that twisty riding through the
After 1/2 mile heading northwest, the trail turns back 150
degrees into a ravine. Then it makes another tight turn through the creek
(dry in late summer) to resume the northwest direction. Here it briefly
enters a tall fir forest.
For a time, the trail's nature changes while in the
ravine. A bit steeper, and a sideslope. In the photo is a slightly more-techy
section, but it's still easily done by an experienced intermediate rider.
The trail continues a gentle rate of descent, now in a mixed
forest of aspen, fir, and maple.
Watch carefully for a trail fork here at mile 1.1 of the
Snow Gauging trail -- unmarked in 2018. The right fork is the official
trail. (The left fork will still get you there. It circles around and
joins the Salamander Flat trail just south of the Alpine Loop road
crossing. This option is used by riders who are heading toward the
Timpooneke trailhead. See the map.)
Heading through the aspens toward the Alpine Loop
Assuming you noticed the trail fork and kept to the right,
you'll soon cross the Alpine Loop road. 100 yards later, the Snow Gauging
trail ends on Salamander Flat 150. A left turn
takes you toward Timpooneke; right goes toward Salamander Flat and Pine
We're at the Salamander Flat trail. Right turn, and
it's 0.4 miles to the Willow Hollow trail fork.
Completing a loop ride...
To complete the small loop through Salamander
Flat, turn right and begin a short climb.
As you begin a downslope on the ridge above Salamander Flat,
0.4 miles from where you joined Salamander Flat, fork right downhill on
the Willow Hollow trail. It will drop you to the Salamander Flat parking
area about 200 feet downhill. Cross the parking area to the continuing
Cresting the ridge on Salamander Flat 150, with
Timpanogos forming a dramatic background.
Willow Hollow climbs 1.3
miles to the Alpine Loop summit trailhead to complete your loop.
Although I've described this loop starting at the Alpine Loop summit,
consider beginning at Salamander Flat. The Salamander Flat trailhead is an
excellent spot to begin your loop -- beginning with the Willow Hollow
climb -- because it's usually less crowded than the other trailheads. This
option also puts the main climb right at the beginning of the ride.
Climbing the Willow Hollow trail toward the summit
The Snow Gauge Loop ride
from Salamander Flat...
If the above video does not appear on your
browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking
Riding notes, clockwise loop from summit:
0.0 At summit parking, go to west side to find trail
N 40° 25.838 W 111° 36.869
Immediately fork L uphill on
Horse Flat trail
0.5 Fork R and begin descent on Snow Gage Trail
N 40° 25.687 W 111° 37.105
1.6 Cross paved road, go around metal gate
N 40° 26.110 W 111° 37.754
Join GWT 100 yards later
2.0 Keep straight (R = Salamander Flat)
2.1 4-way, go straight across
R = camping, L = Pine Hollow
N 40° 26.485 W 111° 37.710
2.3 Keep straight on Willow Hollow (L = Ridge Connector)
2.6 Cross road, veer R over stream onto ST
N 40° 26.361 W 111° 37.334
3.4 At parking.
Salamander Flat campground trailhead. From I-15, take the
Alpine-Highland exit and drive 7 miles to the mouth of American Fork
Canyon. Pay your $6 fee (as of 2018) there. Five miles later at the fork
in the road, go along the south fork of the river. About 4 miles up,
there's a T intersection in the road. Turn left. Drive uphill past two
trail crossings (Salamander Flat trail and Snow Gauging trail). 0.9 miles
from the stop sign at the T, turn left on a gravel road and drive 100
yards to the parking area.
Alpine Loop summit trailhead. From the T intersection
above, continue all the way uphill to the top of the Alpine Loop. There's a
parking lot on your right just before the top of the ridge. From parking,
find the trail on the west side of the loop (the side that overlooks AF Canyon). Go
about 10 feet down this trail, then keep straight and to the right at any
sucker forks in the first 100 yards.