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Tibble Fork

Tibble Fork is a 3.3 mile trail in American Fork Canyon, used almost exclusively as a downhill route. The trail begins on Ridge 157 and ends on the Mill Canyon trail, so your minimum ride will be substantially longer. For example, a common shuttled route from the Alpine Loop Summit trailhead to Mill Canyon trailhead is 6.9 miles. Even with a shuttle, there will be substantial climbing. The ride is for experts or very experienced upper-intermediates.

Bruce rocks down Tibble Fork. Original trail review August 21, 1999 by Bruce. Latest update August 17, 2018.

Tibble Fork dries out a little later than other AF Canyon trails. But it can get pretty slimy sometimes in summer, too, especially if the horses have stirred it up by stomping through the mud. After a big rain, avoid riding this trail -- not just because it's tricky when wet, but to avoid rutting up the trail. Portions of the trail are usually snowbound until late June or early July. Snow usually closes the trail again in late October.

Tibble Fork has a combination of mature fir forest, aspen groves, meadows, and scrub oak.

There are a number of possible ways to ride Tibble Fork. You can do the whole thing as a loop, using pavement to link the Mill Canyon trailhead in the North Fork to a trailhead in the South Fork such as Pine Hollow, Timpooneke, Salamander Flat, or Summit. You can shuttle the ride by driving from the Mill Canyon trailhead (just up the gravel North Fork road from Tibble Fork Lake) to your favorite trailhead. 

There are also two options from the Cascade Springs road -- on the other side of the Alpine Loop Summit. You can pedal up the north arm of the Deer Creek South Fork trail from Elk Glen. This trail crosses Ridge 157 to Tibble Fork at a 4-way at the top of the ridge. Or you can drive (or pedal) up Forest Road 180 to the top of the ridge and take Ridge 157 south to the Tibble Fork trail. (See the high-res topo map link below.)

Handlebar view as we descend through fir forest.

The ride I describe below is 11.3 miles with 2300 vertical feet of climbing. This loop links a portion of the American Fork Canyon paved road, the Pine Hollow Trail, Ridge Trail 157, the Tibble Fork Trail, and finally the bottom of the Mill Canyon trail. Note that on weekends the paved roads are heavy with vehicle traffic, and the narrow road Alpine Loop road above Timpooneke barely has room for a vehicle to pass a bike.

From my original trail review. Matt and Jackie look over the valley towards a cloud-covered Mount Timpanogos. Photo August 21, 1999.

View from 8100 feet, looking southwest.

Most bikers start the ride at the bottom. As you drive past Tibble Fork Reservoir, 2 miles up the North Fork of American Fork Canyon, go up the gravel road straight ahead. 1/10th mile later, turn right into the gravel parking area. That's where your ride will end.

On your bicycle, head back down the North Fork road. At the junction with the main road, climb up the pavement of the South Fork to reach your preferred trailhead.

There's a lot of variety, no matter which way you arrive at the Tibble Fork trail.

Pine Hollow climbing option!

Two miles up South Fork is the Pine Hollow trailhead, on your right. The trail starts across the street from the parking area, on your left as you climb the road. Pine Hollow is modestly steep and narrow, and will challenge your lungs as well as your thighs.

Cranking uphill in Pine Hollow.

Riding up from Pine Hollow, you'll climb 1.9 miles through the pines and oak of the canyon, then turn left as Pine Hollow continues uphill. About 1/2 mile later, you'll pass a large beautiful meadow, after which Pine Hollow will link up with Ridge Trail 157. Turn left (north).

Some riders call this steep section Pine Hollow's "Puke Hill." Brutally steep and it goes on and on.

Timpooneke trailhead climbing option!

If you don't like the idea of stiff climbing on a narrow trail, ride further up the road to the "T" intersection. Turn right and pedal 1/2 mile to the Timpooneke trailhead inside the campground. From the trailhead parking lot, head south on the Timpooneke Trail then turn left over the creek onto the Salamander Flat Trail #150.

Heading uphill away from Timpooneke on the Salamander Flat trail.

The ride from Timpooneke adds an extra couple of miles, but it's much easier -- grunt-wise -- than the steep lower Pine Hollow trail. Yes, you still have to do a steep grunt section on Pine Hollow to link from the Salamander Flat trail up to Ridge 157.

Not too far from the bridge at Salamander Flat, the trail hits Pine Hollow for a final grunt climb up to the Ridge trail.

Salamander Flat trailhead option!

For a shorter ride, you can pedal left at the "T" intersection and stay on the road until you reach Salamander Flat. Turn left from the paved road and pedal to the parking area. Keep straight and find continuing trail. Descend directly north until you reach a trail intersection with a bridge straight ahead. Go across the creek, and you're on Salamander Flat trail 150, heading toward Pine Hollow.

Hitting the Ridge Trail at the top of Pine Hollow. Hard left turn here!

Another option from Salamander Flat is to climb the Willow Hollow trail up to the Alpine Loop Summit trailhead. Across the road from the trailhead is Ridge Trail 157, which after 3 miles will deliver you to the top of Tibble Fork.

Willow Hollow is a pretty ride and will take you from Salamander Flat up to the Alpine Loop summit, where you can catch Ridge 157 northbound.

Alpine Loop Summit option!

Keep pedaling uphill on the paved road until you reach the summit trailhead. You can catch Ridge 157 where it crosses the paved road, about 100 yards uphill from the trailhead entry road.

Summit trailhead. The Ridge trail exits through the aspens at the corner of the parking area, then crosses the Alpine Loop road.

Ridge Trail 157 to Tibble!

However you arrived at Ridge trail 157, keep heading north. If you shuttled to the summit trailhead, the first trail fork will be the Ridge Connector at mile 0.9 from the Alpine Loop road. Turn to the right.

The next trail fork is Pine Hollow at mile 1.3. Keep right again.

The Ridge trail has a lot of up-and-down riding. You'll put in over 600 vertical feet of climbing from the summit trailhead to Tibble Fork.

You'll reach the Mud Springs trail at mile 2.2 from the summit, mile 0.9 from the trail fork with Pine Hollow. Turn uphill to the right.

Portions of the Ridge trail are rocky and rooty.

At mile 3.0 from the summit, mile 1.7 from Pine Hollow, you'll reach a 4-way trail intersection on the ridgeline. Straight ahead is Ridge 157. To your right is Deer Creek South Fork. Turn left and begin your descent of Tibble Fork!

Enjoy some of the views from the Ridge trail before you hit Tibble Fork!

The Tibble Fork Trail!
Payoff time. The Tibble Fork trail is a 3.3-mile advanced-technical descent that will leave you grinning. You'll drop around 2000 feet over logs, roots, rocks and twisting turns.

Descending Tibble Fork. Some of the trail is plush; other parts are a festival of rocks and roots.

The Mad Scientist. The mountains to your south and west (Timpanogos, Box Elder) are formed of limestone from around 320 million years ago. The peaks to the north (Ant Hill, Lone Peak) are formed of granite from an igneous intrusion of around 26 million years ago.

There are several beautiful meadows that interrupt the descent on the Tibble Fork Trail. Here Bruce takes in the scenery. Photo August 21, 1999 by Matt.

After the initial descent through tall fir forest, you'll hit a region of aspen groves and meadows. Some of the rockier sections will be in this middle section.

Lower down, you'll hit maple and oak forest.

Rolling through aspen forest.

At mile 2.7 from the Ridge trail, you'll reach the 2018 trail diversion. (The bottom half-mile of the old trail has been closed.) The trail will traverse the hill 0.6 miles to the Mill Canyon trail. Unfortunately, this connector requires some stiff granny-gear climbing. The connector has about 200 feet of overall climbing mixed in with 200 feet of descending.

Hitting a turn in the firs.

When you reach the Mill Canyon trail, turn left downhill for the worst 1/10th mile of trail you'll ever ride. Drop 150 vertical feet in 1/10th mile. Try not to skid, but the horses and motos will assure that there's plenty of loose powder and slippery mobile chunks of rock. Once you get past the steep spot, it's a pleasant 0.4 more miles to the bridge over the North Fork and the trailhead.

Looking down the steep slope of Mill Canyon as Tibble Fork ends on the Mill Canyon trail.

No broken bones! Bottom Line

Classic downhill ride, still very popular. It should be on your list of "must-ride" trails of Utah. However, understand that Tibble is not really a "downhiller's" type of trail because it takes quite a bit of pedal-cranking work to get to it.

The camera catches Matt on the first bounce, during one of several vicious wipeouts on the Tibble Fork Trail, muddied by a big rainstorm. Photo August 21, 1999 by Bruce Argyle

Riding notes, loop through Pine Hollow starting at Tibble:
0.0  Mill Canyon TH N40 29.128 W111 38.309
       Back down road
2.5  L on Alpine Loop (South Fork) road N40 27.213 W111 39.712
4.5  Pine Hollow TH, trail across road
0.0  Pine Hollow trail (reset) N40 26.991 W111 38.584
0.8  Keep L (R = Salamander Flat) N40 26.743 W111 37.602
1.7  L on Ridge trail N40 26.677 W111 37.016

2.6  R (straight = Mud Springs) N40 27.115 W111 37.372
3.3  L on Tibble Fork N40 27.549 W111 36.907
       (R = DCSF, straight = Ridge)
4.6  Straight (Mud Springs crosses) N40 28.145 W111 37.580
6.6  L on Mill Canyon N40 28.930 W111 38.111
7.0  R (L = lakeside trail) N40 29.024 W111 38.352
7.1  trailhead

Getting there: From I-15, take the Alpine-Highland (Timpanogos Highway) exit just south of Point-of-the-Mountain. Go east towards the mountains on UT-92 and continue up American Fork Canyon. There's a $6 fee (as of 2018). About 6 miles up the canyon, turn left at the North Fork junction and drive 2 miles to Tibble Fork Reservoir. (While riding the loop, you'll ride up the South Fork from this same junction.) Or park at the junction and end your ride with a 2-mile road cruise from the reservoir.

Camping:  multiple improved and primitive campsites in AF Canyon
Bathroom:  Tibble Fork Lake, Pine Hollow TH, Timpooneke TH, Salamander Flat TH, Summit TH, picnic sites along North Fork
Water:  Tibble Fork, developed campgrounds

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click GPS file link and "Save as..."):
        GPX from Pine Hollow  High-res topo (340 KB):  View 
        GPX from Timpooneke  High-res topo (340 KB):  View
        American Fork Canyon multi-track area file
Area topo map for printing:   View map
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to north Utah County resources

Copyright 1999 Mad Scientist Software Inc
Last updated 2018

Other nearby trails: Timpanogos Perimeter, Timpooneke, Deer Creek South Fork, Aspen Grove.
For a color-coded map of trails linking to Ridge Trail 157, see the Ridge Trail Page.