Timpanogos Great Western
The Great Western Trail skirts Mount Timpanogos on its way
from American Fork Canyon to Provo Canyon. This section is also called the Mount
Timpanogos Perimeter Trail. This is a narrow singletrack with some steep climbs and many
rough sections, but with beautiful scenery that makes it all worth while. We'd rate this
trail advanced technical and strenuous aerobic. Altitude gain is 1300 feet. Because the
trail intersects the Timpooneke Road at three locations, you can bail out any time for a
shorter ride. The ride we describe here is 15 miles round trip.
Timpanogos looms above the trail.
July 7, 1999 by Bruce Argyle
|Timpanogos itself is composed entirely of limestone. This is precipitated
calcium carbonate and shells of small creatures deposited in a deepening ocean
basin during the Pennsylvanian Period, around 320 million years ago. The
deposits are several thousand feet thick. As the crust of the western edge of
the continent was lifted up, this region became dry land during the Triassic
Period (age of reptiles, 200 million years ago). After remaining near sea level
during the age of the dinosaurs, Utah was elevated to its present height during
the Tertiary Period, beginning around 65 million years ago. As the Great Basin
slid downward relative to the mountains of eastern Utah, the limestone was
exposed along the Wasatch Fault in Utah County.
The Timpooneke Trail and the Great Western begin together
(GPS N 40° 25.891' W 111° 38.402') in the Timpooneke Campground. But about 40 feet
from the parking lot, the narrow Great Western turns right (west) uphill away from the
Timpooneke Trail. (The Timpooneke Loop trail branches left a short distance later. Bikes
are NOT allowed on the main Timpooneke Trail beyond the border of the wilderness area!)
The trail climbs through aspen, spruce, choke cherry, and elderberry trees with a riot of
Blossoms of Vase Flower (also called Sugarbowl and
Hairy Clematis) along the trail.
Picture July 7, 1999
||This ride has a great mix of aspen groves, deep pine woods, and
flower-studded meadows. And the views are fantastic.
After one mile comes your first
chance to bail out onto Timpooneke Road. Just catch a trail heading right when you reach
the bridge over the small creek.
Cruising an easier section of the Great Western.
July 7, 1999
|At 1.8 miles, you'll cross a meadow on the ridge top that rivals any
postcard of the Austrian Alps. Cue "The Sound of Music" as you enjoy (real name)
Julie Andrews Meadow. From here, you'll drop down to cross the Timpooneke Road (mile 2.2).
Julie Andrews Meadow.
The first set of mountains are up-warped limestone from the Mississippian
and Pennsylvanian Period (older than Timpanogos), while the more distant
peaks are granite from a recent (26 million years ago) igneous intrusion.
Photo July 7, 1999 Bruce Argyle
|As you near the Timpooneke Road, you'll come to a trail
fork at N 40° 26.186 W 111° 39.680. There's a fork on the right (Trail
179) that heads downhill to the West Fork of Bear Canyon. About 20 feet
later, the trail splits. If you go straight, it dumps you directly onto Timpooneke
Road. To follow the GWT singletrack, fork left (south). The
trail will parallel the Timpooneke Road, traversing a couple of primitive
camp areas that connect to the road, before crossing the road.
If you took one of several doubletrack connectors out to Timpooneke Road, you may need to
turn and peddle
south (left) a little ways along the road. Look for the descent into Rock Canyon at GPS N
40° 26.061' W 111° 39.937' on your right. (Watch carefully! It's very
easy to miss it.) Don't worry, it's not as steep coming up
the other side.
||You'll cross the Timpooneke Road again at GPS N 40° 25.939' W 111°
40.877', mile 3.8. The trail climbs the bank directly across from you, but it isn't very
easy to see. From here, you'll climb briskly through the pines, then after a mile of
fairly level biking, descend to the Timpooneke Road again. The trail merges with the road
at GPS N 40° 24.132' W 111° 41.029', mile 7.5. To complete a loop, ride back on
the rocky Timpooneke Road. You'll have to regain 700 vertical feet to the summit. In the
picture at right, you're at 8250 feet elevation.
Columbine blooms wave in the breeze.
Bruce Argyle, July 7, 1999
|To add more miles to the ride, when the singletrack hits Timpooneke
Road (as above), go straight across through the log fence.
Follow the singletrack along the hillside. As it contours along an erosion
trench, the Grove Creek trail will join from downhill. Go uphill and cross
the meadow. At the doubletrack, turn left. Go a short distance to the
doubletrack and turn left again. You're on the Timpooneke Road, heading
|Alternately, turn onto the Grove Creek Trail to descend 2800 vertical feet over 5 miles (steep and hairy in
spots!), ending up in Pleasant Grove.
Or, continue on from the end of
the Timpooneke Road, on the Battle Creek Trail as it head south towards
the saddle behind Big Baldy. Ride up the switchbacks behind Big Baldy, then drop 3000 feet over 5 miles into Provo
Canyon at Canyon Glen.
Lupine, Sticky Geranium, and Paintbrush stud a
meadow overlooking Grove Creek Canyon, with Utah Lake in the background. July 7, 1999
||The trail is usually clear of snow by late June. Other good
rides in this same area include the Timpooneke
Loop (starts at
same trailhead), Ridge 157, Tibble
Fork-Pine Hollow, Aspen Grove, and Deer
Creek South Fork.
Getting there: From I-15, take the
Alpine-Highland exit and drive 7 miles to the mouth of American Fork Canyon. Pay your
fee (as of 2009) 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 in the road. Turn right into the Timpooneke Campground road.
The parking area is on your left about 1/4 mile later.