Timpanogos looms above the trail. July 7, 1999 by Bruce Argyle
Timpanogos Great Western (Timpanogos Perimeter)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 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 wildflowers.
Blossoms of Vase Flower (also called Sugarbowl and Hairy Clematis) along the trail. Picture July 7, 1999
Cruising an easier section of the Great Western. 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.
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.
Colorado Columbine blooms wave in the breeze. Bruce Argyle, July 7, 1999
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.
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 home.
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
(starts at same trailhead),
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 $6 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.