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Tooele's Settlement Canyon
Left Hand Fork

Settlement Canyon lies at the southeast corner of Tooele, right at the edge of town. It's surprisingly pretty, well-forested, and dramatically cooler than Tooele. The Right Hand Fork has the easy Dark Trail, while the Left Hand Fork's bike trails are for upper-intermediate riders.

Bruce climbs the Bottom Trail -- at this point the main Left Hand Fork trail -- approaching Bear Trap Pass. Photos and trail tracks July 13, 2018 by Bruce.

The trail system starts at the Left Hand Fork trailhead at Spring Flats. You'll need to pay an entry fee to the canyon if you park and start your ride here. That's a good option if your group is doing a picnic or hanging out in the canyon after the ride.

Most riders begin riding from the large parking area just before the fee station (see the "Getting there" instruction below). At this time (July 2018), there's no charge to bike or walk into the canyon.

The beginning of the Left Hand Fork trail system on the paved Right Hand Fork Road, across from the parking area.

There are about 9 miles of trail in the Left Hand Fork, with a wide variety of possible riding combinations. For riders who are new to the area, I'm going to suggest that you start with a climb on the doubletrack along the Camp Wapiti fence, then take the Bottom Trail uphill. This can deliver you to all the other ride possibilities. 

A view down the Muddy Trail, with nice singletrack hugging the sideslope under a canopy of tall maples.

From the entry gate to Bear Trap Pass...
Getting to the Left Hand Fork trail

As you coast downhill on the paved road, the first trail you see is the Dark Trail on your right at mile 0.1 from the fee station. Keep going. At 1/2 mile, the Camp Wapiti road forks left. Many riders choose to simply pedal up that road. But keep right and ride a little further. Across from the parking entry to Spring Flats, there's a trail on the uphill (left) side of the road. That's the Left Hand Fork Trail.

Climbing uphill through a forest of maple and oak.

Getting to Camp Wapiti

Pedal up the broad path. At mile 0.2 from the road, there's a signed route heading steeply uphill on your right. This trail connects to the Muddy Trail. Keep straight.

At mile 0.4, there's a trail fork as you approach the Camp Wapiti road. The Left Hand Fork trail goes to the left across the road. (To the right takes you up to the Muddy Trail.) Cross the road. After 100 feet the singletrack will merge with doubletrack along the side of the paved road as it approaches Camp Wapiti.

We've arrived at the Camp Wapiti road. Across from us, this sign marks the continuing trail uphill. Or, we could just pedal up the road.

Finding the doubletrack to the Bottom Trail

As you approach the gates of Camp Wapiti, the Left Hand Fork trail is the singletrack on your left. Go there. An immediate trail fork divides the route into the Bench Trail (left) and the connector to the Bottom Trail. Go right, and you'll arrive at a gravel road just outside the Camp Wapiti fence. This doubletrack is the easy way uphill, leading directly to the singletrack of the Bottom Trail.

Near the fence of Camp Wapiti, on the left side of the parking area, this singletrack is the link to both Bottom and Bench.

Uphill on the Bottom Trail

You'll spend 0.7 miles on the doubletrack climbing steadily. As the gravel road ends at an enclosure, go to the right of the fence and find the singletrack. As you hit the bump of the buried water line, the trail will fork. Keep left to stay on the Bottom Trail (the easiest way uphill). The trail to the right is a connector over to Muddy.

We're near the bottom of the Bottom Trail, heading uphill. The forest is tall old maples and fir.

Bottom, as the name implies, stays in the bottom of the draw, all the way up to Bear Trap Pass. After 0.4 miles on the Bottom singletrack, you'll reach the main connector to the Muddy trail, forking sharply away on your right. A few feet uphill, a connector to the Bench Trail forks away on your left. (In July 2018, each of these trails was marked with a ribbon tied around a tree but no trail sign.)

The Bottom trail takes a detour around deadfall.

It will take another mile of climbing on Bottom to reach Bear Trap Pass. The total climbing on the 1.4 miles of singletrack is 850 vertical feet, a do-able but taxing rate of ascent. For the most part, the trail is smooth and tech-free. But there will be spots where you must follow a trailbreak route around a fallen tree or bump over a small log.

Bruce cranks uphill. Almost to the top, as the maple forest gives way to aspen.

You'll know you're at Bear Trap Pass when you can see something besides trees. There's a little meadow with a view to the southeast. Continue through the meadow until you approach a fence at the top of the saddle.

Entering the meadow at Bear Trap Pass. From here, the Bench trail is to our left, around the middle of the meadow. The Ridge trail is in the right, just after the meadow ends.

Descending from Bear Trap Pass...
Now you'll need to decide on the next part of your ride. Among your options are:  (1) backtrack exactly as you came up. (2) start back down on Bottom, transferring over to Muddy or Bench after one mile. (3) immediately take the Bench Trail for a loop ride. (4) take the Ridge trail around to Muddy for a more-techy loop. (5) go straight onto the Bear Trap Pass trail for a loop that puts your downhill on the Dark Trail.

Handlebar view as we descend the Bottom trail.

The remainder of the page will discuss the other trails in the Left Hand Fork, both as climbers and descenders. Pick your route.

The downhill is very nice! Bottom is easy; Muddy is intermediate; Bench is narrow and gets techy at the end; Ridge is kinda mean.

The Bottom Trail
The Bottom trail is 1.4 miles of singletrack and 0.7 miles of graveled doubletrack. This route extends from the gate at Camp Wapiti to Bear Trap Pass.

You can do the Bottom Trail as a true out-and-back, as it rides well in either direction. From the entry gatehouse, this ride is 6.4 miles round trip with 1500 vertical feet of climbing. 

Typical view on the Bottom trail.

From the middle of the route, you can transfer to the Bench Trail or the Muddy Trail in Crossing Hollow. This is an attractive option when descending, because it avoids the gravel road on the lower 0.7 miles of Bottom. After descending one mile from Bear Trap Pass, find the connector trails. The connection to Bench is on the right, and the connector to Muddy is about 50 feet down the Bottom trail on your left.

From uphill, looking at the tail fork. Behind me is the connector to Bench. To the left is Muddy and on the right, Bottom.

These trail options are for upper-intermediate riders or better. They offer a longer ride but have some technical sections.

The forest is a varied mix of maple, oak, aspen, and fir.

Bear Trap Pass Trail
The Bear Trap Pass trail drops 900 vertical feet from Bear Trap Pass, arriving at the Right Hand Fork dirt road after 1.4 miles. While some of the trail can be ridden uphill, long sections are too steep and loose. Consider it a one-way downhill.

At Bear Trap Pass, this gate will take you to a steep descent down to the Right Hand Fork.

The trail was graded for vehicles in the past. You'll notice a prominent hump of material along the sides of the trail, but it rarely provides a turning berm. Some sections of the downhill are plush and easy, other stretches are steep and loose. Where horses have been struggling uphill, you can expect loose rock.

Descending from Bear Trap Pass.

Upper-intermediates may enjoy using this trail for a loop ride. In my opinion, it scrubs away too much vertical too quickly -- a waste of a climb -- then plops you onto a beginner-level trail for the rest of the descent. The downhill routes in the Left Hand Fork (Bottom, Muddy, Bench) are more fun.

Views are few, because the route is heavily forested. Here's a look at Rocky Peak to the east.

At the bottom of Bear Trap, turn right downhill on the doubletrack. About 1/10th mile later, watch carefully for a singletrack on the left, which is the Upper Dark (Right Hand Fork) trail.

Because the route has been bulldozed, the path down the mountain is broad and fast.

Bench Trail
The Bench trail is 3.2 miles long, with 1200 vertical feet of elevation change. The bottom of the trail is just north of the Camp Wapiti entry gate, and the top is about 150 feet downhill from the fence at Bear Trap Pass.

The Bench Trail has a steep slope at the western (downhill) end, which makes it better as a descender. But if you don't mind pushing your bike uphill for about 1/2 mile, you can quickly gain some altitude then contour the hillside for a fun ride up to Bear Trap Pass.

The Bench trail hugs the sideslope as we traverse to the east.

As an uphill, the Bench Trail begins with a grunt climb. Because the trail is used by horses, the tread will be loose and rocky in the steep sections. You'll walk. Even if you've got the leg, you won't find the traction. In 0.6 miles, the trail climbs 450 vertical feet -- an average 15% slope.

There are some competing trails as you get higher up. Stay on what looks like the main path, and it will turn 90 degrees to the right. You can take a spur uphill to take in the view. Find your ongoing trail, then settle in for some very fun riding. 

Looking west at the Tooele Valley from Bench.

At mile 2.1 from Wapiti, a connector forks away downhill to the right. This trail takes you down to Crossing Hollow and the Bottom Trail. (Just downhill from where this connector joins Bottom, the Muddy trail heads up the opposite side of the small canyon. This offers a loop ride that's significantly shorter.)

At mile 3.2, Bench reaches the meadow at Bear Trap Pass. 

Trail view on Bench. Narrow, smaller trees, and rockier than the trails in the bottom.

As a downhill, the challenge here is finding the Bench trail. I didn't see the trail in the big meadow at Bear Trap Pass. Then I noticed a small sign nailed to an oak tree on the edge of the meadow. It said "Corner Mountain Pass 1.5 mi." So if you don't see a path, look toward the edge of the meadow for a sign.

Keep straight at the fork 1.1 miles from the top, and at mile 2.5, turn downhill just before the power poles and descend steeply to Camp Wapiti.

Riding west on the downhill.

Muddy Trail
The Muddy trail is 1.3 miles long, extending from the middle of the Bottom Trail to the lower Left Hand Fork trail. It's fun as a descender, but can be climbed by a determined rider with some skill.

The Muddy trail forks away from the Bottom Trail in Crossing Hollow, one mile from the Pass. After skirting a small rise, it falls into a shallow canyon along a creek. It then runs parallel to the lower Bottom Trail, separated by a small ridge.

Muddy is narrower than Bottom and more twisty.

The canyon runs northwest as you coast downhill, and at first the trail stays close along the creek. Expect some muddy spots, as the trail is affected by seeps. There will be some apparent trail forks with small paths heading uphill from the bottom of the ravine. Some of these are official trails, such as a connector across the little ridge to lower Bottom. Others go who knows where.

The trail rolls around, and then through, a seep.

As Muddy continues downhill, it will rise above the ravine and onto a ridgeline. As you approach the end of a long meadow of Mules Ear, you'll reach a trail fork. To the left is the apparent "official" Muddy, which descends to the Left Hand Fork trail at 0.2 miles from its bottom on the road. The lower part of this trail is steep, loose, and narrow.

As we approach the end of the ridge, a field of dead Mules Ear awaits.

The trail to the right is more fun, twisting through the maple forest. This trail has its steep spots, too, but I found it more ride-able and much more fun.  This trail ends at the spot where the Left Hand Fork trail crosses the Camp Wapiti road, 0.4 miles uphill from the Left Hand Fork trailhead. 

Final plunge down to the Left Hand Fork trail.

Ridge Trail

The Ridge Trail starts at Bear Trap Pass and circles around on the ridgeline between the Left Hand Fork and Right Hand Fork. Both the upper and lower ends can be a bit hard to see. When heading uphill about 50 feet before the gate (entry to the Bear Trap Pass trail), find a narrow singletrack heading through the scrub on your right. It will climb for a little bit, then wind around the hill to the opposite side. Then it runs northwest downhill along the ridge.

Climbing around the hill away from Bear Trap Pass. Note the narrow barely-perceptible trail.

After a mile and a half, the trail turns into the canyon and begins a narrow, steep and techy plunge down to Muddy. It reaches that trail at the Bottom-to-Muddy connector. Turn left downhill to finish a loop; right uphill to head back to the top, or cross Muddy to the connector trail if you're headed for Bottom.

Mules ear and oak brush line the trail as we turn toward a ravine that will drop down to Muddy.

Riding notes, Bottom up then Muddy down
0.0   Paved road from fee station N40 30.419 W112 17.594
0.5   Keep R at road fork N40 30.103 W112 17.268
0.6   Trailhead, L on Left Hand Fork N40 30.035 W112 17.240
0.8   Keep straight (R = to Muddy) N40 30.040 W112 16.973
1.0   L across road (R = to Muddy) N40 30.035 W112 16.817
1.1   Ride gravel path along paved road to camp gates
1.2   L on ST N40 30.038 W112 16.672
        Immediate R back to gravel road
1.9   Veer R onto ST N40 29.726 W112 15.967
        150 feet, L on Bottom (R = to Muddy)
        N40 29.686 W112 15.918
2.3   Keep straight (R = to Muddy, L = to Bench)
        N40 29.418 W112 15.749
3.3   At Bear Trap Pass, backtrack N40 28.830 W112 15.115
4.3   L to Muddy N40 29.418 W112 15.749
4.6   Keep straight (L = to Bottom, R = Ridge)
        N40 29.581 W112 15.985
5.4   R (L also goes to Left Hand Fork)
        N40 29.987 W112 16.683
5.6   L on Left Hand Fork N40 30.035 W112 16.817
6.0   R on paved road
6.5   Back at parking
Getting there:
From Salt Lake Valley, take I-80 westbound. Exit on Highway 36 and drive south through Tooele. Right at the southern edge of town, look for a "Camp Wapiti" sign and turn left onto the Settlement Canyon Road. (Note: there's a street called "Canyon Road" about 1/10th mile before Settlement Canyon. It's NOT the canyon road that you want.) 
From Utah County, take Highway 73 westbound through Five Mile Pass. Turn right (north) on Highway 36. As you hit the edge of Tooele, watch for a small "Camp Wapiti" sign and turn right on Settlement Canyon Road.
Drive uphill 0.8 miles to a large parking area and fee station. If you plan to picnic, camp, or just park within the canyon, pay your fee at the station. If you're biking in, find a parking spot here.
Canyon Road parking (for Dark Trail): 
For bike-in riders, there's parking on the right side of the road, just before the fee station. 
Spring Flats (Left Hand Fork trailhead):  From the fee station, drive 1/2 mile on the canyon road. Keep right as the Camp Wapiti road forks uphill to the left. Drive 1/10th mile further and turn right into the trailhead parking. The Left Hand Fork trail is across the road from the parking entrance. The Dark Trail can be reached via a connector at the back of the northernmost picnic parking spot.
Camp Wapiti parking:  Drive 0.5 miles from the fee station, then turn left on the Camp Wapiti road. Go 0.4 miles uphill and park in front of the camp gates. The trail is to the left of the camp gates, and within a few feet forks into the Bench Trail (left) and a connector to the doubletrack to Bottom (right).

Riding resources:
One-page (printable) ride guide
GPS track file (right-click and select "Save Target as..."):
     Area multi-track file 
Topo map for printing:  View
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to north SLC resources

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