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Willow Hollow

The Willow Hollow trail joins the Salamander Flat trail 150 to the Alpine Loop summit trailhead. The trail is 1.3 miles long with 500 feet of elevation gain. The riding is intermediate overall in technical-skill requirement, with a couple of short rocky challenging spots. The top elevation is 8050 feet.

The riding season is June through October. The Forest Service office for American Fork Canyon usually designates all trails as closed when the winter snow begins to melt, then opens the trails when they are dry enough to ride without damage.

View of Timpanogos from Willow Hollow in June 2006. Original trail review 1999. Updated by Bruce on August 24, 2018.

Willow Hollow can be used as either a climbing or descending route. It's a reasonable uphill for a ride on Ridge 157, Horse Flat, Snow Gauging, or Deer Creek South Fork.

Climbing past the trail sign in Salamander Flat. The Ridge Connector is to my left. Box Elder Peak is the big hill on the right.

On the bottom end, the trail begins on the Salamander Flat trail just west of the Salamander Flat campground. On the ridgeline, Willow Hollow forks east downhill to the Salamander Flat parking area.

The trail continues directly across the parking zone, 100 yards from where it began on the Salamander Flat trail.

There's some bumpy trail as you first start to climb away from Salamander Flat.

The first trail fork comes at mile 0.2 in a meadow area. The two main trails are Ridge Connector (left) and Willow Hollow (ahead and slightly right). Other trails from campsites join in this area, including a rather prominent trail going 90 degrees right and over to the Alpine Loop road. If you're confused, check the trail sign and remember you want to go almost straight east up-canyon.

Drone view as our rider breaks out of the aspens.

During this 0.3 miles of Willow Hollow, there are a couple of rocky turns and bumpy steeper areas. Hang on, because it gets way better.

We're just above the Alpine Loop road crossing. 

Willow Hollow crosses the Alpine Loop road at mile 0.4 from Salamander Flat. Now there will be little groves of aspen and small meadows as you climb uphill.

A little bit above the road crossing, the entire trail has been rebuilt on a more sustainable lie. (The old rocky trench -- straight up the fall line -- is gone. The old route went straight up a central meadow. But the alignment eroded into a ditch. The new trail winds back and forth in the trees higher on the hill.)

90% of the ride is in forest, but with a lot of little breakouts like this one.

As you get higher on the mountain, the trail retreats into the aspens. There will be occasional fir trees, but most of the trail lies in aspen forest. Willow Hollow winds back and forth through the trees as it climbs eastbound.

On the newer trail in the aspen grove.

At mile 1.3, Willow Hollow hits the western side of the parking circle of the Alpine Loop summit trailhead. Make your connections here:
Horse Flat and Snow Gauging - 10 feet before you hit pavement, turn 90 degrees right (don't be suckered into taking one of the unmarked trails just downhill!)
Deer Creek South Fork and Lame Horse - straight across the parking circle on the east side, the combined trails head east.
Ridge 157 to Pine Hollow etc - turn left as you enter the parking circle. Where the spur from the road enters the parking circle, take the singletrack northbound through the trees, then as you reach the Alpine Loop road, find the continuing trail on the other side.

Arriving at the summit trailhead. Horse Flat is immediately to my right (left side of the photo).

Willow Hollow makes a nice downhill. But this is a popular route for horses and hikers, so keep your speed compatible with your sight-lines.

The loop ride described below is 3.8 miles with 700 vertical feet of climbing. Take Willow Hollow uphill from Salamander Flat. Turn north on Ridge 157 at the summit. Drop down Pine Hollow and turn right on the Salamander Flat trail. Take Salamander back to Pine Hollow and drop down to the parking area.

Playing a little aspen dodge 'em.

Bottom Line

Great trail, useful in a variety of loop rides. The new trail-cut on the upper half makes this a pleasure to climb.

In the spring, the creek has substantial water flowing. There's one spot where you have to splash through. By late summer, it's just a trickle.

 Willow Hollow loop with Ridge 157 and Pine Hollow...

 If the above video does not appear on your browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking here.

Willow Hollow Loop (Ridge and Pine Hollow) from Salamander Flat
0.0   Willow Hollow uphill from parking N40 26.417 W111 37.649
0.2   Keep straight (L=Connector, R=road) N40 26.433 W111 37.508
0.4   Cross Alpine Loop road N40 26.345 W111 37.318
1.2   Summit trailhead N40 25.844 W111 36.847
        R to Ridge 157, cross road
2.1   Fork R (L = Ridge Connector) N40 26.486 W111 37.191
2.5   L on Pine Hollow N40 26.682 W111 37.032
3.1   L on Salamander Flat N40 26.740 W111 37.620
3.6   Cross creek, R uphill N40 26.475 W111 37.642
3.7   L on Willow Hollow N40 26.434 W111 37.700
3.8   Back at parking
Getting there:

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.

Bathrooms:  Summit and Salamander Flat trailheads.

Riding Resources for Horse Flat:
  AF Canyon area topo map:  View map
  GPS track files (right-click and "save as...")
      Loop of Willow Hollow, Ridge, Pine Hollow, Salamander Flat
      American Fork Canyon multi-track area file
  Lodging, camping, shops:  Links to AF Canyon resources

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