The other day I had the chance to go for a ride alone. I chose a quick, fun, easy trail in American Fork Canyon going from Tibble Fork Reservoir to Cascade Springs. The trail is about 10 miles up American Fork Canyon. At about mile 7 turn north on the road to Tibble Fork Resevoir/Silver Lake. The trail head is at Tibble Fork and is about 2 miles up from the main AF canyon road.
The temperature in the valley was close to 100 when I left Lehi but was 85 at Tibble Fork. What a difference a few thousand feet in elevation make?
The trail is a popular one and is often times crowded especially on the weekends. On this Tuesday evening after 5pm the trail was almost empty other than a few atvs and a few campers along the route. I saw less than 10 other atvs in the 3 hours our was out.
I would rate the trail as mostly easy dirt road. These trails have been used for more than a hundred years to access silver mines in the area. The road out of Tibble Fork can be rough and bumpy but its an easy ride. The first few miles is usually full of a variety of users from hikers, bikers, horseback riders and motorized vehicles of all kinds. The road follows the creek most of the way up the canyon. Once you get up near Mineral Basin the road widens and there are lots of spurs/trails to try out. You can read more about other trails here. Some of the more popular are Mary Ellen Gulch, Forest Lake, Miller Hill, Mineral Basin and Graveyard Flat.
About a mile before the Pacific Mine there is a split in the road with a sign for Cascade Springs. The trails official name is Baker Fork Trail. The trail from here is a series of long switchbacks as you traverse up the ridge to Pole Line Pass (elevation 8920).
When I got to the top of Pole Line Pass I found a Forest Service truck and camp. American Fork Canyon is a fee area. This means you pay $6 for 3 day access or $45 for yearly access. The money is kept in the canyon and over the last 15 years there has been tremendous investment to improve the canyon. Trail maintenance is very good and the Forest Service usually has people out and about policing the area.
From Pole Line Pass the trail begins to descend along a ridge line with excellent views of Heber City, Deer Creek Reservoir and Mount Timpanogos. The trail transitions from Pine to Aspen to sage brush within a few miles. You also transition from Uintah National Forest to Wasatch State Park. This part of the trail is my favorite. The trail is smooth and there are long straight aways where you can open up the throttle and really fly. Every time I have been on this part of the trail I have scene wild life. I usually see deer and often times moose. Last year the family saw a trophy moose on this trail.
The trail eventually ends along the ridge and there are switchback down to a small valley where Cascade Springs is located. The trail will end on pavement about 1/4 mile from Cascade Springs. You are allowed to ride to Cascade Springs on the road. Be extremely careful of cars etc. The speed limit is 25 and both the Forest Service and Utah County Sheriff will ticket you on this road.
Cascade Springs is natural spring that is water that bubbles up from underneath Mount Timpanogos. Water from the springs flows over a series of travertine terraces and pools and eventually continues on its way to nearby Deer Creek. The springs contains Brown Trout that allegedly migrated from the Provo river. Read more about Cascade Springs.
The Trail is 18 miles one direction from Tibblefork Parking to Cascade Springs. Its 5.25 miles from Tibblefork to the Cascade Springs turn off and nearly 13 miles from the to Cascade Springs. Download my Google Earth KMZ file. American Fork Canyon Forest Service Map