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psmcd 07-28-2013 09:56 PM

Wandered in to Snake Creek
Ever get that notion you want to see something from the other side? The Wasatch Range lets you poke around from different directions. The ski resorts clustered here give great access. Sundance, Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, Brighton, The Canyons, Park City Mountain and Deer Valley are great riding destinations and offer great views, especially if you're into walking.

Snake Creek leads into the same area surrounded by these resorts, from a different angle. The fun route from the Salt Lake Valley is up Big Cottonwood Canyon, over Guardsman Pass and down to Midway. Afternoon rain rides seem to be the norm here this year. Out and over the hill to the left lies Park City, around to the right, Midway and Snake Creek.
There was an hour's worth of ugly black that followed me over the mountain so I visited with a friend until this scene lured me into Snake Creek.
The road becomes graded gravel/dirt up a couple of miles, then climbs out of the canyon over a ridge to the south (left). Before that this little 421 (5.5 miles from the Wasatch State Park Visitor Center) mine road spurs off up the right side of the canyon. Here's the map:
Initially it's not too steep but demands good tires and rock riding skills. Perfect opportunity to test my brandy new Kenda K270. Soon there's a 3-way fork and one leads up to this mine dump.
Here you'll find heavy equipment, old and new.
It's a decent climb to this point.
An upper spur off this fork leads into a narrows of the canyon and an old structure emitting the sound of big, rushing water. In the early 1900's there was a tunnel punched back 2 or 3 miles to drain water from the Ontario and Daily mines in Park City.
Back to the 3-way fork and up a couple of switch-back pitches led to this deceptively simple cruise through the quakies.
That didn't last. It got super steep, super rocky and you won't see any of it because that Kenda 270, the DR650 and my own self got tested to the limit. There was no stopping until about 9,500 feet where I cycled through second thoughts, misgivings and other doubts about my judgement. At one point I was climbing full power, wheel spinning alongside a rut so deep I wouldn't have been able to get the bike out had I slipped in it. No exaggeration, this is KTM/Husaberg type country, DR's, KLR's etc. don't belong here.

So I made it to a sort of pedestal where I could recoup. This ridge (Alta on the other side), across a very deep chasm at the head of the canyon, is about 10,300 ft. Midway's about 5,600 ft.
Not only was I scared by the steep, rocky reality of it all. It started looking like more rain. I pointed er down and started gittin. This is way steep but the easy part. I lose all interest in pictures when it gets gnarly. (for clarity, I do not consider the picture below even remotely rocky. The gnarly stuff was wall to wall rocks and boulders that kept bouncing me out of line going up and were rolling under the locked up rear going down. I only share this to show how adventurous, and stupid, I am, and to caution anyone to think twice if you get started up this track. When I finally bailed on the climb I had to walk the bike backwards down about 100ft of loose, rocky, rutted steepness to a point where I dared turn it around).

Here's a view of this section of road from below, near the start point. Look just left of center for the lazy brown "S" on the green slope near the top.

Once I got down maybe 1,500 ft and reunited with my wits, I was able to resume gawking at the beauty of it all. As usual, this year's the best ever for wild flowers.
This little excursion had more than a bit of Oz to it and this definitely looks like home.
I can recommend the Kenda K270. I really expected it to be torn up from this ride but it's not. No chunking or even ragged edges on the knobs. Next ride I'm doing something easier. Here's a few pictures from this morning on the other side at Alta.

bonekrusher 07-30-2013 02:46 PM

Awesome ride, I love that area. Thanks for the report, I'll check out the 421 next time I'm up there.

psmcd 08-03-2013 05:30 PM


Originally Posted by bonekrusher (Post 21989872)
Awesome ride, I love that area.

Stand by for more. Your clues on MavChick's American Fork thread sent me playing hookey yesterday. I went to Big Flat Springs and the trail from there went up the ridge to the 157 just like you said. I'll post some pics and trail scouting. Found a few rocks and roots and steeps I didn't care to deal with solo but the link trails would allow you to cover a lot of ground.

psmcd 08-04-2013 12:47 PM

South side of Snake Creek etc.
Bonekrusher had the link to 157 so I took the road (about 7 miles up FR85 from the Wasatch State Park Visitor Center) he called 420. Here's the map again:
The sign's broken so just watch for it on the west side of the road.

1 - 2 miles up there are a couple of forks to the right that lead back into upper Snake Creek but they don't go far. The single-track link to 157 veers left up to the ridge. This is do-able on just about anything narrow with good clearance, but don't unless you're okay with riding back down. Everything beyond is steeper and rockier.

The view of Big Flat and down to Midway.

From here you can go south on 157, Past the Ant Knolls, about 3 miles along the ridge to Pole Line Pass.

Or west down the 032 connector trail into Dry Fork canyon that also drains from Sunset Peak. I only scouted this trail from either end but you'll know right away whether you want to take it. Public service announcement:!! Do not ride this trail without walking at least a couple of switch-backs first. It's extreme and I would qualify it high expert riders only! See the photo below this one.

Dry Fork is accessed on FR198 - easily ride-able on the DR650. Here's a look east at the 32 trail going from 198 (through the switch-back viewed above) to 157 on the ridge .

Don't be fooled by these sections of 32 that you can see. Walk, don't ride because there's nowhere to turn the bike around, to scout this trail. If you're too lazy or weak to walk it I don't know what else to tell you. It will be epic, and most likely unpleasant.

A look at where things split at the top of 198.
And a few views of 198 along the way.

More to follow about 157, Mineral Basin, Granite Flat and Silver Creek.

psmcd 08-04-2013 05:43 PM

157 Pole Line Pass to 032
I may be in to an OCD phase on this 157 but it's such great ridge line views of the peaks and canyons between Alta/Brighton on the north and Mt Timpanogos 20 miles south. I'm conjuring an overnighter just to catch sunset and sunrise from one of the many, ideal vantage points on this trail.

So I didn't ride south from the 032 trail between Big Flat Springs and Dry Fork. I went back down the 420 road to 085. Gratuitous through the quakies shots - just wait till fall.

It's only about 4 miles of fun dirt road around the east and southern base of the Ant Knolls to Pole Line Pass where it bisects the 157 before continuing west to the North Fork of American Fork Canyon. Riding 157 north from here involves a bit of traversing and a couple of switchbacks and one small root crossing. Earlier this year I got turned around by a downed tree on a steep traverse but that's gone now. About a mile on the demands intensify at the Ant Knolls.

It's either up to the right for rocky climbs,

or left on the 031 alternate which is supposedly easier.

I chose none of the above for this ride, having vowed to not scare myself like last week, and headed back to the pass. No sense getting anxious, done right this is an enjoyable ride.

Peeking through the trees to civilization below,

while frolicking in nature's splendor,

I nominate it,

Utah's Sound of Music Single Track

I only walked south of the pass about a 1/2 mile a few weeks ago. It's sort of interesting,

maybe a bit above average,

and if you look around,

and closely,

you might see something appealing.

Many diversions to come. Pot Hollow and East Ridge trail on one side. Hollman, Mill Canyon, Tibble Fork and Mud Springs on the other. This could play out through September at this rate.

bonekrusher 08-05-2013 02:14 PM

Great pictures!

Makes me want to go up there to ride again. Thanks for sharing yet again. :D

psmcd 08-05-2013 05:34 PM

let your fingers do the walking
My obsession has led to youtube. Thanks to the GoPro boys I'll be doing sections on foot or mountain bike. I'd need a skyhook or a pet gorilla to deal with the DR if it got out of line between minutes 4 and 7. I think that's the section above Forest Lake, just south of Pole Line Pass.

Hollman 039 is a definite no for the DR650.

Tibble Fork 040 is tempting. I would start from the bottom. 14 tooth countershaft sprocket for sure. Those switchbacks will be steeper than they appear on camera. At least there's the possibility of turning the bike around on this trail.

Tibble 041 is pretty. Lumps and roots to reckon with. I hate that stuff when it's wet but I'm not getting on anything greasy with the DR, I don't want to have to pick it up, let alone drop it:puke1

173 makes for loop potential but the dead engine coasting reveals the grade. I detest wrangling a big, heavy bike and it resists, preferring instead to just pitch a rider silly enough to try so if I can't thread it through, I'll just turn around. There's always plenty to see from where it's not a contest.

Honkey Cat 08-05-2013 08:11 PM

Thans for taking the time to take pics

psmcd 08-07-2013 11:32 PM

Wagering with Wotan
I confess, I'm obsessed and left work early to continue exploring the 157. First a quick chain clean and lube, and install a 14 tooth countershaft sprocket. I could see on the youtubes these side-canyon trails would have some steep, boney sections.

Riding I-215 down to I-15 and south through the Salt Lake valley I could see some wild winds dropping out of the Oquirrhs. Yesterday a micro-burst took out about 50 poles of a power line along the Bacchus highway on the west side of the valley. There were a couple of dust clouds blasting in that area as I rode toward Happy Valley.

Task at hand, I dashed up American Fork Canyon to Tibble Fork to explore some of the link trails to 157. Map again:

I figured 41 would be steep so went up to 40 with the intent of veering south on 173. Good thing I put on the 14 tooth cause 40 was steep too with a few rocks, roots and twists here and there. It was kind of ominous as there had been dark clouds chasing me all the way and once in the trees I had to change the sunglasses for clears. You never know how these summer afternoon storms play out so I played on.

I made it up to the junction with a plan to split south on the 173.

But I went left (east) on the 40 because I met a nice woman and her daughter there who had just come down 40 and she was emphatic about how beautiful it is. She said there were rocks and climbs and switch-backs but the trail was wide and no worse than what I'd just come up. Better the sort of known, than the unknown.

It opened up a bit briefly and encouraged me.

Then it was back in the trees for more climb. The first switch-back was pure bridge club.

The trail roughened a bit from here but she was right, it was mostly wide, if not so rock and root free as the first turn. There were a few steep, rough climbs but nothing an adequate rider can't negotiate. With the right tires, and low enough gearing, any bike with decent clearance can run this trail, at least if it's dry. But don't blame me if you have to turn a big bike around where you can't go on, it does get steep and tight in a few places.

The other hazard are the views pulling your eyes from the trail just where it turns into a hidden rock garden with a bit of grade for good measure.

The allure is great, and the simple mind pursues more candy.

There was a sort of Hansel and Gretel feel to this ride. Yet it wasn't a witch, but Wotan, railing about in the high country.

Emerging from the shelter of the forest, I discovered the storm not behind, but before me.

All of the above thoroughly caught my attention. Seemed I might be in for a thrashing so I considered my options. I had now arrived at the junction of 40 with 157 and the jeep road 180 that descends to the Cascade Springs paved road. I wanted to ride the 157 southwest to the Alpine Loop but figured the road to the Loop would save time and lead to shelter if necessary.

By the time I made it to the summit of the Alpine Loop Wotan was railing and raging northeast. I was still tempted to explore 157 and thought I could follow it north, trailing the storm. So far I was only hearing thunder and catching an occasional drop of rain. About a mile up the trail I walked down a bit of this section to make sure it didn't dump me in some pit I couldn't climb out of.

It was only about 4 miles total from the Loop to where I'd bailed off the ridge. Though this portion of 157 is not too difficult, it does have large case or foot bashing boulders lurking in the vegetation right beside the trail. Don't get too distracted or lackadaisical, this is no place for a mishap.

The Pine Hollow(47), 173, and Tibble Fork (41) intersections made it easy to orient.

This may be the end of the easy portion of 157.

It climbs quite a bit higher and traverses some steep slopes to the north. I bailed again at the 180 jeep road and went to Cascade Springs, over the hill to Midway on freshly dampened dirt, then over Guardsman's Pass (saw three moose) and down Big Cottonwood Canyon (saw big 4 point buck).

Mudclod 08-08-2013 05:49 PM

Outstanding images man, thanks!

utefan 08-08-2013 06:23 PM

Great area and photos?

bonekrusher 08-09-2013 09:48 AM

The Uinta trail council just cleaned up 057 - they suggest going only 1 way and say that going the other direction is not only harder but will damage the trail more.

psmcd 08-10-2013 09:41 PM

As in not where I want to ride the DR650. Below a few views of the first mile of 157 from the intersection with forest road 180 toward the intersection with the southern end of trail 38 and then the top of trail 39. I would say there's a 1,000' elevation gain in this mile but the first bit is flat.

Above it appears to be endless, looking back a fair bit.

Steep, loose and a bit technical.

Then it keeps going on, and on.

These guys were not having any trouble with it.

I guarantee it's steeper than it looks.

Once you hit the 38 and 39 trail intersection level it's mostly traversing and at walking speeds the views are incredible. Moto speed best keep your eyes on the trail. I can't speak to the 38 traverse around the east side or the 157 around the west as I went straight up the ridge to Mill Canyon Peak. Youtube videos showed some gnarly, narrow, precipitous rock sections that again disqualify heavy dual-sport bikes. Below are a few views that would tempt you anyway.

View from on top.

bonekrusher 08-12-2013 12:51 PM

Thanks for the pics again - awesome. I am really starting to wish I had access to a lighter bike.

psmcd 08-12-2013 01:57 PM


Originally Posted by bonekrusher (Post 22085157)
Thanks for the pics again - awesome. I am really starting to wish I had access to a lighter bike.

Me too but I've had many race bikes (long ago) and now I'm enjoying the quiet, comfortable simplicity of road riding the heavier bike to where I want to explore. The important thing is to know your, and your bike's, limitations and stay within them. I've pushed the limits a few times in this area but by getting familiar with the trail system I'll be able to steer clear of potential trouble spots. There's a lot of freedom and economy (time and money) in riding a dual-sport type bike so we just have to remember the advantages when it's necessary to by-pass certain sections of trail.

I share the above because I need to repeat it to myself. I'm not looking for epic adventure, just access to beautiful country and fun rides.

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