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).