Friday, June 18, 2010

Great Western Trail - Altar to Dry Canyon

A while back I read Dug's account of riding around Timp and ever since I've been dreaming of doing that same ride.  Before I do the whole loop in a day, I'd like to pre-ride portions of the loop that I haven't ridden so that I have a better idea of what to expect.

After work the other day I rode up to the Altar and then continued on the Great Western Trail (GWT), making my way up to the saddle of Little Baldy.  I've decided this is one of my favorite mountain bike rides.  If you haven't ridden it, you should.  You'll love it too.  Here's why it's awesome.  It's a long, sustained climb on single track that alternates between rocky technical terrain, including quite a few sizable tree roots, to smooth, tacky dirt that winds up the mountain under a canopy of old growth pines.  There are some steep switchbacks thrown in the mix that I enjoy trying to clean.  And near the top, before the Little Baldy saddle, your hard efforts are rewarded with this incredible view (looking south to Provo Canyon and Utah Lake):

After the Little Baldy saddle, the trail continues to gain elevation as it traverses across the head of Dry Canyon.  The level of difficulty is high on this stretch due to many tree roots and the loose, narrow trail that has some exposure.  Expect to do some hike-a-biking.

I was hoping to have enough time that evening to complete a loop by dropping down Dry, but I was running out of daylight and wasn't sure how much further I had until the turnoff.  I ended up playing it safely and turned around just prior to where the GWT crosses over this wash* that empties into Dry.

*I later realized from reviewing my GPS track that after crossing this wash I would have had one more gully to cross and a bit more climbing before reaching the meadow where the Dry Canyon trail intersects with the GWT.  Next time I'll keep going and try dropping down Dry.  I've heard the upper Dry descent is sketchy in places, but I don't mind dismounting and walking the bike down in places if I need to.  If anyone has come down this recently, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

Going back down the mountain on the same trail I ascended was still really fun.  I was glad that most all of the hike-a-bike sections were rideable with the help of gravity.

Now, I'm even more excited about riding around Timp after experiencing this taste of the trail.

Oh, and here's a nice meadow that sits just below the GWT at the top of Dry.


Miles: said...

I'd be up for a ride around timp - always wanted to do something like that.

How about a ride like this - Start at snowbird and ride the GWT 25 miles and camp (have someone drop camping gear off) and then ride the remaining 25 all the way to provo canyon?? Just an idea.


bjchild said...

Miles, the bike/camp/bike idea sounds awesome.

I'll let you know on the timp ride.

KanyonKris said...

Good info. I've gone up the GWT as high as the fork for 051, but I can see I need to go higher.

From the photo, that gully looks rugged. That recent storm sent a lot of water down Dry, it looks like that gully got scoured a bit.