Monday, June 21, 2010

American Fork Canyon - Pole Line Pass Loop

I got an early start this morning and rode up the North Fork Road* from Tibble Fork Reservoir to Pole Line Pass.  I don't particularly enjoy climbing on double track, but often it's the best option for a long, sustained climb on the mountain bike.

*One of these times I'd like to come up the North Fork (not on a weekend**), camp and explore some of the abandoned mining sites that are in this area.  From looking on a topo map, there are lots of them.

**Early Monday morning has got to be the perfect time to ride this road.  I didn't see one ATV the entire ride.  I imagine on the weekend, it's a mess.

At the top of Pole Line (at the spot of the above photo), I hopped on the GWT (Ridge Trail 157) and headed south.  The trail was in great condition until just north of Forest Lake where I ran into some snowy patches on a north facing forested slope and had to dismount to avoid the muck.

Here's Forest Lake as seen from 157 with Mary Ellen Gulch to the left and Mineral Basin to the Right

A bit further south on the trail I ran into more snow and it was back to hike-a-biking.  I was amazed at the determination of some trail biker, who was obviously hell bent on passing through this portion of the trail despite the snow, ice and mud.  I had a hard enough time crossing carrying my 20 lb. bike and couldn't imagine trying to make it on a heavy trail bike, especially given one slip on the ice would certainly result in a 100 ft. tumble, bike and all.

Once back on the sun facing slopes, the trail was dusty dry.  On the descent below Mill Canyon Peak, the trail bikes and runoff had chewed up/left a bunch of loose melon sized rocks on the trail that made the descent tricky.  Is the trail always in that condition or just early before trail work is done?  I would think a crew spending a 1/2 day could really improve this portion of the trail by moving some of the loose rocks.  Note:  I did my part and move a bunch of loose rocks from the middle of the trail.

I finished up the dirt ride by continuing on 157 to the Alpine Loop summit parking lot and then returning back down the road to Tibble


Anonymous said...

Nice ride. I have always wanted to try that. I would however, make one slight modification. I would drop off the ridge at Mud Springs to the top of Pine Hollow. Then I would take it to Salamander and back out to the road. You would pop out just above the turnoff to Timpanooke giving you more time in the dirt...

Aaron said...

...or just stay on Pine Hollow, which if you keep to the right near the bottom will allow you to stay on dirt till Mutual Dell.

How long did this loop take you? Do you have a gps file of it? I've never done the loop this way. Did you take North Fork far enough north that you were able to ride the ant knolls section of 157? That has to be one of my favorite sections of trail anywhere. Too bad the middle section of 157 is so rough.

KanyonKris said...

Big ride for a Monday morning.

Normally I would choose Mill, Tibble or Mud Springs to go back down to Tibble Fork Reservoir, but they are closed due to mud / snow.

So my next choice would be to descend Pine Hollow then take the road back to Tibble.

Or take Pine Hollow then Salamander to Timpooneke.

How was the climb to Pole Line? Seems like it would be a long grind.

bjchild said...

Justin, Aaron, KK - Thanks for the tips on the alternate routes. I was wishing for more dirt as I descended the paved road on my 29er. I kept thinking of when I was a kid on the farm and the big "spray rigs" would drive by on the road with their giant flotation tires, like the ones on monster trucks, humming away.

The total loop took me about 3-1/2 hours. The climb up to Pole Line Pass is about 8 miles and I think it took me about an hour and 10 or 15 minutes. The bottom portion is mostly at a manageable grade. Once you turn off at mile 5 (Baker Fork), it heats up a bit until you reach the top of Pole Line. The altitude is a factor too (9K at Pole Line 9.6K at the highest point).

I have a GPS of the route, but it's on my home computer. This link shows a topo of the loop I did with the exception of me taking the road down from the summit. You'll see I didn't hit Ant Knolls (a bit North of where I was). That sounds like a cool trail.

Evil said...

Great write up / review and pics. Nate Kingdon posted a link to your blog on the twitters.