There is something unique and beautiful to be found in every season when hiking along the Wasatch Front. Whether it’s the colorful wildflowers in the summer, the blazing yellow aspens and red maples in fall, or the winter wonderland created by freshly fallen snow, there is always something beautiful to see.
With the advent of spring in our mountains, the new leaves unfolding on the trees and the plants sprouting from the ground over the next few weeks allow you the unique opportunity to experience all the different shades of green created by Mother Nature.
Hiking the Tibble Fork Trail up American Fork Canyon will take you through some of the most beautiful pine and spruce forests in our state where you will enjoy the interplay of colors. This trail is suitable for older children who are in good physical condition.
The Tibble Fork Trail (#041) begins at the eastern end of the road that crosses the dam, at the southern edge of Tibble Fork Reservoir. While crossing the dam, take notice of the hill sloping down to your right – a popular venue for sledding in winter to which you may want to bring your family.
This trail is open to hikers, mountain bikers, horses and motorbikes, and you might see any or all of those while you hike. During wet periods in early spring and summer, the Forest Service posts trail closure signs to all users except hikers, in order to protect the trail.
After crossing the dam, take the trail forking to the right and head up the hill. As you start on the trail take a moment to turn around and look to your west to see the north summit of the Timp Range, and then north to see Box Elder Peak.
You may also notice some spring flowers blooming along the trail at this time of year -- Wasatch Bluebell, Purple Virgins-Bower, Glacier Lily, Yellow Salsify, Spring Beauty and Wallflowers.
The trail continues along a steady incline and will reach a stream. Veer to the right and hike up the hill and through a steep ravine. As you climb to the top of the ravine you will enter a small meadow surrounded by aspen, pine and spruce. Don’t stop here, but continue up ahead to an even larger meadow.
At this point, you will not be able to hike any further because the beauty of your surroundings will overcome you and cause you to drop your pack and grab your camera. Be sure to turn around and look north at the beautiful snow-capped mountain range that includes the American Fork Twin Peaks, White Baldy and Red Baldy. This will be the best spot on the trail to take some great pictures. This would also make a wonderful place to camp for a short backpack trip.
As you continue through the forest you will head up another steep hill to the junction for the Mud Springs/Mill Canyon Trail, about 1.7 miles into your hike, marked by a wooden Forest Service sign. (If you check out the online Photo Gallery for this article on Utahadventurer.com, you will see photos of this entire hike, including all the signs).
Turn left at the sign, which will put you onto the Mud Springs Trail (#173) for just a half a mile. As the trail starts to go downhill you will travel through another large meadow. Continue hiking down the trail until you see another wooden sign for the Mill Canyon Trail (#040). Turn left at this junction and hike one more mile to the river. Follow the metal Forest Service markers to stay on this trail, which will be marked with #040.
You will now be hiking parallel to the river on its south side. During wet periods, the trail will actually look like a shallow stream, as seen in our online photo gallery. A few hundred yards ahead you will see a metal bridge, which you will cross. You will now be at the Mill Canyon Trailhead and should head left onto a dirt road that takes you back to the reservoir. Hike along the path or parking lot next to the reservoir and back to the parking area next to the dam.