Weekend Backpacker: Salt Lake City
Located on the Wasatch Front between American Fork and Provo canyons, theMount Timpanogos Wilderness Area was established in 1984 and spans 10,750 acresof national forest land. Waterfalls, glacial criques, rugged terrain, and wildflowers are all in abundance.
Standing at 11,750 feet, Mount Timpanogos is the second largest mountain inthe 200-mile length of the Wasatch Range. The mountain provides a spectacularbackdrop for your hike. Most of the cliffs in the area are composed oflimestone and quartzite. Look for deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, raptors,raccoon, skunk, squirrel, chipmunk, and pika. Also look for wildflowers in earlysummer, when the Indian paintbrush, penstemon, and mountain bluebell showtheir glorious colors.
Begin at the Aspen Grove trailhead (elevation 6,861 feet) and head west through the aspen trees. After about a mile, the trail will begin to climb gently, then more steeply, on two miles of switchbacks. At 10,000 feet a valley area offers the opportunity to search out some of the spectacular mountain wildflowers that light up the meadows along this segment. Continuing on the trail for another half a mile, you will come to a knoll overlooking Emerald Lake.
At Emerald Lake (elevation 10,800 feet), head up the snow field another 0.75mile for a challenging climb that may require an ice ax and crampons. Past11,500 feet, the trail traverses the western slope to the top. Follow thesame route to descend or head down the other side of the mountain to theTimpanogos Basin. Take the Timpooneke Trail back to Highway 80, about sixmiles northwest of the Aspen Grove trailhead.
Be sure to let someone know of your itinerary and carry at least 2 litersof water per person or a filter. Expect temperatures on the mountain to be about 20 degrees lower than in the valley. Sunscreen is a good idea.
Mid-summer through fall is the best time to hike. Extremely hazardous snowconditions exist in spring and early summer. Sliding down the snowfield aboveEmerald Lake is dangerous.
Camping is permitted at least 200 feet away from trails, lakes, streams and springs. Avoid camping close to or on the island in Emerald Lake. Select already established campsites, if possible. Pack all trash in and out. There is a toilet at Emerald Lake. Campfires are prohibited here.
Access the Aspen Grove trailhead from the North Fork of Provo Canyon off of the Alpine Scenic Highway SR-92. The trailhead and parking lot are located just south of the Brigham Young University's Aspen Grove Camp.
Timpanogos Cave, Uinta National Forest Map, and USGS Aspen Grove.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication