Mountain bike Deer Creek South Fork in American Fork Canyon
The Deer Creek South Fork Loop in American Fork Canyon boasts one of the most fun mountain biking downhill sections in the area. Riders flock to the summit of the Alpine Loop road just to experience this descent; and for good reason as it qualifies for the “3 Fs.” Fast, flowy and fun.
The loop is 6.6 miles of singletrack that winds through groves of aspen trees, thick stands of pine, dry, brushy areas, and open meadows that provide spectacular views of Mount Timpanogos which towers over the sub-peaks in the canyon.
The ride itself isn’t too difficult, unless 1,200 feet of climbing at elevation will bust your lungs. Beginners may take issue with the abundance of root drop-offs and the occasional loose-rock section, but any rider with a hint of technical skill can navigate the singletrack with ease and be rewarded with a steep, packed out downhill that will make you feel like Luke Skywalker flying through the Ewok Forest of Endor on a speeder.
Begin the ride at the Alpine Loop Summit parking area and cross the road north to the Ridge Trail 157. Follow this trail as it rollercoasters up and down through the woods and bushes, eventually leading to an overlook where you should stop and take in the view of Mount Timpanogos.
Continue on Ridge Trail 157 while ignoring side trails that take you to Mud Springs, Pine Hollow or Salamander Flats. When the trail reaches an intersection with the Tibble Fork Trail, go right on the South Fork Deer Creek Trail (252.) This is where the fun begins.
Enjoy the descent, because it’s one of the best in the State of Utah. The trail falls though woods of shady pine trees and provides just enough curves to keep things fast without having to slam on the brakes. Smooth sections of packed out singletrack is broken only by the occasional step-down of tree roots that never requires much maneuvering (or even thinking.) At the bottom, the trail explodes into a huge meadow where you can really open up the throttle for a short hill that leaps up to Cascade Springs Road.
Catch your breath and cross the road, following the South Fork Deer Creek 252 Trail that continues to the right of the dirt parking lot. Another 1.5 miles of uphill riding takes you back to the Alpine Loop Summit where you left the car.
Another popular option is to park where the downhill section ends at the Cascade Springs turnout so you get the uphill section out of the way and end the loop with the bang of the descent.
If you go: From I-15, exit at Alpine-Highland and drive east on highway 92 up American Fork Canyon. You’ll have to pay a $6 fee at the booth the enter the canyon. Continue for 6 miles to a fork and go right. You are now on the Alpine Loop. Drive all the way to the top until you see the summit parking lot on the right. Park here and look for the Ridge 157 trailhead on the north side of the lot.
To take the Cascade Springs start, drive past the summit and turn left onto Cascade Springs Road. At the major turnout on the right, park there and look for the South Fork Deer Creek 252 trailhead.