With the recent snow showers that have been blanketing Utah Valley in white, my family and I decided that a day off was the perfect time to pick up our snowshoes and take them to the mountains near our home. Our destination: Mill Canyon Trail, located approximately half a mile from the Tibble Fork parking lot up American Fork Canyon.
Tibble Fork is truly an outdoor haven. In the summer, mountain enthusiasts as well as families and couples enjoy basking in the sun, cooling in the refreshing lake water, mountain biking various trails, and hiking to scenic views that surround the lake. During the winter, however, these activities are substituted with snowmobiling, sledding, and snowshoeing. As the seasons change and snow falls, the mountain transforms into a winter wonderland, and dampened silence replaces the sounds of summer. To get to Tibble Fork, simply follow SR-92 east into American Fork Canyon, keeping left when the road splits after passing Timpanogos Cave.
Mill Canyon Trail
According to AllTrails, the Mill Canyon Trail is an 11.2-mile loop that takes ambitious hikers around the east side of Tibble Fork deep into the Lone Peak Uintas, however, alternate routes are available along the trail that can shorten the hike considerably. Some routes may take even less than two hours to complete while hiking at a moderate pace. In the winter, snowshoers can hike across the lake to create their own trails, as well.
To access the Mill Canyon Trail, snowshoers should walk approximately half a mile northeast from the Tibble Fork parking lot until they come to a bridge crossing a river, located on the right side of the road. At this bridge, hikers will notice a sign marking the beginning of the trail. From there, snowshoers need only cross the bridge and continue along the trail for as long as they like. The trail eventually loops back to Tibble Fork, however, as I was with my family, we turned around and hiked out the way we had come after only three miles.
The Mill Canyon Trail has some significant elevation gains, and although beautiful, its accessibility is limited in the winter. I would consider the trail to be moderate to moderately difficult, depending on the pace and distance snowshoers determine to hike. You can expect to see beautiful, snow-covered pine trees, rock formations, and sweeping views of the lake when enough elevation is gained. Don’t expect to see many people though; the hike will take you far away from most sledders and other hikers.
The Mill Canyon Trail was the most beautiful hike I have experienced this year. Snowshoeing it with my family during a light snowfall made the journey surreal, and there were moments when the sweeping views took my breath away. Located in Tibble Fork, there are also many activities for enthusiasts to enjoy, besides snowshoeing; sledding is a popular activity on the hills above the parking lot, and countless snowmobile trails run along the mountain, some going as far as Heber. I would recommend that you plan plenty of time to explore, dress warmly, and bring sleds as well as snowshoes.
Unless you live in Pleasant Grove, American Fork, Highland, Alpine, or Lehi, Tibble Fork may be a challenge to access if time is limited. In addition to time restraints, tire chains or a vehicle with four-wheel drive is highly recommended, as spontaneous snow storms can occur with little warning. Furthermore, depending on recent temperatures, Tibble Fork Reservoir may or may not be fully frozen, so individuals should exercise caution whenever crossing.
Visit the AllTrails link here.