American Fork Canyon in north Utah County is one of my favorite places! It has stunning scenery, amazing hikes and beautiful reservoirs! It is the north half of the Alpine Loop, connecting with Midway at the top and Provo Canyon on the south.
American Fork Canyon
If you have a National Parks Pass ($80/year for most) or have paid ahead for the day, you can go ahead, otherwise stop at the toll booth on your way up the canyon. For the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest (American Fork Canyon and Mirror Lake Highway) it is $6 for a 3-day pass, $12 for a 7-day pass, $45 for a year pass.
American Fork Canyon has very little cell service, unless you have AT&T as your provider. You will probably want to download maps in advance.
Alpine Loop Scenic Drive
The Alpine Loop Scenic Drive is one of the best places to see fall colors and mountain views in all of Utah.
Click above for the whole loop. This post is just about the American Fork Canyon side.
American Fork Wildlife
Big Horn Sheep live near the entrance of American Fork Canyon, so sometimes you get lucky and se them grazing.
There are also moose, deer and other animals.
American Fork River
The American Fork River that created American Fork Canyon is beautiful! Here are a few long exposures of the twists, turns and little waterfalls along it.
Canyon Nature Trail
Between the Swinging Bridge Picnic Area and across from the Timpanogos Cave parking lot is the Canyon Nature Trail (0.6 paved easy).
Tibble Fork Reservoir
The next junction you come to allows you to turn right to continue up American Fork Canyon turn left towards Tibble Fork Reservoir. We love the beauty all year round!
The mountainside is gorgeous here too, especially in late spring and early summer!
The hike to Silver Lake Flat is lovely.
You can drive just above to the Granite Flats Campground. Beyond this the road isn’t paved and is a bit rough. I did it in our minivan, but had to take the three miles very slowly. It’s much easier in our Subaru. By fall Silver Flat Lake is very low, but in June it’s the prettiest lake around.
Silver Lake in American Fork Canyon
There is the trailhead that begins at Silver Lake Flat that heads to to Silver Lake (4.7 miles, moderate). It is also a stunning lake!
So the hike up to Silver Lake!
Pine Hollow Trailhead
Returning back to US-92 as you continue up the canyon. It is worth it to pull into the Pine Hollow Trailhead even if you don’t plan to do one of the hikes.
Pine Hollow Loop (4.5 miles, moderate) is an amazing trail!
When the gate is closed you can also hike the Alpine Road in Winter (0-16 miles, moderate).
There is another opportunity for a very brief detour. The way to continue up the canyon is to head left at the junction to continue UT-92. Instead if you turn right and drive for one minute you will come to the Timpooneke Trailhead.
*New starting July 2023 there is a reservation system to park in the Timpooneke parking lot on weekends and holidays through mid-October from midnight through the next afternoon. In the later afternoons and evenings it will still be first come-first serve, but of course you’d have to be gone before the next reservation period. Weekdays are still first come first serve. The cost is $6 plus a $2 reservation fee. Sign up at Recreation.gov.
This is one of the main starting points to hike Mount Timpanogos. Other great trails that begin here are Scout Falls Viewpoint (3.0 miles, easy), Scout Falls (3.0 miles, moderate), Julie Andrew’s Meadow (3.5 miles, moderate), and Island Meadow (2.0-2.6, moderate).
Scout Falls (photos below)
Island Meadow (photos below)
The pullouts just before the Summit Trailhead are very beautiful!
Summit Trailhead that is at the highest point of the road. After it you will be heading downhill again towards Provo Canyon or towards Midway. Some of the hikes from this trail are the Ridge Trail 157 (up to 15 miles, moderate) and Primrose Overlook (3.1 or 4.5 miles, moderate).
Primrose Overlook (photos below)
If you want to continue check out this post on the Alpine Loop.
Stats: Distance – 11 mile loop
Approximate driving time – 60-90 minutes (longer if including hikes)
Permits needed – $6 three-day pass per vehicle or National Parks Pass (and additional $8 fee to reserve weekend or holiday parking in the Timpooneke parking lot)
Pets allowed – Yes
American Fork Canyon Entrance