|Mt Timpanogos Summit via Timpooneke Trail
Length: 15 miles round trip
Description: Mount Timpanogos is the impressive wall that dominates the landscape on the northeast side of Utah Valley. It is one of Utah’s most recognizable mountains, and perhaps Utah’s most popular mountain hiking destination. At 11,749 feet, it is the second-highest summit of the Wasatch Mountains (only Mt Nebo is higher).
Two trails are commonly used to reach the summit. The first is the Aspen Grove Trail, which runs 8.3 miles one way, starting at the Theater-in-the-Pines picnic area on the mountain’s east side. That trail is very scenic and passes several waterfalls.
The Timpooneke Trail also leads to the summit, extending about 7.5 miles one way from the Timpooneke Campground in American Fork Canyon. Horses are allowed on the Timpooneke Trail, but not on the Aspen Grove trail.
Wildflowers are spectacular along both trails, as are fall colors. Wildlife is often seen along both trails, including a herd of mountain goats. A snowfield on top of the mountain never melts (it is commonly called a glacier, but that is technically incorrect). Daytime temperatures along the trail are usually warm during summer, but it can get very chilly at high altitudes during stormy weather and at night, so dress in layers and bring a jacket. Light hiking boots are recommended footwear.
Here we describe the Timpooneke Trail because it is not as steep and we think it is the better hike. Most people do the hike in one long day. It can also be done as an enjoyable overnight backpack. Early August is the best time to hike if you also want to see profusely blooming wildflowers.
The trailhead is located in American Fork Canyon, at the Timpooneke Campground, along the Alpine Loop Road. You’ll have to pay a fee to enter the canyon and park at the trailhead. The campground is signed. Drive through it to the far side and park in the lot signed as the trailhead. A vault toilet is provided there. The trail is well marked and maintained. It ascends switchbacks and climbs through alpine meadows and basins. At forks, signs are provided showing the route to the summit. Still, it is important to carry a good map. Water is available along the trail but needs to be filtered to make it safe to drink.
After passing through meadows filled with wildflowers, the trail climbs to what is known as the Timp Saddle. Here you have sweeping views of Utah Valley, and also of the summit ahead. Continue hiking south along the well-marked trail and zig-zag up a steep incline to the top of the mountain.
Mt Timpanogos Summit
An old shack marks the summit. It was constructed by early surveyors who used the peak as a triangulation point. From the summit you have wonderful views in every direction.
You can simply return by backtracking, following the exact trail you came up. Some hikers choose to continue south along the ridge to the top of the snowfield (about 1/2 mile) and then hike down the snowfiled to Emerald Lake. Sliding down the snowfield is dangerous and is not recommended.
From Emerald Lake, take the signed trail back to the main Timpooneke Trail, and then hike back to the trailhead.