Wasatch Front Dual Sport Ride – July 2017


1 July, 2017

Shortly after Jamie got here motorcycle license, I took her on a dual sport ride through some of the canyons near our home.  I just completed a similar loop, this time with Jason, since Jamie was off backpacking in Yellowstone.

We left home at about 10:30 AM and rode up Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Being a Saturday on a holiday weekend, the canyon was extremely crowded.  The traffic was moving slowly, which allowed us time to enjoy the scenery.

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The “S” turn in Big Cottonwood Canyon

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Entering Brighton


We rode around the Brighton loop, then headed up towards Guardsman Pass and over to Midway.

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Guardsman Pass

We took a short detour into town to buy fuel, then started on the Mill Canyon dirt road from Midway to Tibble Fork Reservoir (Snake Creek Road).

The lower portion of the road was very wash-boarded and covered in small, black gravel.  That made the surface very slippery – especially since we had more air in our tires than normal, since most of our ride would be on pavement.

Jason has been trying to learn how to ‘drift’ his motorcycle around corners.  He finally got the back end to break loose – but with the loose conditions, his rear tire slid out from under him.  He went down fast and hard, but luckily nothing was hurt other than his pride.  I had the GoPro running, but unfortunately a tree blocked my view of the actual crash.

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Jason gives the thumbs up, indicating he is okay

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Mill Canyon, or Snake Creek Road

To spice up our ride a little bit, we took a side spur road called Big Flat (#420) which climbed up the mountain to the Ridge Trail (#157).  Big Flat was fairly steep and rutted, and there were a lot of trees hanging over the ‘clean’ side of the road.  The road wasn’t too difficult, but it would be a challenge for beginners.

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The beginning of the Big Flat road

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Some sections of Big Flat were loose and rocky, but not terribly difficult

We stopped half way up for lunch and enjoyed the views from the shade of some Aspen trees (You can tell that it’s an Aspen tree because the way it is).

Big Flat Jul2017 (2)

Lunch stop

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The view from lunch

After lunch, we began our single-track adventure.  I had never before ridden this portion of the Ridge Trail.  The trail here is narrower than the more popular sections farther south.  It also had more side hill exposure than some other sections (but not as much as the middle section near Forest Lake).

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Jason approaching the single-track

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Jason making the final climb to the ridge

Whenever I ride single track after riding pavement, I struggle for a while.  The riding technique is different, and it takes me a while to adapt.  On pavement, you mostly sit and twist the throttle.  On narrow single track, you need to do a lot more maneuvering and maintain good balance while you try to pick the cleanest line.  Thus, this trail was a bit spooky for me and Jason.  I think if we did our normal pre-dirt warm-up drills we would have done much better.  It would have also helped if we let a little air out of our tires.  We didn’t really have any problems on the trail, but we rode slower than usual, which requires even more effort to maintain balance.  Even though we were a bit nervous, we enjoyed the trail and the scenery from the trail.

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The Ridge Trail (#157)

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The trail always seems steeper in real life than in photos

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The trail had a mixture of meadows, Apsen trees, and Pine trees


The single-track crosses the dirt road from Tibble Fork near Pole Line Pass.  We didn’t have time to ride more of the single-track, so we opted to ride the dirt road.  For me, this was by far the scariest part of our ride due to all of the ATVs and side-by-sides on the road.  The dust was very thick and some them were going way too fast for a crowded holiday weekend.

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Heading down from Pole Line Pass

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Some portions of the road have serious cliff explosure

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Other sections follow the beautiful stream


Last year they did some major renovation to the dam at Tibble Fork Reservoir.  The reservoir is now much deeper and larger.  And it is a lot more popular.  The parking lot was full and there were cars parked along the side of the road.  The beach was packed, and there were dozens of people out on the lake in their kayaks and stand-up paddle boards.

Wasatch Front DS Jul2017 (18)

Tibble Fork Reservoir

From here it was pavement back to home.  The ride down American Fork Canyon was enjoyable, but you could feel the heat rise as you approached the valley.

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Riding down American Fork Canyon

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American Fork Canyon

We returned home at about 3:30 PM, covering approximately 95 miles.

Wasatch Dual Sport Jul2017

GPS track

Here are some videos from our ride:

Part 1 – Big Cottonwood Canyon to Big Flat


Part 2 – The Ridge Trail single-track


Part 3 – Pole Line Pass, Tibble Fork, and American Fork Canyon

About gardinerfamilyadventures

A really great family!
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3 Responses to Wasatch Front Dual Sport Ride – July 2017

  1. Pingback: Alpine Loop Dual-Sport Ride – June 2013 | Gardiner Family Adventures

  2. Dave McIntire says:

    Nice writeup Dee! That one sidehilly spot was sure pretty steep! The ride sounds great except for the slab…but riding to the trail beats driving any day…and leaving from the house is even better! Sounds kinda like you Salt Lake guys are experiencing the same as us in CO. Too dang many people out recreating! Lotsa trailheads around here get packed to overflowing…esp the close ones. We gotta leave early in the AM tomorrow. Previously you’d mentioned something about your mtbing being training for an AZ trip. What have ya got in the works?

    • I don’t mind riding pavement in canyons. Fun and twisty and I can keep up with the cars. I just don’t like pavement on major roads with 60+ mph traffic. We only had to ride a few miles to get to Big Cottonwood Canyon. Getting home was longer, so we took back roads as much as we could. We are hoping to go ride the Rainbow Rim trail on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

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