Mount Timpanogos – A Utah County Classic Hike

Mount Timpanogos from American Fork Canyon

View of Mount Timpanogos from American Fork Canyon

It is visible from almost everywhere in Utah county, looming above its neighboring peaks in majestic grandeur.  Home to one of Utah’s only glaciers(technically it is a permanent snowfield) it is Mount Timpanogos.  People ascend Timpanogos year round with snow shoes, skis, crampons, and in the summer with a good pair of hiking boots.

This is a classic hike in Utah County and in the state and can be completed by anybody in relatively good shape who enjoys a full day of hiking.  The mountain can be conquered from trails on either side which meet up near the saddle.  From Provo Canyon hikers can take a slightly shorter and slightly steeper trail that begins near Aspen Grove, just above Sundance Ski resort.  A slightly longer and less steep trail begins at the Timpooneke campground up American Fork canyon.

Either trail offers beautiful views and a journey to be enjoyed.  As always for those of you who like to get to the point here is the skinny on the trails.

The Skinny:

Timpooneke Trail head

Distance Roundtrip: 15 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,575 ft.

Aspen Grove Trail Head

Distance Roundtrip: 14 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,850

Both hikes are out and back and the trail is well maintained.  Allow 8-12 hours to complete the hike depending on the speed at which you hike.

Each hike is a beautiful one, as I am more partial to the Timpooneke trail I’ll focus the rest of this post on this trail, and describe the Aspen Grove hike in a later post.

Timpooneke Trail head

The Timpooneke Trail head is actually located within the Timpooneke campground about 8.4 miles up American Fork canyon.  There is a parking lot dedicated for hikers who aren’t camping, but be sure to arrive early if you are hiking on a Saturday or Holiday as this lot fills up fast.

The hike begins a gentle climb through a meadow until you hit the first of many switchbacks on this hike.  About a mile into the hike you will come to Scout Falls which is short trail that departs from the main trail and offers a view of Scout Falls.  These falls are larger in the early season due to run off and don’t quite disappear later in the season as water levels decrease.

A Moose cow and calf on Timpanogos

A cow and calf grazing in middle basin on Timpanogos

From Scout falls you will take switch backs to middle basin where wild flowers and different animals like moose can be spotted.  As you make your way through middle basin and up another set of switchbacks sometimes referred to as the ladder you will come across several little water falls as the stream criss-crosses the trail.

You know that you are almost to Timpanogos basin when you come to an area known as the “Head Wall”  This is an area where a couple of steep switchbacks cut up and over a scree area.

Late Snow on Timpanogos Headwall

If attempting Timpanogos before the middle of July expect to run into snow around the Head Wall which can make the hike more challenging

Once you pass this area you are only a few minutes from Timpanogos basin, the last basin before the saddle and peak. At this point Timpanogos peak becomes visible.

The meadow provides a beautiful view of the peak above as well as a bit of a rest as the trail through the meadow flattens out before you reach the next big ascent up to the saddle.  Depending on the time of year you hike many beautiful wild flowers can

View of Timpanogos peak with wildflowers below

View of the peak from Timpanogos basin below covered in wildflowers

be seen in Timpanogos basin, it is definitely worth it to take a rest here and enjoy the beautiful scenery below the peak.

In the meadow the trail splits with one trail heading towards Emerald lake and the other towards the saddle and summit.  If you plan to ride the glacier to descend from the peak, you will end up at Emerald Lake and then hike this trail back to the meadow.  If you don’t plan to ride the glacier back, you may want to take a detour to see the lake and perhaps filter some water as you continue your hike.  One caution that most injuries on Timpanogos occur on the Glacier so be careful if you choose to descend this way.

Looking West from the top of Mount Timpanogos

View of Emerald Lake from the top of Timpanogos

As you make your way through the meadow you will see the saddle above you.  Switchbacks will lead you to the saddle where you will see into Utah Valley below for the first time in the hike.  From the saddle the peak is just about 30-45 minutes away.  The rest of the hike is mostly on rock and scree slopes.  This is the most exposed portion of the hike, but can be traversed safely by most hikers.

As you hike to the peak a small steel house will come into view.  This marks the top of the peak and your destination.  Timpanogos peak stands at 11,749 feet and provides a breath taking view of both the Utah and the Heber valleys.

Many people choose to hike Timpanogos at different seasons and different times.  Many will ascend the mountain and night to see the sunrise.

Sunrise as seen from the top of Timpanogos in late summer

Sunrise from the top of Timpanogos

If you decide to attempt a night summit be sure to bring some warm clothes as the top of Timpanogos prior to sunrise can get cold even during the middle of summer.

Timpanogos is one of the prettiest hikes in the Wasatch and is well worth the effort to make it to the top.  Feel free to share your comments and thoughts with me about this hike at DustinACook@gmaill.com, and don’t forget to get outside and have some fun!

About Dustin

Healthcare professional by day, Outdoor adventurer on the evenings and weekends.
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