Lower Mill Canyon

Highland, Utah (Utah) Technical Rating: 2-3

Last Updated: 06-25-2017

Img 0446
Status: Seasonal Closure
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 4.5 Miles
Category: Altitude, Forest, Rock
Highest Elevation: 7,711 '
Duration: about 1 hour
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Go: N/A
Nearest Town:
Highland
Nearest Town w/ Service:
Highland
Nearby Trails:
Miller Hill
Forest Service Road: # FR085
Forest Service / Park District:
Alpine Ranger District

Lower Mill Canyon Highlights

Highlights: Lower Mill Canyon - Highland, Utah

Referred to as American Fork Canyon to the local wheelers, this is one of the few awesome places to offroad near Salt Lake City or Provo. Lush green forest and plenty of camping are to be expected throughout the trail. It is fairly well traveled so you will probably not be alone but there are enough trails to explore that you won't on somebody's back all day. You will get a good taste of what the Utah mountains have to offer as far as the greenery and steep inclines. There are a number of fun obstacles to test anybody's limits, but almost all of them have a bypass if you feel that they are too hard. Camping is everywhere up here and this is as close to the city as you can be while being "away from it all".

Technical rating: (2-3) Easy

Dirt road. Rutted, washes, or gulches. Water crossings up to 6" depth. Passable mud. Grades up to 10 degrees. Small rocks or holes. 4WD recommended but 2WD possible under good conditions and with adequate ground clearance and skill. No width problems for any normal vehicle. Vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.

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Directions to Trailhead

From Salt Lake, head south on I15 until exit 284 for Highland/Alpine. From Provo, head north on I15 until exit 284 for Highland/Alpine. Go east off of the exit and follow UT92 for 12.2 miles until you take a left on UT144. Continue on UT144 for 2.5 miles until you pass Tibble Fork Reservoir. After the parking lot by the lake, the road will U-turn uphill to the left, or you can continue straight to the dirt parking lot. This is the air down lot and the trailhead for Lower Mill Canyon.

 

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:

40° 29' 1.31"N
111° 38' 33.33"W

GPS Exchange File:

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Route Description

This is a fun network of trails that are currently under threat of being evaluated for closures. This is one of few trails of its kind this close to Salt Lake and Provo in the Wasatch range. It will provide incredible green scenery in the spring and summer with plenty of wildflowers and wildlife running around. In the fall, this is a beautiful trail to do while the leaves are changing. It is a fairly mild road, however not maintained so there area few rough spots with loose, sharp rock. Once you hit the U-turns, it can get pretty washed out if there has been any rain. Be careful and pick your line to stay high. Above the U-turns, the road is rough again, but easy until the end. This is a must do for anyone in the Salt Lake Valley. There are only 6 legal trails that you are allowed to travel on up here, the rest are all private property or illegal spurs, so be sure to stay on the proper trails and watch for signs.

All routes in the Pleasant Grove Ranger District that hate a gate will close seasonally (weather permitting). This route has a gate that usually closes in November sometime and reopens when the snow has mostly disappeared (anywhere from late April-June).

1: Trailhead (0.0mi)

Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 1: Trailhead Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 1: Trailhead Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 1: Trailhead

The start of the trail is a dirt parking lot with some trailer space for the day, however, people are encouraged to park in the parking lot for Tibble Fork Reservoir just down the road. It is a fully paved lot with plenty of parking as long as you arrive early. By mid-day on the weekends, you are sure to have trouble finding a spot at all.

2: Group Site (1.2mi)

Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 2: Group Site Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 2: Group Site Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 2: Group Site

Among all of the side campsites along the beginning of the trail, there is one larger group site with a pit toilet. There is plenty of room for camp trailers and vehicles as well as many tent sites. From here, no trailers are recommended, however, that doesn't stop some people!

3: Narrow (3.2mi)

Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 3: Narrow Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 3: Narrow Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 3: Narrow

This is a section of road that changes every year. It is a stretch of maybe half of a mile long where there is only room for one vehicle. A couple of years ago there was a washout and only a side by side or atv could get past it comfortably without needing a spotter to maneuver the downhill ditch. The drop-off on the south side is around 150-200 feet.

4: Lot (3.6mi)

Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 4: Lot Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 4: Lot Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 4: Lot

There is a big dirt lot on trail right just before the turnoff to Forest Lake. This lot could be used for airing down if you haven't already. There is also a campsite here if you walk through the opening at the fence by the lot.

5: Forest Lake Trailhead (3.7mi)

Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 5: Forest Lake Trailhead Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 5: Forest Lake Trailhead Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 5: Forest Lake Trailhead

The trailhead for Forest Lake will be on the right, clearly marked with an FS194 sign as well as the adoption sign. You do cross a creek here, but it is usually shallow and nothing to worry about. As with all water crossings, please check the depth before proceeding.

6: Mary Ellen Gulch Trailhead (3.9mi)

Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 6: Mary Ellen Gulch Trailhead Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 6: Mary Ellen Gulch Trailhead Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 6: Mary Ellen Gulch Trailhead

This parking lot is also the trailhead for Mary Ellen Gultch. Continue straight to finish Lower Mill Canyon.

7: Fork - Stay Right (4.1mi)

Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 7: Fork - Stay Right Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 7: Fork - Stay Right Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 7: Fork - Stay Right

Here is a short spur to the left with some camping areas.

8: Fork - Stay Left (4.1mi)

Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 8: Fork - Stay Left Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 8: Fork - Stay Left Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 8: Fork - Stay Left

There is a short spur to the right, just after the previous spur with some more camping areas.

9: End (4.5mi)

Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 9: End Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 9: End Lower Mill Canyon - Waypoint 9: End

This marks the end of Lower Mill Canyon Trail. From here, you can continue up Mineral Basin or take Baker Fork Road into Midway, Utah.

Camping and Lodging

There are hotels located in the Provo valley all across the Wasatch mountains that will be about 15-30 minutes away depending on location. This trail is known for its camping however so its best if you just pack up your rig and spend the night under the darkness of the beautiful Utah night sky.

50 new zealand january copy

TJ Bosworth

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, he's only been off-roading since he was 16 but fell in love immediately. He attended college in Denver...

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Questions & Answers

Question:

Does access to FR085 close in early winter? Hoping to go up this weekend - no snow up AF Canyon, so it should be clear. Just wasn't sure if they gate it past a certain point in the season despite if there's snow or not.
By Jen on December 01, 2017
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Answer:

Hi! I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. FR085 closes whenever the Forest Service feels that it is appropriate. If conditions are wet after a first snow, they will likely shut down the trail as wet conditions severely impact the trails. If I recall there was one snow storm that had shut the trail system down on Monday, November 27th. Once they close, they are closed for the season.
By TJ Bosworth Official Crew on December 08, 2017

Trip Reports

50 new zealand january copy

TJ Bosworth
Official Crew

Offroaded on 06-25-2017

Status: Open

Conditions: Sunny

Low Temperature: 85° F

High Temperature: 80° F

There is still a fire at the mouth of American Fork Canyon, however the Alpine loop is open from Provo Canyon and you can access the trails from there.

50 new zealand january copy

TJ Bosworth
Official Crew

Offroaded on 06-24-2017

Status: Closed

Conditions: Sunny

Low Temperature: 80° F

High Temperature: 85° F

Update 6/24/17

There is currently a fire at the mouth of American Fork Canyon that has prompted the closure of the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway and therefore access to all trails in the area. Check back for updates on reopening.

50 new zealand january copy

TJ Bosworth
Official Crew

Offroaded on 07-24-2016

Status: Closed

Conditions: Sunny

Low Temperature: 65° F

High Temperature: 75° F

FIRE RESTRICTION

http://fox13now.com/2016/07/24/new-fire-in-american-fork-canyon-prompts-evacuation-of-campgrounds/

All campgrounds and trails in American Fork Canyon have been evacuated and are closed until further notice. Fire during in steep terrain at the intersection of Major Evans Gulch and the North Fork of the canyon. Keep out of the area. Also, any drones in the area will be taken down immediately. Drones are strictly prohibited within any area of a fire. Utah law states fines and prison time.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/utah-votes-let-authorities-disable-drones-near-wildfires-n609041

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