Highland, Utah (Utah) Technical Rating: 4-6
Last Updated: 07-24-2016
Lower Mill Canyon
Alpine Ranger District
Forest Lake Highlights
This is an awesome spur off of Lower Mill Canyon that takes you away from the crowd and gives you some fun on the rocks. The trail weaves through the pine forest up to about 10,000 feet and into the middle of an aspen forest surrounding Forest Lake. Most of the trail is shaded and there are a few spots where mud is usually present. With its rock gardens and mud pits, it will keep people of all skill levels and vehicles capabilities entertained through this short trail. This is also a great trail to camp along since you will be off of the busy trail, however, there can still be a fair amount of traffic on warm summer weekends. There is a large amount of wildlife present if you keep your eyes open, and once at the top, can be a very peaceful spot to relax.
Technical rating: (4-6) Easy-Moderate
Quite rocky or deep ruts. Rocks to 12" and frequent. Water crossings may exceed hub depth with strong currents. Shelves to 6". Mud may require checking before proceeding. Moderate grades to 20 degrees. Sidehill may approach 30 degrees. 4WD necessary and second attempts may be required with stock vehicles. Caution may be required with wider vehicles.
Whoops, it looks like you forgot to sign in.
Sign in to access:
- Directions to the trailhead
- GPS file
- Route description and waypoints
- Trail images and video
- Trip reports
- And much more...
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.
You must then do the first 4 miles of Lower Mill Canyon to reach the trailhead to Forest Lake
This is a rough dirt road with some fun here and there. You start with a creek crossing that is usually below 8 inches but can be nearly impassable if there is a high spring runoff. Right off of the start, you climb your first little hill to the information billboard with maps and camping info. The next stretch is probably the most difficult along the trail. The first rock pile has boulders spaced about the distance of a wrangler wheelbase so you constantly have to climb two rocks at once. They are also in the middle of the trail, so you can jog the easier route to the right or take the harder line to the left. If you slip off, you can easily high center or at least get a few good driveline scrapes. Immediately after this little rock pile is the first of 2 little rock gardens. This is a good spot to entertain yourself since it is the bigger of the two and has more lines. The following rock pile is just a short drive farther along, containing a good poser rock. Once you are past the 2 rock gardens, you will pass a fairly large campsite (3-5 rigs) on trail right. After this campsite, you will be in the trees for almost all of the trail. There are a few mud pits here and there that change weekly based on rainfall, but you will almost always encounter mud. The first few pits are nothing to worry about. A little before halfway up the trail, you will meet the next obstacle. This one is a single track with a large rock on the left, medium rock trail central, and nothing trail right. The left line combining the larger and medium rock is a pretty steep wall to climb. You will probably need a locker and 35+ tires to actually make it up the larger rock. The right line can be made easy if you lead your tires correctly, but can also be a good flexing spot if you angle properly. A wrangler on 31's could maneuver this. After that obstacle is some more campsites and mud pits, but nothing as large as the last. This pit is nothing difficult to push through, but is long, tippy and can be very deep. Shortly after the last pit, you crest a hill and see Forest Lake; A rain-made lake with no water running in or out.
All routes in the Pleasant Grove Ranger District that hate a gate will close seasonally (weather permitting). This route is accessed by a trail with 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)
The trailhead is a turnoff from Lower Mill Canyon directly through a creek. The creek is usually passable, but during the spring when the trail first opens the water will be moving quickly. The majority of the year, it is a crystal clear stream around 6-8 inches deep.
2: Informational Board (0.1mi)
The informational board is only a few hundred feet from the start, showing a map, camping info, fire info, and a short bio about the area. There is just a small pull out here and if you haven't already, lock in your hubs and get into 4 low.
3: First Rock Pile (0.1mi)
This rock pile is probably among the hardest of the trail. You have a couple of different options to decide how large of rocks you wish to go over. If you take it far left, you will have one big rock on the driver's side that will tip you pretty good, while your passenger side is going up and down constantly over medium sized rocks (12-16"). If you take one of the lines through the middle or right, you will have to be sure to keep tires on the high points. Just about any vehicle will scrape something here if you don't stay high.
4: Rock Garden (0.1mi)
The rock garden is large and has anywhere from a 2 to a 6 difficulty. The lines are in no particular order but the easiest route is to swing around to trail right and the hardest is to go over the main big rock, trail center, that is about 2 feet tall, but has no ramp or even a vertical face. It is strictly a shelf at 24 inches. Lockers help greatly but are not needed if you are good with the skinny pedal.
5: Second Rock Garden (0.2mi)
The next rock garden is more or less stretched out over the next quarter mile. There are some different lines you can choose to take or not, but the best part is the perfect poser rock near the end of this second garden. You can't miss it slightly right of trail center.
6: Campsite (0.3mi)
This is the largest of the campsites along the trail before the lake. It can hold 3-5 rigs and tents. The campsite will be on the right.
7: Big Rock (0.7mi)
This is a fun little body twister. If you angle your vehicle right, you can get some pretty good flex out of this little obstacle. There is no bypass.
8: Mud Pits (1.6mi)
Along the trail, you may encounter mud pits. Most disappear quickly but this one usually sticks around for a while. However, it is still only around a few days out of the season, but notable when present. There is a smaller hole followed by a run of about 50 feet. The driver's side is a bit lower than the passenger side so you will tip a little bit, but nothing to worry about. People have made a bypass road above it, but it can be very tippy and if wet, very dangerous. This pit can be anywhere from 1-3 feet deep. Fortunately, the mud in the run is not very sticky.
9: Second Informational Board (1.8mi)
This informational board has the same information as the board near the trailhead. Basic rules apply: If its too hot to touch, its too hot to leave, clean up after yourself, respect the land, and camp 200+ feet from the water.
10: End (2.0mi)
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It might not be a fresh and crystal clear lake, but the air around it is cooling on a hot day, and it is surrounded by beautiful green aspens. Camping up here is about as quiet as you can get and you can see almost every start in the sky. Wildlife runs around often, but unfortunately, there are no fish to be caught up here. Keep in mind no vehicles are allowed to drive in the lake, and you must camp at least 100 feet from the water. Also, note the area that has been blocked off by logs. This area is strictly off limits to motorized vehicles.
Camping and Lodging
There is a large amount of camping on this trail. At Forest Lake, you can find almost any spot and settle down, however, you must be at least 100 feet away from any water source. Along the trail, there are a few spots to camp that are nice and shaded, but you will likely have people rolling by at any hour. You can also camp at any of the sites around this network of trails and run this trail in a few hours. Lodging is available down the canyon in Pleasant Grove, Highland or Alpine.
Questions & AnswersNo questions have been submitted.
Offroaded on 07-24-2016
Low Temperature: 65° F
High Temperature: 75° F
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.
Offroaded on 06-26-2016
Low Temperature: 55° F
High Temperature: 75° F
I headed up in the early morning on a Sunday to avoid the rush. It was fairly chilly until about 9 A.M. as there was still frost over the shaded part. The first rocky part seems to have been dug out a fair bit more, proving a bigger challenge of not getting high centered with such a scattered pattern. Both of the rock gardens are about the same. The rock in the middle of the trail has been dug around making it a little bit more difficult to keep all 4 on the ground. Even though the trails have only been open for a few weeks, the trail was all dry including the run. The lake is full and the day was beautiful!