Tom’s Experience climbing Mount Timpanogos from Aspen Grove Trail:
Mount Timpanogos is one of the most popular mountains to climb along the Wasatch Front. It isn’t as tall as Mount Nebo to the south, but the beauty of the trail and it’s proximity to the cities can make this mountain crowded on summer weekends.
From the Aspen Grove Trailhead to the summit of Timpanogos and back is about 13.6 miles with an elevation gain of 4,860 feet. There is a fee to get to the trailhead of $6 that is paid at a ranger station before entering the forest, or if you are early there are self pay stations at the trailhead. There are also outhouses and potable water at the Aspen Grove Trailhead.
The Aspen Grove Trailhead is also the same trailhead for the popular Stewart Falls. The trail starts off and you will pass a little ranger hut as you begin up the mountain. The trail is partially paved, up until about the first waterfall, called Timpanogos Waterfall. The Aspen Grove Trail can get a little bit overgrown which is probably why they tried to pave the first mile or so.
After about a mile, the trail will lead right to the first and second Timp Falls. This is a nice place to cool off and take a break before starting back up the steep trail. The trail will switchback a few times leading up to the Primrose Cirque and plenty more waterfalls. The Primrose Cirque probably has the most waterfalls in one area than anywhere else it Utah, depending on the time of year you go, and can be very pretty. Most of the waterfalls are not too close to the trail but can be seen from a distance. Be careful of possible ice bridges that can be created by all of the flowing water during the spring and early summer. Eventually, the trail will level off a little bit and you will be above most of the trees and into a small mountain meadow.
This will lead to Emerald Lake, a great spot to camp for the night, or take a quick break before pushing on to the summit. There is also a small shelter here with volunteers during the busiest summer months of the year. From Emerald Lake, if you look straight up, you can see the summit of Timpanogos as well as the small hut on the peak. Follow the trail as it makes it’s way up to the right of Timpanogos and leads to the Timpanogos Saddle. Keep your eyes open because you can often see mountain goats from the valley of Emerald Lake up to the summit. Also, depending on the time of year you go, the meadows could be filled with wildflowers. The last snow to melt on the mountain will be from Emerald Lake to the saddle. It can be steep and icy if you are hiking in the spring or early summer, so come prepared.
Usually after you hit the saddle, the south side of Timpanogos is fairly snow free in the early summer. The trail from Emerald Lake to the summit is very rocky and can get a little steep. Once you reach the summit you can either head back down the way you came up or you can continue south along the ridge until you reach a snow pile which lasts all year long.
If you decide to continue on to the snow for your descent, there is a trail to follow from the summit along the ridge and it will eventually fork. Take the right fork. We took the left fork and it took us to a 15 foot down climb that wasn’t too difficult but could have been easy to avoid had we known before hand. You can then sled down the snow on your tail if you’d like. Just be careful you don’t get going too fast, and you know how to slow yourself down and stop. More injuries on Mount Timpanogos happen from people sledding down this part and hitting a rock than anywhere else on the mountain.
The snowfall will lead you right to Emerald Lake, and from there you can enjoy the waterfalls again on your way back down to the car. Dogs are allowed on the trail. If you would like to do a shuttle you can make it into a loop hike with the Timpooneke Trail. The most popular route to take for the loop is to hike up Timpooneke to the summit, head down the snow fall to Emerald Lake and then head down Aspen Grove to the Aspen Grove Trailhead. If I had to choose between the two trails and which one is more fun I would pick the Timpooneke Trail because of the pretty mountain valleys and the more gradual climb. However, the waterfalls in the Primrose Cirque as well as Emerald Lake are all very pretty and should not be missed.
Trail Info: To get to the Aspen Grove Trailhead head towards the mouth of Provo canyon on the East Provo Canyon Road. Pass the Forest Service fee booth and the trailhead is well marked almost immediately behind the fee booth on the left. There is quite a bit of parking but it can fill up quickly in the summer months so it is a good idea to get there early.
Aspen Grove Trailhead: 40.404624,-111.605065
Timpanogos Falls: 40.404449,-111.620294
Emerald Lake: 40.393259,-111.639998
Summit of Mount Timpanogos: 40.390816,-111.645935
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