Tom’s Experience Climbing Timpanogos via the Timpooneke Trail:
We started this day off by leaving our house at 3:00am in order to make it to the trail-head by 5:00am. I read a lot of information online that stated if you weren’t in the parking lot by 5:00am you wouldn’t find a parking space, and the nearest parking was about a half mile away. When we arrived there at 5:00 there were plenty of spots but I did notice after we finished there were plenty of people that had to park further down the road.
We started in the dark and the trail was in great condition. The first mile or so is uphill but not too steep. We followed a river and there were lots of trees. The next mile was very steep with a lot of switchbacks and the trail crossed a stream once or twice. It wasn’t hard to cross and it was easy to stay dry.
The switchbacks led into a mountain valley which was really cool. We got here just as the sun was starting to come up to shine on the first beautiful valley. Eventually, the trail starts climbing up a shale embankment that has a pretty steep slope. It is very long and will eventually lead you into a second mountain valley. There was a group of about 20 people who were camping at this point. There is a split off here that will lead to Emerald Lake.
This valley was covered with wildflowers and it was fun to take pictures of the mountains with the flowers. The last steep part of the trail leads from this valley up towards the summit. I thought this final part was the most difficult part of the trail. The views are still nice and once you get a little further up, the trail will start to level off a bit and you can see Provo and Utah Lake.
The rest of the trail is on loose rock and can be a little steep and some people struggle here with exposure. It really isn’t too bad as long as you watch where you are putting your feet, I didn’t notice any problems with rocks moving. At this point the trail was really windy, I’m not sure if that is the case all the time, or if we were just unlucky, but it was very cold and very windy until we made it up to the summit. We saw a family with young children who were too afraid of the height to keep moving so be aware of the steep sides of you (or young kids with you) are afraid of heights. You lose sight of the summit for a while as you continue up; the mountain will play with you, making you think you’ve almost reached it, and when you turn a corner it is still a ways off.
The trail ends at the summit and there is an old survey station to provide a little shelter if it is needed. From the summit you can look back down at the two different valleys that people can take to get to the summit, as well as Emerald Lake and the year round snow fall. If you want to take the snow fall down to Emerald Lake you can by sliding down the snow.
My wife and I decided to head back down the way we came and take the Aspen Grove trail towards Emerald Lake so that we could see that as well and then take the trail that leads back towards Timpooneke. From here, we took the trail back down to the car. The total mileage roundtrip is about 15 miles and it took us about 9 hours from car to car.
As far as mountain climbing goes, this trail was pretty awesome. It had great mountain valleys, year round snow falls, and a mountain lake. It wasn’t too technical and required no special mountain climbing gear. Dogs are allowed on this trail.
The Aspen Grove Trail is another way to get to the summit of Timpanogos. I prefer the Timpooneke Trail because of the awesome mountain views and pretty meadows but the Aspen Grove Trail can have a ton of waterfalls in the early summer and is still very pretty. With a shuttle you can do both trails, starting at Timpooneke, climbing to the summit and then descending the Aspen Grove Trail.
Trail Info: Trail starts at the Timpooneke Campground in American Fork Canyon. There is an entrance fee to get into the canyon that is $6 per vehicle. Make sure you bring enough water and food to last you most of the day, as well as clothing to change into as the temperature changes up and down the mountain. The trail is easy to follow but there are a few side trails that fork off of the main trail; the main trail will always be the larger trail.
Trail-head GPS Coordinates: 40.431512, -111.639367
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