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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm heading up to Spanish Fork this weekend and would like to try some of the trails out. Would the three forks loop or the fifth water ridge trail be open? I have never ridden in the area. Are these trails worth doing?

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I ended up riding the cottonwood creek trail out and back in spanish fork canyon. Awesome trail, 100% clear. I was very shocked at how much flow the trail had. Natural berms and corners all over the place. I would check out Spanish Fork canyon for early season riding.
 

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rpalmer
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I'm surprised to hear it was clear already. Muddy at all? Did you have any trouble crossing the creek? And did you get all the way up to the paved road above the waterfall? Sorry, lots of questions but I have always considered that area to be not rideable until June, for high water if not for snow/mud cover. I've seen the creek running so high at this time of year that crossing would have been very dangerous. It's a great place to ride though. It's a totally different experience to ride on a trail that was built for sheep herding rather than a mountain bike. I really like it. Next time you are in the area, ride up Cottonwood and then ride north on the road a couple miles to 5th Water for a great downhill. Of if you want a tough but rewarding option, cross the road and continue up to Strawberry Ridge, ride the Ridge north, and drop down 5th Water from there. Long and tough, but fun.
 

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I'm also surprised that this trail is rideable. I've always avoided it until mid summer, but that was based on speculation. I have the same questions about mud and water levels as rpalmer. I'm also surprised you described it as burmy. I usually ride this up to Strawberry Ridge, it's up past the road were the trail is called 2nd water that this trail really get good and has more "flow", but I can't imagine it was rideable up that far. Report back. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The conditions were fantastic when I rode it. One or two dusty spots where there was lots of sun exposure or where the motos had hit the throttle. Most of it was perfect with a little moisture in the dirt for grip. When I got closer to the road (about 4.5 miles up the cottonwood creek trail) I saw one or two patches of snow off trail below some trees in the shade. I did all of the creek crossings on my bike. The deepest was maybe a foot deep. I ran out of time so I didn't go all the way to the road. I got to a point where the trail turns left at a small creek crossing and gets steep and loose. I believe that you have to cross the creek and keep going straight on the double track to get to the paved road. I would love to explore more. It was the best April riding I have had up in Utah so far. I plan to explore more the next time I am up. Id like to check out the fifth water trail and the stuff higher up. Coming from Las Vegas I love riding in higher terrain. My go to is typically tibble fork or mudd springs in AF Canyon.

I thought the cottonwood creek trail had great flow to it. Carvy is probably a better word. No real berms but lots of turns had good little natural lips on them that held well. Keep in mind that I typically ride in the desert with really loose corners. Coming down hill I felt like I was constantly coming around a turn or a corner and laying the bike over with pretty good speed and plenty of grip. I was pleasantly surprise with the small amount I did. About 5 miles up and 5 miles back.
 

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rpalmer
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Thanks for the ride report. I live in Salt Lake Valley, but I'm more than happy to drive all the way down there for that ride. It's fun and the descent on either trail (Cottonwood or 5th Water) is really good and flowy. 5th Water you'll find is pretty steep and rocky at the top, but it widens and improves as you get lower. You should check out the Deer Creek/South Fork loop in AF Canyon if you're up there often. Also the Timpooneke Loop. There are writeups on Utahmountainbiking.com. I like those better than the trails around Tibble Fork, but that's just me. Also, up Payson Canyon there are great sections of Blackhawk Trail and Bennie Creek that are really fun, and right up your alley if you enjoyed the trails up Spanish Fork Canyon. Check em out when they are dry, probably won't be until mid-June.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have ridden the black hawk trail and the Bennie creek dh once and had a good time. I've done deer creek south fork a handful of times as well. There's something about the trails in af canyon that keep me coming back...everything has been real fun. I'll be back for memorial day visiting friends in Spanish fork and plan to do some more exploring in Spanish fork canyon. What's the terrain like on the center trail or up higher by strawberry ridge?
 

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5 miles up should get you to the road. The steep loose trail to the left will take you to the road, this is my proffered route, it's challenging, yet rideable. If you cross the creek to the right there is a small dirt clearing and a dirt road, both routes will take you to Ray Valley road. I've only gone the dirt road route once and it's quite a bit easier. The best part comes after you cross the road.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Oh ok... Well I went up he left steep route a shot ways until I came to this really cool rocky ledge section. It looked like it would be challenging to go down and someonehing that I would have to hike a bike up. While I was scoping it out 3 motos came up and were trying to get up it trials style...I had to get going and was sick of their fumes so I turned around and went back down.
 

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It's not too hard to come down, but getting up it is extremely difficult. Partly because you are completely out of steam by the time you get to it, but most also because it's super technical and ledgy. It's not so bad once you get past that spot.
 

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Any update on these trails? I'm thinking of riding the slightly higher ones this weekend, upper fifth water and center trail. Are they good to go? Elevation looks like about 6900'-8400'
 

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I suggest starting from the bottom, just in case riding gets too muddy near the top. My guess is that there will still be areas of mud. What part of center trail are you planning on riding, to the left of 5th or to the right of 5th?
 

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to the left, basically starting at the 5th water TH, going up 5th, then clockwise at the fork, so up center, across the road, then all the way back down 5th to the TH. It seems this is one of the preferred rides around here, just worried about mud/snow. If it is too wet, it sounds like cottonwood and lower 5th are ready to go.
 

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rpalmer
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Any update on these trails? I'm thinking of riding the slightly higher ones this weekend, upper fifth water and center trail. Are they good to go? Elevation looks like about 6900'-8400'
Strawberry Ridge sits at above 9000 feet. I drove past Strawberry Reservoir a couple of days ago and the eastern slopes are still pretty buried in snow. The west-facing slopes and canyons you would climb up to get there are shaded and forested. I have very little doubt that you would hit snowdrifts and lots and lots of mud. I wouldn't go to the upper trails until mid-June at the earliest.
 

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Strawberry Ridge sits at above 9000 feet. I drove past Strawberry Reservoir a couple of days ago and the eastern slopes are still pretty buried in snow. The west-facing slopes and canyons you would climb up to get there are shaded and forested. I have very little doubt that you would hit snowdrifts and lots and lots of mud. I wouldn't go to the upper trails until mid-June at the earliest.
Wanted to provide an update :
You were spot on, while a decent amount of the trail was dry, there were many mud spots and even snow on the trail. A dirtbike track down the middle of sections has created a stream running right through the trail as snow melts. My guess is the trail still needs a good 3 weeks or more. Also with the creek running so high, there are many high water creek crossings to deal with. Ride the lower stuff (~7300 ft and below), it's all ready to go.
 

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Thanks for the report. I've never attempted the upper trail until summer, I guess that was wise. Would it be safe to assume that this trail is good to go about the same time that people report the crest is good to go?
 

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Clockwise, or clockwise, it doesn't matter if you are doing the lolipop, they are both good routes. However, if you are coming down lower 5th water be careful and courteous to the plethora of hippies headed up to the hot springs. Or, choose a time of the day and day of the week that won't see as much traffic.

Keep that in mind for when the trail dries.
 

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rpalmer
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Thanks for the report. I've never attempted the upper trail until summer, I guess that was wise. Would it be safe to assume that this trail is good to go about the same time that people report the crest is good to go?
Yeah, that would be about right. The Ridge isn't as high as Wasatch Crest, but it's less exposed because of all the trees and water crossings. Also, the horses and dirtbikes make a mess out of the trail while it's muddy, so even when it's dry it can be a pain to ride before it gets packed back down. In good conditions, though, those upper trails are a lot of fun. I'll be down there in July, probably.
 
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