There are times when one just can't climb a peak due to time limitations but yet the itch to get out and do something is really strong and dominating. As much as I would have liked to have chased after some of the neat peaks in the area, I just didn't have the time so I looked for something else I could do with the little 4 hour window of time that I had. Thumbing through Mike Kelsey's book, "Utah Mountaineering", I came up with the perfect solution, I would hike the Battle Creek Trail that led up to the start of the Everest Ridge. Well, I didn't quite find the the Battle Creek TH but what I did find was a delight and here's the rest of the story:
I did the thing I always seem to do when I am in too much of a hurry to get somewhere, I had left my driving instructions at my daughter's place in Pleasant Grove. However, since it seemed logical that one of the nearby streets would lead up to where I wanted to go, I didn't take the time to turn around and go back after Kelsey's book. I was confident that it wouldn't be too hard to find the Battle Creek TH if I just drove the roads up on the west side of Mt. Timpanogos.
I headed up 1100 N and figured I could cut over to 200 N to get to the Battle Creek TH so that was the plan I was following. Well, 1100 N. hit Mahogany Lane and Mahogany Lane hit Grove Creek ave. but fortunately Grove Creek ave. deadended at a parking area, complete with a forest service type outhouse and trail sign. I had not found the Battle Creek TH, I had found the Grove Creek TH. There were several cars in the parking area and this was a wednesday, hmmmm. I had screwed up in my directions but the result turned out to be a winner. (The easiest way to find the TH is to take 100 E from State Street, turn right on 500 N and then drive 1.4 miles up to the TH. Note that 500 N. becomes Grove Creek Rd as you drive up it. The TH is paved and has one of the newer type FS vault toilets.
I grabbed my daypack and headed out, making nice progress as the old jeep road that had become the trail headed up into the canyon and soon a fork was reached where a trail went uphill and the old jeep road went to the right and obviously ended at the creek. The trail went right to work and climbed steeply and steadily until it came to a fence line where it leveled off and began a more gradual grade with a switchback or two as it made its way up the canyon. Snow was present on the north facing aspects of the canyon but the south side, where the trail was, was totally dry. I met a woman coming down and we stopped and chatted for a few minutes and she mentioned that Grove Creek went up to the Timpooneke dirt road and that you could make a loop hike back down to the Battle Creek trailhead if you had transportation at that end. The sign at the fence line had said it was 3 miles to the Timpooneke road so I figured the loop would probably be in the 7 to 8 mile range.
The only other person I saw on the trail was a runner who had gone up to the falls and then turned around and headed back down with his two dogs. The dogs just flew on by me and I wondered about whether this guy ran the two sketchy areas where the trail wasn't much more than an indentation on the side of the hill where it was obvious that rock slides had taken its toll on where the trail would be.
I crossed one flowing stream about the mile and a half mark and found some snow remnants still remaining on the trail as it worked its way up towards my destination, the waterfalls and overlook that had a bench placed in honor of a person who had lived from 1956 to 2002. Taking a break at the bench and having a snack, I soon continued on up the trail to where it crossed a small bridge to the north side of the canyon and continued up into lingering snow. The snow got deep quickly and I began to realize that my footgear was less than ideal so rather than make it all the way to the Timpooneke road, I turned around and headed back down.
I will go back and do the loop as well as climb to the top of Baldy, then North Peak and eventually, up the Everest ridge to the summit itself. Mt. Timpanogos has so many ways to go and Grove Creek is just one of the little tidbits that can make a nice conditioner when snow conditions make backcountry travel hazardous. I will be back since visiting my daughter and grandkids is always a good thing to do. (and sneak out to climb Timp whenever the opportunity presents itself)
Time spent: 2 hours / 4 1/2 miles Elevation gain 2000 feet to turnaround point. Elevation gain from TH to Timpooneke road is 2600 feet. BTW, I did find the Battle Creek TH after my Grove Creek hike, I just couldn't return without finding it.
2008 UpdateThree times this year I have been on this trail but the previous were for either climbing Mahogany Mtn or pure conditioning. Once I got stopped by snow on a precarious section and I wisely elected to turn around and come back another day.
On June 9th, it was time to return and this time I not only hiked well up into Sagebrush flats, I took another trail and went all the way to G Mountain for a round trip of 10 miles. The area was beautiful, green meadows and trees, snowcapped peaks and no mosquitos. A great combination. I saw two others, one who passed me early on in my hike and another guy who was resting at the Indian Campground near Grove Creek Springs. Another hike I'd like to do is go up Dry Canyon, up the south ridge of Big Baldy, cross to Baldy Saddle and make my way back down via Grove Creek Canyon Trail. Yes, that would be a nice combo. My hike yesterday was almost ten miles and over 3000 feet of elevation gain (you lose and then regain elevation dropping over to G Mountain). I spent 5 hours on my hike, not all of it hiking. I had a chance to savor a special day. I can't wait to do it again.