Heading up Slide Canyon
Maple Mountain is located just south of the popular Y Mountain in the south Wasatch, north of Buckley Mountain, and west of Provo Peak. It's one of the last peaks I needed to climb to have reached the summit of all the mountains east of Provo.
One of reasons why I hadn't climbed this peak any sooner was due to the fact that there is no maintained trail to the summit, and I had already had my fair share of colossal bushwhacks this summer, and I saw no need to add to my total. I had already hiked to the top of Y Mountain twice in a span of a month because I made the mistake of not reaching the true summit on Y Mountain the first time. On my second trip to the top, the grasses, weeds, and stinging nettle was as tall as I was, but luckily there was a trail. Not so much for the Maple Mountain trek, so I wanted to wait until the first snow killed off the underbrush on Maple, then I'd give it a go.
The other reason I hadn't hiked it is because I really do not enjoy hiking to the Y, and I'd already done that four times this summer, yet the best way of reaching Maple Mountain is via the trail that veers from the top of the Y up Slide Canyon, aptly known as Slide Canyon Trail.
I'd been sizing up this hike for a while. I had a birds eye view of the route I wanted to take up to Maple Mountain when I hiked Lion Head back in August. I even spotted the old road that was mentioned on the Maple Mountain page, and determined that I was going to try and find the road.
I left the parking lot to the Y at 1pm and quickly made it up the hideous switchbacks. OK, they weren't that bad, it's just not that pretty of a hike until you pass the Y. Then the trail feels much more like a real trail. I only saw four people past the Y, and it was great! The maples were still changing and were fire engine red. I'd gone past Bear Flat a couple of times this summer and never spotted the trail that went to Maple Flat, but now that the grass was brown and short, I finally spotted it, although that would not be the route I would take. After about an hour of hiking from the parking lot, I made it to where the trail to the top of Y Mountain leaves the Slide Canyon Trail. I continued straight on the trail for about another .75 miles. I got out my GPS to try and determine where this old road was, when I came to a meadow, Apache Flat, I knew the road was to the south of the meadow and sure enough, as clear as day I spotted it. The last 20 minutes of hiking had been done in about an inch of snow, and the snow did an amazing job of exposing the road, which would be a struggle to find in the late spring or summer.
The view of the old road found in the southwest corner of Apache Flat from the Slide Canyon Trail. Follow this road until it ends, and then begin route finding to the summit of Maple Mountain. The old road heading west. There's a trail in the middle of the 'road.' The road will head south and slowly peter out at the start of the treeline. A faint game trail is visible for the first hundred feet and then one must routefind up the ridge.
Routefinding to the Summit
The hike along the old road was not only pleasant, but somewhat surreal, in the sense that it was mildly bizarre that there was clearly a road in the middle of a forest. Very cool if you ask me. The old road headed west for the better part of a quarter of a mile and then made a sharp turn to the left heading due south. This part of the road was free of snow as it had seen plenty of sunshine in the days leading up to my hike. About 200 yards after the road turned south the trail and road pretty much ends at a stand of aspen.
Looking down through the aspens that I had come up from the road.
Walking through the aspens may have been the highlight of the hike. It was very peaceful and the colors were spectacular. Finding the ridge didn't end up being a problem. The aspens slowly gave way to conifers and the snow began to get up to three inches or so in some places, but it was very crunchy and I found myself walking on top of it for the most part. After about an hour of making my way up the ridge, I emerged out of the conifers and had an easy ridge walk to the summit. The views were great, especially those to the east, which gave a good vantage point to view Provo Peak, Freedom Peak, Shingle Mill Peak, and Cascade, and an excellent view of Buckley Mountain as well. It ended up taking exactly two hours from the parking lot to the summit, and about an hour and twenty minutes back. It was a nice peak to knock out, and the solitude on the peak was something that you won't find on some other peaks. I would also highly recommend going during the fall or winter, as the underbrush will be dead or covered by the snow.
View from Maple Mountain. From left to right, Shingle Mill Peak, Freedom Peak, and Provo Peak.