This route describes a hike to the top of Mill Canyon Peak
that can be done in all seasons, but fall and winter are particularly nice. The hike starts at Tibble Fork Reservoir in American Fork Canyon. It is about 7 miles one way to the summit. The first 3 are spent climbing up to the southwest ridge of Mill Canyon Peak via the Tibble Fork Trail (#041). There are several open meadows along the way and nice views of the south side of Little Cottonwood Ridge will be visible.
Little Cottonwood Ridge
Once the ridge is reached, there are stunning views of peaks in all directions as you travel 4 miles NE along the Ridge Trail (#157) to the summit.
View south from the Ridge Trail
The five major peaks most prominently visible are Mount Timpanogos
, Box Elder Peak
, White Baldy
, Red Baldy
, and American Fork Twin Peaks
Mount Timpanogos (11749)
Box Elder Peak (11101)
White Baldy (11321)
Red Baldy (11171)
American Fork Twin Peaks (11489)
This is a very mellow hike as far as terrain goes, but it is a long way with a significant vertical gain.
Mill Canyon Peak Elevation:10349'
One way miles:7
Round Trip elevation gain:5000'
Time needed:9-10 hours round trip in the winter
The trailhead is located in American Fork Canyon within an hour's drive from two major metropolitan centers, Salt Lake City and Provo. See the directions for the Tibble Fork Reservoir Trailhead in the Getting There
section for the Mill Canyon Peak page.
Tibble Fork Route
Note that the Tibble Fork Trail is not shown accurately on the USGS map. The red line on the map below accurately shows the path of the trail. The Ridge Trail does seem to be shown fairly accurately though.
Tibble Fork Route map
Locations described in the route are denoted with labels that are found on the topo map.
The route starts at the Tibble Fork Reservoir [A]. Walk across the bridge and at the far side you will see a sign for the Tibble Fork Trail (#041). The sign claims it is 2 miles to the Ridge Trail, but it is really 3. The trail starts out steeply ascending through scrub oak, but quickly eases up as it contours the hillside above Tibble Fork. Be sure to look behind you to see views of Box Elder Peak (11101).
Box Elder Peak
At .9 miles the trail drops slightly and you should make a hard right to cross the creek. A short distance farther, you will come to the intersection [B] of the trail that leads to some summer homes. Continue left on the Tibble Fork Trail. Now that you have left the sunny north side of Tibble Fork, the vegetation changes from scrub oak to a mix of maple, aspens, and fir.
At 1.3 miles you will come to an open meadow [C]. Looking across it to the northeast, you will see your first views of Mill Canyon Peak. It is the peak on the right. The peak on the left is unnamed 9851 ).
9851 and Mill Canyon Peak (10349)
To the northwest, you will get outstanding views of the south side of the Little Cottonwood Ridge.
Little Cottonwood Ridge
At 1.7 miles you will come to another trail junction [D]. Left will take you to the Mill Canyon Trail (#040). Right will take you to Mud Spring. You want to continue straight on the Tibble Fork Trail (#041).
View of White Baldy along the trail
Beaver lodge Mill Canyon Peak
At 1.9 miles you will come to a filled in beaver pond [E]. In the summer you can even see the long since abandoned beaver lodge. Pass this area on the right. Looking across it you can see peak 9851 and Mill Canyon Peak through the trees as well as more nice views of the Little Cottonwood Ridge.
Looking across pond at Little Cottonwood Ridge
The trail after the beaver pond
After the beaver pond the trail becomes pretty densely forested. At 2.8 miles you reach the first of 2 closely spaced switchbacks [F]. It is only a short distance from here to the top of the ridge.
At 3 miles you will finally reach the SW ridge of Mill Canyon Peak at a 4 way intersection with the Ridge Trail (#157) and the South Fork Little Deer Creek Trail (#252) [G]. You want to take the Ridge Trail left, in the northeast direction. For the next 2.1 miles you will go up and down a series of bumps, maintaining an elevation between 8100' and 8300'. In the summer the trail contours to the NW of the first two bumps. In the winter, it is best to go right over them.
Shortly after cresting the first bump at 3.2 miles [H], you will get a view of Mill Canyon Peak lying straight ahead,
Mill Canyon Peak
as well as another outstanding view of the south side of the Little Cottonwood Ridge.
Little Cottonwood Ridge
At 3.6 miles a small hill is reached [I] and the ridge starts bending to the east. Look behind you to see Mount Timpanogos.
The Ridge Trail
Ahead lies a broad ridge forested with widely spaced aspens.
Mill Canyon Peak
At 4.55 miles you will come to the top of bump 8356 [J] and if you are tired of breaking trail, relief is in sight since usually you will pick up a snowmobile track here. A nice view of Mill Canyon Peak is had as you descend this bump.
At 5 miles [K], if you walk off the trail about 100 feet left/west to N40 28.359 W111 35.357, you will see this rudimentary tepee, perhaps constructed by some zealous boy scout troop.
The big intersection
At 5.1 miles you reach a big intersection [L]. The route from the corral comes in on the right/southeast and the Mill Canyon route comes in on the left/west. There is a large signboard with a good map showing all of the trails in the area.
In the summer, take the Ridge Trail (#157) in a generally NE direction about 1.2 miles until about 9240 feet near the beginning of a long traverse across Mill Canyon Peak's western slopes [M]. Route find across a sage brushy slope about .1 miles east to the top of a ridge. Follow the ridge generally north to the summit about .7 miles.
Looking at the summit from bump 8881
In the winter, from the intersection proceed NNE to the top of bump 8881 [N] which you can skirt to the southeast if you like. The snowmobile tracks will disappear in this area and you are on your own again. Descend about 100 feet to a small saddle at 5.8 miles at about 8780' [O]. Finally, there are no more bumps and it is a steady 1600 foot climb and 1.2 miles to the top.
A wind blown area covered with sage brush is reached at 6.1 miles [P]. A dilapidated fence is reached at 6.2 miles [Q] with a mix of pillowy soft and wind blown snow.
Fence is at the left
At 6.4 miles [R] the SW ridge and the SE ridge meet and the skeletons of some dead windblown trees are found.
Almost at the top of the ridge
The false summit lies ahead Looking back at the false summit
Finally, you are on the main south ridge of Mill Canyon Peak which you simply follow to the summit. At 6.75 miles you will go over a small false summit with a small cairn. At 7.0 miles at the summit [S] you will find a large cairn with a stick protruding and great views in all directions.
Some sections of the Tibble Fork Trail may not be obvious in the winter, so here are some additional waypoints to get you on the right track. The trees are dense enough that it pays to stick to the trail. Once you hit the ridge trail, the trees are either very widely spaced or the route is obvious.
N40 28.204 W111 37.852
N40 28.184 W111 37.658
N40 28.170 W111 37.628
N40 28.018 W111 37.401
N40 27.935 W111 37.280
N40 27.856 W111 37.214
There is a fee to access American Fork Canyon. A booth is located near the entrance to the canyon and if it is open you can pay there. If not, you need to find a self-pay tube along the road. Currently, it costs $6 for a 3 day pass, $12 for a 7 day pass, and $45 for an annual pass. Interagency annual (America the Beautiful), senior, and access passes are honored. Before you spring $45 for an annual pass, consider that the America the Beautiful pass is only $80 and is good locally for the Mirror Lake Highway as well as all national parks.
There are signs stating that a permit is required for overnight camping and may be obtained at the Pleasant Grove Ranger Office (801)785-3563.
Nothing special is needed in the summer. In the winter, insulated hiking boots, snowshoes, and trekking poles are needed.