Trib Trails, waterfall collection: Mount Timpanogos Falls hike stretches the legs, imagination

More than just a pitstop along the Alpine Loop Scenic Drive, it’s suitable for kids but can accommodate those looking for a challenge

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The start of the trail to lower falls along the Mount Timpanogos trail head starting at the Aspen Grove parking lot on Wednesday, May 19, 2021.

As a special Memorial Day Weekend treat, Trib Trails is bringing you a trio of hikes we’re calling our Waterfall Collection. We suggest you start with this hike to the falls along the Mount Timpanogos Trail. Follow that up with Thursday’s featured hike, the considerably more strenuous hike to Fisher Flat, which passes by the 50-foot tall Battle Creek Falls. And finally, treat yourself to the easily reached but still stunning Lisa Falls, a 0.3-mile round-trip route that will be featured Friday. Happy hiking!

A scenic drive deserves a scenic hike. It should not just be a dusty stretch where car-weary visitors can stretch their legs and breathe non-recirculated air. It should be a place where they can feel like they’ve been absorbed into the natural beauty they’ve been straining their necks to gawk at from the other side of the car window for at least the past 40 minutes.

The 2.4-mile round-trip route from Aspen Grove to Mount Timpanogos Falls meets all those requirements and more.

The welcoming kid- and dog-friendly path at first leads hikers into the cool shade and refreshing fragrance of a pine forest. When it emerges, it transforms into a mostly paved trail with vistas of Mount Timp and Robert’s Horn. Along the consistent but manageable climb to the falls, look for bluebells, wild strawberries and cute, yellow creeping barberry. Also keep an eye out for snakes, chipmunks and moose.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Wildflowers speckle the landscape along the Mount Timpanogos trail to lower falls on Wednesday, May 19, 2021.

The hike: This fairly straightforward path begins from the Aspen Grove parking lot on the Mount Timpanogos (not Stewart Falls) trail and quickly enters the shade of pine and aspen. It’s soft ground at first but becomes rocky as it leaves the shade and Robert’s Horn enters the picture. After 0.4 miles, the trail intersects with the Lame Horse Trail. Stay to the left and pass by the wooden Mount Timpanogos Wilderness sign. The trail is mostly paved here and before long the white ribbon of the waterfall comes into view. The lower falls are 1 mile from the trailhead. The upper falls are another 0.25 miles up and worth the climb. The trail becomes more rugged after that and stretches up another 4 miles to Emerald Lake and 6 miles to the summit of Mount Timpanogos. When you tire of climbing, turn around and return the way you came.

Getting there: Take I-15 to Orem, then take exit 272 toward Utah 52/U.S. 189/800 N. After 3.7 miles, turn left onto highway 189. In 4.8 miles, turn left onto highway 92 and follow signs to Sundance Resort. Past the resort, there is a toll booth. Entry is $6 per car/day or $12 for a seven-day pass. The Aspen Grove parking lot is immediately on the left after the booth. Note that the Alpine Scenic Loop Drive is closed for road construction just beyond Aspen Grove until July 4 .

Region: Utah County

Destination: Waterfall

Distance: 2.4 miles

Time: 1 ¼ hour

Elevation Gain: 712 feet

Dog Allowed: Yes, on leash

Restrooms: Yes

Biking: No

Difficulty: 2