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Trib Trails: Fall colors make Primrose Overlook hike even more enchanting

Views of Mount Timpanogos, Heber City and Deer Creek Reservoir are the destination for this 3.1-mile hike, but the colorful journey leaves little to be desired

(Anthony L. Solis) The Horse Flat Trail leading to Primrose Overlook is mostly flat and full of fall color on Sept. 25, 2021.

Any time of year, the Primrose Overlook would be breathtaking. It oversees Primrose Canyon and offers glimpses of the top half of Stewart Falls. To the east, it’s possible to make out the towns of Heber City and Midway and it’s hard to miss Deer Creek Reservoir. The star, of course, is Mount Timpanogos and its close friend, Robert’s Horn, which reach majestically toward the sky.

Add in the vibrant yellows, oranges and reds of the surrounding trees welcoming in fall, however, and its beauty is taken to another level.

(Anthony L. Solis) Friends, from left, Ayse Turkmen of Turkey, Tim Milton and Sarah Lucas of Salt Lake City and Jiani Shi of China enjoy the Primrose Overlook. Its views Mount Timpanogos, Robert's Horn and Deer Creek Reservoir. The 3.1-mile out-and-back hike along Horse Flat Trail is mostly flat and full of fall color on Sept. 25, 2021.

The fall colors occur when the chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down and ceases to mask the carotenes and xanthophyll pigments, which produce the brilliant colors. And they can be seen from the start of the trail all the way to the overlook, which affords a view of entire hillsides popping with color.

This year, many of the aspen trees lining the trail remain green, so the color may last a few more weeks before winter’s wind leaves just a beautiful view, instead of a stunning one.

The hike: The trail to the Primrose Overlook is the Horse Flat Trail, also known as Trail 250. The trailhead entrance is the first one you come to after entering the roundabout and is shared with Trail 159. Keep to the left after entering the grove of trees and follow signs for the Horse Flat Trail. The trail climbs slightly at first and then flattens out, winding between groves of trees and open meadows.

(Anthony L. Solis) The Horse Flat Trail leading to Primrose Overlook is mostly flat and full of fall color on Sept. 25, 2021.

About a mile into the hike, after passing through a meadow where the Horse Flat and Horse Spring trails intersect, the path will begin to climb fairly steeply. Though not relentless, it will continue to climb for the next half mile, until you reach the overlook. After picnicking at the top, return the way you came. If you want to mix things up, take the Horse Springs Trail to the east at the meadow and follow it until it intersects with Lame Horse Trail (Trail 055). Turn left on the Lame Horse Trail and follow it back to the parking lot. This route will add about half a mile to your trip.

Getting there: Take I-15 to Thanksgiving Point, then take exit 283 for Thanksgiving Way. Turn left onto state Highway 92. Follow that 18.7 miles to the Summit Trailhead parking lot. Note: Entry for the Alpine Scenic Loop is $6 per car/day or $12 for a seven-day pass.

(Anthony L. Solis | Contributed) BYU students Ashley Johnson and Coleman Shuldberg enjoy the Primrose Overlook, which features views of Mount Timpanogos, Robert's Horn and Deer Creek Reservoir. The 3.1-mile out-and-back hike along Horse Flat Trail is mostly flat and full of fall color on Sept. 25, 2021.

Horse Flat Trail to Primrose Overlook

Region: Utah County/Alpine Scenic Loop

Destination: Mount Timpanogos and Heber Valley overlook

Distance: 3.1 miles

Time: 2 hours

Elevation Gain: 849 feet

Dogs/horses allowed: Yes

Restrooms: Yes

Biking: Yes

Difficulty: 2.5

(Anthony L. Solis) A mountain biker enjoys a colorful meadow ride near the start of the Horse Flat Trail, which leads to Primrose Overlook, on Sept. 25, 2021.

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