The Alpine Loop is a summer must see

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Maddi Dayton
Mountains jut out against the clouds in Provo Canyon. The vivid and varied shades of green attract visitors from all over Utah Valley.

The Alpine Loop is a 20-mile route that winds through the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and down to Sundance. It can promise outdoor enthusiasts great hiking, mountain biking, adrenaline-pumping adventures and world-class scenery. Whether students have one hour or three days, the loop is a must see.

Visitors must pay a $6 entrance fee per car, which gives access to the Loop for three days. Here are the top activities not to be missed:

Hiking:

Mount Timpanogos is one of the most popular hikes in Northern Utah. The Aspen Grove Trail and the Timpooneke Trail will lead hikers to the top. Trails are about 13–14 miles long.

The Aspen Grove trailhead is accessed through Provo Canyon. It contains switchbacks and is steeper than the Timpooneke trail, but hikers will be rewarded with views of waterfalls, stunning cliffs and meadows of Alpine wildflowers.

Timpooneke Trail approaches the summit from the north side and is accessed through American Fork Canyon. While the trail is about a mile longer than the Aspen Grove trail, it is mostly wooded and contains fewer steep sections. Hikers can expect to see waterfalls, wildlife the majestic Giant Staircase and the scattered remains of a B-52 Bomber that crashed in 1955.

Hikers should start early in the morning and expect to hike all day. Some hikers prefer to escape the heat by hiking all night and reaching the summit in time for the sunrise.

Stewart Falls is another hike not to miss. The trail starts at Aspen Grove and is a 3.5-mile round trip that is enjoyable for families with children, a group of friends or an aspiring photographer. Stewart Falls is one of the most photogenic waterfalls in Northern Utah. It falls in two tiers and is more than 200 feet tall.

“I’ve hiked the falls a couple of times,” said Lorraine Parker, an international relations major at BYU. “It’s both a leisurely and family-friendly hike. I make sure to bring some food and have a picnic at the foot of the falls. It’s a great place to people-watch.”

Not a big hiker? Don’t worry. Cascade Springs is the perfect choice for an afternoon outing. Located in American Fork Canyon, Cascade Springs features a quarter-mile boardwalk, leading out a mountain spring filled with fish and aquatic plants. Hikers can set their own pace while wandering the boardwalk and can bring a picnic to enjoy along the way.

Mountain biking:

Some of the best biking in Utah can be found on the Alpine Loop. American Fork Canyon offers a range of mountain biking trails to fit any biker’s needs. There are three popular trails: Timpooneke Loop, Deer Creek South Fork and Tibble Fork via Pine Hollow Loop. These trails provide challenging terrain and breathtaking views of American Fork Canyon. Riders should be aware that moose and deer are present on these trails during the early morning hours.

Another option for mountain biking on the Alpine Loop is at Sundance Resort. Sundance offers 25+ miles of lift-serviced, single-track mountain biking trails that will challenge any type of rider. During the summer Sundance allows bikers lift access every day from 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Lift passes run from $17 to $23.

Activities:

Timpanogos Cave is a limestone cave decorated with many colors and types of helictites, anthodites and other formations. The hike up to the cave is 1.5 miles one way and quite strenuous, but benches are provided along the way to allow hikers a place to catch their breath. Cave tours are popular for all ages and often sell out in advance. Hikers are encouraged to buy their tickets beforehand and arrive 15 minutes before their scheduled tour begins. Also, hikers should bring water and a light jacket due to the lower temperatures in the cave. A cave tour is $8 for adults and $4 for children.

Stephanie Rhodes
The Lowder family hikes on a trail at Sundance Resort in Provo Canyon. Sundance offers several outdoor activities during the summer months.

Tibble Creek Reservoir has a little bit of everything: camping, biking, picnicking and kayaking. The reservoir is stocked with brown and rainbow trout, making it perfect for fishing opportunities. Because of its close proximity to the valley, Tibble Creek Reservoir is a popular place for families and groups of friends. It is located up American Fork Canyon.

Sundance Resort offers a full roster of summer activities. It recently opened an exhilarating zip line tour boasting more than 2,100 feet of vertical drop, the most of any zip line tour in the United States. The tour is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and prices range from $39 to $89 depending on the package purchased.

Full-moon lift rides are also available for those seeking adventures and/or romance. Riders should dress warmly, as temperatures become chilly at night. The full-moon lift rides are available July 2–3, July 31–Aug. 1, Aug. 28–29, and Sept. 24–26. Lift passes are $28 for two people.

From July 23–Aug. 15, Sundance will present “The Wizard of Oz” in its outdoor theater. The show will be held on Mondays Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and ticket prices range from $21 to $34. Guests can ride on the tractor trailer up to the outdoor theater, and discounts are given to those who follow the summer theater on social media.

“Sundance is magical,” said Mari Turner, programming manager and co-producer of the Sundance Summer Theatre. “It is a lot of fun to attend the summer theater and watch shows like ‘The Wizard of Oz’ come to life. It appeals to all ages and will make a great date night, family home evening night or a night out with friends.”

Scenery:

Just driving the Alpine Loop can give students a newfound love for nature. Towering mountains, green aspen trees and meadows of Alpine wildflowers await those willing to make the drive. There are many overlooks and places to turn off to take photos. Drivers should use caution and watch out for other cars, as the road is narrow and has many switchbacks. The Alpine Loop takes about 45 minutes to complete.

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