||Bonneville Shoreline Trail
North Provo Canyon Section
(Orem Bench and Dragon's Back)
This segment of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST) extends east from
the Orem Bench BST trailhead to Canyon Glen Park in Provo Canyon. It
includes 3.2 miles of improved dirt road and 1.3 miles of singletrack. It
won't be your favorite BST section, but it provides access to some great
riding in the north Provo Canyon (Orem Bench) area.
Mount Timpanogos from the trail.
Timpanogos is entirely formed of limestone of the Pennsylvanian Period
(320 million years ago) when Utah was covered by ocean. September 6, 1999 by
Bruce. Page updated July 2016.
|The BST trail is low altitude. That means it gets hot on
summer afternoons, but offers off-season riding. January and
February are only occasionally passable for standard bikes, but a fat-bike
rider will find the Orem Bench Road section good to ride all winter. The
Dragon's Back singletrack section, part of the Great Western Trail (GWT),
is hit-and-miss for fat biking.
Northbound just after passing the Cliff/Zorro
drop-off. That's Little Baldy ahead, with Timpanogos on the right.
||There is significant climbing on this route. Even the Orem
Bench Road portion has a stretch that's too steep for young children and
miserable for beginners. Once you get past the first 0.9 mile -- and its
400 vertical feet of climbing -- it's a flat and easy cruise for new
The Dragon's Back section is singletrack, starting at 5050 feet
elevation at Canyon Glen. Your climbing will be 500 vertical over 1.3
miles of intermediate-technical trail.
View down to
Canyon View Park. The Race Loop is downhill from us, just to the left of
|On the Orem end, the BST starts at 5150 feet elevation at
the trailhead just off 800 North. There's a bathroom here. Don't head
north on the obvious trail near the bathroom. That's the northbound
BST, and it's not the one you want.
Go back to
where your car turned into the paved parking area and find the singletrack
going southeast. It will take you to join the gravel road in 1/10th mile.
Settle into your climbing cadence and crank uphill for 0.9 miles.
Looking back at the conglomerate cliffs at the mouth
of Provo Canyon. These are formed of river deposits under prehistoric Lake
||After the initial climb, the doubletrack trail is flat and
plush as it contours the side canyons. You'll notice singletrack trails
branching away. If one of these is your destination, go ahead and hit the
dirt. Here are some connections:
Lazuli left at 0.8 miles, north to
Elk Crossing, Gopher Snake, Swift Ridge, Wild Turkey and Little Baldy near
Aquila (Cliff) right at 0.9 on doubletrack then left, connects to Race Loop
Zorro same DT but then R downhill, to Orem's 1560 east
Race Loop connector right at 1.45 descends to Race Loop
Rattlesnake left at 1.5, to Gopher Snake,
Elk Crossing, Altar, GWT, Mouse (key to uphill
Bee Line descender to Race Loop right at 1.55
Frank (GWT, 033) left at 2.9 climbs to Elk Crossing, Altar and Little Baldy
Nice fast cruising with some morning shade here.
When you reach a road fork at mile 3.2, don't proceed past the gate on the
level road (unless you're heading for Taj Mahal or the road's end on
Highway 189). Fork left downhill on the right-hand gravel road.
Go around the downhill gate, then watch
on the left for the Dragon's Back (GWT, forest trail 033) singletrack. The
singletrack is the continuing BST. PS, the doubletrack on the right descends to the Race Loop, if you're
Here's the gate you DO NOT go through. When you see
this, it's time to turn downhill to continue the BST.
||You'll quickly encounter a trail fork. Keep right for the
Dragon's Back. (The right fork descends rapidly then crosses the sink area
Johnson's Hole to rejoin trail 033.
Ah, here's the gate you want. Now find your
singletrack trail heading east (up canyon). My Rocky Mountain -- from the UMB
shop, of course -- is ready for a fun downhill!
|The Dragon's Back is a ridgeline with fabulous views of the
canyon and surrounding mountains. The trail downhill from the trail on
both sides are low scrub forest of gambel oak and bitterbrush. The trail
will invite you to fly down the mountain, but stop and appreciate the
pretty stuff at least once.
Here's a view of where you're going, shot from a bit
further down the road (wrong road for you -- I was headed for Taj Majal).
The Johnson's Hole trail is hard to see here, but it goes from bottom
right, crosses the sink area and reconnects at the leftmost arrow.
||As the trail flattens and crosses a long grassy area, the
Johnson's Hole trail will rejoin on your left. Now hug the mountainside as
you head east.
After the traverse, you'll start descending toward Canyon Glen. Here and there in cooler
spots, choke cherry,
elderberry, and maple are found. Follow
the ST down to the pipeline.
Turn right onto the pipeline, then 30 feet later, drop down the singletrack that forks off
on the left.
Jackie enjoys the ridgeline of Dragon's Back as we
climb uphill on September 6, 1999. Hard to believe I've been reviewing
bike trails that long!
|When you hit the paved Provo River Parkway trail, turn right
to go down-canyon about 200 feet, then cross the river to parking. Or,
head down the parkway to make a pavement loop -- 800 North will take you
to 800 East and to Cascade Drive. (Note that the climb up Cascade Drive to
the BST trailhead is hatefully steep on a bicycle!)
Two riders head toward Canyon Glen on the traversing
section of the Dragon's Back trail. The cliffs across the canyon are
Pennsylvanian limestone of the Oquirrh Formation. (Another photo from
Many riders use Dragon's Back as a climbing route to the Timpanogos
foothill area trails. Navigation is simple --
just take the uphill or westbound option.
After leaving the parkway uphill, take the first right turn to switch back. Arriving at
the pipe, go east 20 feet past it and find the trail that heads uphill to the west.
Immediately on top of the ridge, take the left fork in the trail (the right fork dead-ends
in the shallow valley on the other side of the ridge). When you reach double-track, turn
right, then turn left onto the Orem Bench Road when you reach the second gate.
View west from Dragon's Back.
Now go 0.3 miles east on the Orem Bench Road. Just after rounding a right turn
to the left, you'll see the continuing Trail 033 (Little Baldy Trail, just
called "Frank" by the locals) going uphill on your right. If your
objective is The Altar and the north Provo Canyon foothill trails, take it.
If your objective is the BST Orem Bench trailhead (or one of the alternate
singletracks in the area) just stay on the road and pedal. If you're riding the
BST out-and-back, you'll be at the trailhead with 9.2 miles total -- and 1000
Entry to Trail 033, in case that's where you're going.
||Getting there, Orem Bench BST Trailhead:
Exit I-15 on Orem's 800 North
and drive straight towards the mountains. At 800 East, turn left and drive north about 1
mile. Immediately past the fence at the uphill end of the cemetery, turn right (east) on Cascade Drive.
Drive 1/2 mile then fork uphill before you approach the water treatment plant.
Take two switchbacks up, passing the lower overflow parking, to the paved
parking area with the bathroom. Your trail is right across from where the
road entered the parking lot.
Glen: Use this trailhead if you plan to ride counter-clockwise or
out-and-back. Note that if you ride this direction there are some granny-gear
climbs that are a bit loose. Exit I-15 on Orem's 800 North and drive straight towards the mountains.
Keep left to enter Provo Canyon. About 3 miles later, you'll see the parking area for
Canyon Glen on your left. Go across the bridge to the Parkway. Turn right, and find the
GWT on your left about 200 feet later, forking uphill just before the paved
parkway curves around a rock outcrop.
Nunn's Park: This makes the ride about a mile
longer, but at the expense of a rather ugly short section of trail from Nunn's
park up to the aqueduct. Going up-canyon, turn right 4 miles up the canyon, then
left under 89. Go into Nunn's Park. On your bike, come back through the park
entrance, then turn left on a broken-up roadway just before the road goes under
89. Turn left at the fence and follow the fence uphill. This section is a
hike-a-bike uphill. Downhill, it's tricky because if you slide or bobble you're
going to hit the fence. As the singletrack reaches the top, go left
Canyon Mouth Provo River Parkway: There's a parking area on Orem's 800 North
Street just before you enter Provo canyon. It's just east of the gas station. GPS N 40°
18.840' W 111° 39.472'. To get to the parkway, go east over the river and through
the fence. To backtrack to the Orem Bench trailhead, head back west (away from the
mountains) to 800 East, then go to the Orem Trailhead as above.