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Mt. Timpanogos is one of the most popular hikes in all of Utah. It’s a long and strenuous hike with the peak sitting at 11,749 feet, making it the second-highest mountain in the Wasatch Mountains.
With close proximity to Salt Lake City, beautiful wildflowers, wildlife sightings, and incredible views, it’s no wonder this is a well-traveled trail.
In this hiking guide we’ll cover:
- Mt. Timpanogos trailhead info
- The best time of year to hike
- Trail details and tips on what to expect
- Hazards and challenges along the way
Mt. Timpanogos Hike Quick Facts
- Length (roundtrip): about 14.5 miles from the Timpooneke trailhead or about 13.5 miles from Aspen Grove trailhead
- Average Time: 6-10 hours (it took me 8)
- Elevation Gain: about 4,300 feet elevation gain if starting from the Timpooneke trailhead and about 4,800 feet elevation gain if starting from the Aspen Grove trailhead
- Difficulty: Strenuous
- Permits: There is a $6 fee as you enter the canyon. America the Beautiful Interagency Recreation Passes (a yearly national parks pass), is honored.
Mt. Timpanogos Hike Trailheads
There are two ways to get to Mt. Timpanogos. Both trailhead are located in American Fork Canyon.
On both trails you’ll pass waterfalls and wildflowers. Moose and mountain goats sighting are also common!
The Timpooneke trail seems to be the more popular option.
If you have two vehicles, it’s also possible to hike up one trail and hike down the other!
1) Timpooneke Trailhead
The Timpooneke trailhead is located at the Timpooneke campground along Alpine Loop Road (UT 92).
You’ll see signs for the campground. Once you turn onto Timpooneke Road and start driving towards the campground, you’ll see signs for the Timpooneke Trailhead on your left. There is a vault toilet at the trailhead.
There are a lot of parking spots, but they fill up really quickly, especially on the weekends.
We arrived around 5 am on a weekday, and three-quarters of the parking lot was already full.
The trail is well marked and maintained, but it’s still important to carry a map and compass or a GPS.
There are a few forks in the trail and I had to refer to my GPS a couple of times to confirm we were going the right way.
In the Summer, water is available along the trail for roughly the first 2 miles, but it needs to be filtered to make it safe to drink.
2) Aspen Grove Trailhead
The Aspen Grove Trailhead is located along the Alpine Lake Loop Road (UT 92) about 1 hour from Salt Lake City.
You’ll find parking and a vault toilet. Parking fills up quickly!
If you choose to hike this trail, you’ll pass Emerald Lake and meet up with the Timpooneke Trail at the Timpanogos saddle.
The trail is well marked and maintained, but it’s still important to carry a map and compass, or a GPS.
Water at Emerald Lake is a reliable water source, but it needs to be filtered to make it safe to drink.
Check Current Trail Conditions:
It’s always a good idea to check current trail conditions before your hike because things change from season to season and year to year.
The Pleasant Grove Ranger District is a good source for trail information.
Best Time of Year to Hike Mt. Timpanogos
One of my favorite parts of this hike was the wildflowers!
The wildflowers on this hike were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Seriously, they were incredible.
There were so many different kinds of flowers in all different colors.
The wildflowers are not year-round, so if you want to see them, the end of July and early August are typically the best times.
The temperature is very hot during the Summer and this hike is exposed, meaning that there’s not much shade along the way.
Depending on the amount of snowfall during the winter months, there still might be snow on the trail in June.
I think the best time to hike Mt. Timpanogos is the end of June through September, depending on snowfall.
NOTE: The temperatures in the graph below are for the peak, which will be colder than trailhead temperatures.
On the weekends, this hike is crowded. As I mentioned, this is one of the most popular hikes in all of Utah.
If you have the flexibility in your schedule, hiking on a weekday will be a little less crowded.
Trail Details and What to Expect
I see a lot of people out hiking who don’t seem to be prepared for the length and elevation gain on this hike.
This is not an easy hike. Not only is it long, but there’s also a considerable amount of elevation gain no matter what trailhead you start at.
In addition, the peak is over 11,000 feet high. You’ll likely feel more tired and out of breath than usual as you get closer to the top.
Make sure you start early enough so that you have time to get up and down.
This trail starts to get really interesting when you reach the Timpanogos saddle, which is also where both of the trails meet.
No matter which trailhead you start at, you’ll reach the saddle where you’ll see the first view of the valley on the other side with the city and Utah Lake.
This is a great place to stop and have a quick snack before starting the final climb to the top.
The rest of the hike is uphill on loose rocks.
It looks a lot scarier than it actually is. I don’t like heights that much, and I felt fine on the trail the entire time.
During this section, it’s also hard to find the trail at times, although you can usually see the top, so you know where you’re trying to go!
At one point we missed the trail as it went up. Instead, we went straight. We ended up on a mountainside and quickly realized we were going the wrong way!
As I said, the trail looks a lot more intimidating than it actually is.
The top is a small area with a little white hut covered in graffiti. I actually wish the hut wasn’t there because it looks really out of place among the beautiful 360° nature views.
Hazards and Challenges on the Hike
Altitude sickness is caused by rapid exposure to low amounts of oxygen at high elevation. In other words, when you go to high altitudes without giving the body time to adjust to the changes in air pressure and oxygen level.
Typical symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and lightheadedness. It’s a good idea to watch for these symptoms.
If you’re experiencing altitude sickness, hike down.
Take thunderstorms seriously. Most of this hike is very exposed and if lightning rolls through, there won’t be anywhere to take cover.
In addition, once you reach the saddle, you start the final rocky ascent to the top, all on an exposed ridgeline. Again, this is not a good place to be in a thunderstorm.
This is a long hike. You’ll need a lot of water. I completely filled my reservoir with 2 liters of water.
In addition, I brought my Sawyer Squeeze water filter system (highly recommend) so I had a way to get more water on the trail as needed.
The water availability will depend on the time of year and the trailhead that you use.
In the Summer months, the Timpooneke trail has water on the first couple of miles as you cross a waterfall. After that, it can be pretty dry depending on the year.
The Aspen Grove Trail passes along Emerald Lake which is a reliable water source.
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On a hot sunny day, you’ll need more than 2 liters of water. It’s important to think ahead about how and where you’re going to get more safe drinking water on the trail, or at least carry more water from the start.
Staying hydrated is crucial.
Underprepared for Hike Duration
As I mentioned several times, be prepared for a long hike.
Many people I saw hiking up did not have backpacks or appropriate clothing for the hike.
Water is limited on the trail and you’ll need a lot of it.
Do you have enough snacks for the entire hike? Do you have extra clothing in case it gets cold or starts raining?
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Do you have the 10 essentials?
Being prepared for the hike is important. Not just your gear, but also mentally.
Overall, being prepared is key.
I would rather you say at the end of the hike that it wasn’t as hard as you were expecting, as opposed to being totally shocked by how long and hard the hike is.
Prepare yourself mentally, physically, and with the right gear for a long day in the mountains. The views are worth it!
Here’s a sort video from my hike:
If you have any questions, ask me in the comments below.