The Big Cottonwood Canyon Midway Loop

One of the things that is nice about living in the Salt Lake Valley is the beautiful riding that is literally only a few minutes away. I live about 10 or 15 minutes from the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon and the opportunity to blast up a narrow canyon road through pine trees and quaking aspen. The temps are at least 10 degrees cooler at the top which makes it a favorite escape for an hour or two on a summer evening.

Today though, my plans were to add a few miles to my normal Big Cottonwood routine.

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I turned off the canyon road just before Brighton for the climb up to Guardsman Pass. The view of the canyon is beautiful from the side of the road and only about 20 or 30 minutes from home. If this road were a hundred miles away, rather than at our doorstep, we would probably ride up here a lot more often.

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My plan for the afternoon was to drop down off Guardsman Pass into Midway and the Heber Valley. From there head toward Provo Canyon and home.

The approach to the pass is nice pavement, but it's a little rough over the top as you drop down over the pass. Once you hit the Park City turnoff, the road improves for the rest of the way into Midway. 

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The view from the top of Guardsman Pass is beautiful and the pass down into Midway is a quiet winding road through the pines with the occasional cabin nestled in the trees. You'll want to keep your speed under control as you drop down into Heber Valley on the steep and narrow road.

Midway is a sleepy little town originally founded by Swiss immigrants and their architectural influence can be seen all over town in the public buildings, hotels, and inns. Sue and I occasionally stay in Midway when we want to have a weekend getaway, but don't want to spend several hours on the road.

Leaving Midway headed to Orem via Provo Canyon, you'll pass by Deer Creek Reservoir and can watch the water-skiers and sail boarders on this beautiful reservoir.

I have to admit, next to a canyon road and a mountain pass, I enjoy riding through the rural landscape. And, it's absolutely beautiful in this area.

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I never had the opportunity to ride through Provo Canyon before they widened the road. As a kid I remember it as a much narrower road that followed the Blue Ribbon trout stream down the canyon (a great place to cast a fly, by the way). My parents avoided it in favor of the much wider Hwy 40 and I-15. They were really happy when the widened version of the highway was done. I realize it would be very impractical today with the amount of traffic that runs between the Heber area and Provo, but I can't help but think it would have been an incredible road for a motorcycle. Fortunately, it's still a pretty ride—although there is a lot of traffic pushing through the canyon.

Once in Orem, I hugged the east bench of the mountains and climbed over Suncrest before dropping down into the Salt Lake Valley and home. This short loop was only about 2-1/2 or 3 hours—and with the exception of the traffic and congestion in Utah County (which always seems to be pretty heavy), was a nice relaxing ride.