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Three Forks Loop (Cottonwood Creek to Fifth Water)

Basics
Location:
Spanish Fork Canyon
Length:
16 mile roundtrip
Difficulty:
Intermediate,
Advanced
Trailhead Elevation:
1900 feet
Elevation Change:
1900 feet

Description

The Three Forks Loop is a strong-intermediate to advanced trail in Diamond Fork (near Spanish Fork Canyon). The trail climbs Cottonwood Canyon as a single-track, traverses over a couple of canyons on Ray's Valley Road, then drops down Lower Fifth Water to Sixth Water and back to the Three Forks parking area. This is a surprisingly pretty trail, with twists and turns, quick up and downs, creek crossings, rock-dodging and root hopping. Length is 16 miles, with 1900 vertical feet of elevation change.

Details

Location:
Spanish Fork Canyon
Length:
16 mile roundtrip
Difficulty:
Intermediate
Advanced
Trailhead Elevation:
1900 feet
1900''
Elevation Change:
1900
Additional Details:
The trail begins at Three Forks, where Cottonwood Creek, Sixth Water, and Diamond Fork come together. From the parking area, cross the bridge over Diamond Fork then continue straight 100 feet to a bridge on your right that crosses Sixth Water. After crossing the river, bike straight ahead another 100 feet and plunge straight through the gully of Cottonwood Creek. Once you''re on the far side of tiny Cottonwood Creek, you''re on the trail. Starting at 5200 feet, the trail will climb to 7100.

The single-track trail up Cottonwood Creek passes through box elder, oak, cedar, and maple. This canyon "feels" very different from other northern Utah trails.

The trail has some quick technical uphills, a few tricky creek crossings, and a lot of twisting trail. Nothing too tough, though.

At 4.7 miles, the trail comes onto a dirt road. Hop onto the dirt road and grind 1.2 miles up to the paved Ray''s Valley Road. Turn left and bike 5 miles to the Fifth Water Trail. (Look for a prominent double-track crossing the road on the far side of a creek, note the sign that says "Fifth Water," and turn left downhill.)

At the end of the Cottonwood Creek single-track, the trail appears to turn left uphill. This trail gets steadily worse, and meanders hopelessly into a thousand cow trails. Stick to the gravel road.

The first mile of Fifth Water is double-track. The next two miles of single-track have some tricky sections, then the trail widens and runs quickly down to Sixth Water (a larger creek), then to the Three Forks trailhead. You''ll come out of the woods next to the bridge you crossed to reach Cottonwood Creek. The Falls are about 2.5 miles up the Fifth Water Trail. This is a popular attraction, but if it''s not too crowded, you might want to stop and play a while.

Information provided by utahmountainbiking.com.

Map + Directions

Basic Directions
Going south, take the first Spanish Fork exit from I-15 (US-6 to Price and Manti). Go east on US-6 and enter Spanish Fork Canyon. Drive 5.5 miles from the mouth of the canyon then turn left on the Diamond Fork road. Drive 10 miles and spot a dirt lane on the right descending to a small parking area. GPS N 40° 05.104' W 111° 21.302'.

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