Have a mind to summit the second highest peak in the Wasatch front? Timp Summit is a beautiful, life-changing trail that everyone in Utah should do at least once! There is no better feeling than reaching the top of a mountain and looking at the world below you!
Overview: The trails to Timp Summit give you everything you could ask for on a hike: mountain meadows full of wildflowers, scenic waterfalls, aspen trees, evergreens, beautiful mountain vistas and even a pristine alpine lake!
This post is going to be pretty long, but I want to give you as much info as possible for a hike of this length. Here are the topics we will be covering:
- Timpooneke vs Aspen Grove Trailheads
- How to prep for summiting Timp
- How long will it take to summit Timp
- Timpooneke Trail Highlights and Markers
- What to pack for summiting Timp
- Trail Details (map, coordinates, etc.)
Timpooneke vs Aspen Grove Trailheads: There are two trailheads you can take to summit Timp. The Aspen Grove trailhead and the Timpooneke Trailhead. We took the Timpooneke trailhead, which is said to be slighty longer but less steep than the Aspen Grove trailhead. Personally, I chose the Timpooneke route for three main reasons:
1. Not as Steep (compared to Aspen Grove trail)
2. Waterfalls (Scout Falls and other small waterfalls along the way)
3. Popular Vote (Most people we talked to said they preferred the beauty of the Timpooneke trail compared to the Aspen Grove trail. I am also biased towards anything up American Fork Canyon.)
HOWEVER, Aspen Grove would be a better fit for you if you were wanting a slightly shorter trail that conveniently passes Emerald Lake (you have to branch off to get to Emerald Lake from the Timpooneke trail). The Aspen Grove trail also has Timp Falls, which are very scenic.
It would have been ideal to have two cars and park one at each trailhead, and make the whole hike a loop. However, that might not be the most convenient option.
If you still aren’t sure which trail to take (and can’t make a loop), then go ahead and sample a portion of each hike a few weeks before. It will help you get a feel for each trail and prep your body.
To sample the Aspen Grove trail, hike to Timp Falls (2 miles round trip).
To sample the Timpooneke trail hike to Scout Falls (3 miles round trip).
How to prep for summiting Timp: Either trail you take, get ready for a tough hike. Timp is about 11,749′ and you will need to be both physically and mentally prepared for this hike. I recommend hiking every week (starting in the Spring) and gradually working your way up from easy to strenuous trails. Then, plan on hiking Timp one of the first two weeks in August, when the wildflowers are in bloom. A park ranger also said to watch for the snow to melt from the top of Timp to help you gauge when to go. Again, sampling a portion of each trail to either Timp Falls or Scout Falls would also be a good idea.
Like I said, we chose the Timpooneke trailhead so from here on out I will be telling you how to summit Timp and swing by Emerald Lake via the Timpooneke trail. (It is not necessary to swing by Emerald Lake if you don’t want to. I will mention below when you will have the option.) If you want to learn more about the Aspen Grove trail go here.
How long will it take to summit Timp: According to the park rangers, the Timpooneke trail is about 15 miles round trip to the summit of Timp (not including the branch-off to see Emerald Lake or Scout Falls).
Zach and I are pretty brisk hikers, and this is how long each portion took us:
From trailhead to Emerald Lake: 3.5 hours
Emerald Lake to Timp Summit: 2.5 hours
Timp Summit back down to trailhead: 3.5 hours
Total: 10 hours (including a 30 minute break for lunch)
I wanted to start this hike around 3am, but unfortunately we had a late night. We started around 6:30am and finished around 4:30pm.
Also, if you want to backpack Timp and camp overnight…Middle Basin and Timp Basin seem to be popular spots to pitch the tent. If you want to camp at Emerald Lake, then make sure you are at least 200ft away from the water.
Timpooneke Trail Highlights and Markers: Below is a list of the main highlights or markers on the trail to help you get a feel for where you are at when hiking. The whole trail climbs what is called The Giant Staircase. I like to think of the trail as having four levels. The bottom level (from the trailhead) climbs up past Scout Falls to the second level (Middle Basin). Then you will take long sweeping switch backs up Middle Basin until you reach Timp Basin (the third level). From Timp Basin you can branch off to Emerald Lake (or not) and finally climb to the forth and last level (The Saddle). The Saddle then takes you along the ridge line to the summit (or highest point) of Timp.
Scout Falls (1.5 miles up the trail; there will be a sign marking the side trail)
Middle Basin (long sweeping switch backs with some rocky avalanche debris)
Timpanogos Basin (you will see views of Timp at last)
The Toilet (literally a wooden sign that says “Toilet”)
Emerald Lake Branch Off (You will see a wooden sign that points to the left for Emerald Lake and to the right for Timp Summit. To reach Timp Summit from Emerald Lake take the trail along the rock slide that connects with the Timp Summit trail in the distance. You can also just head back to the wooden sign, but that will take longer.)
The Flower Garden (Lots of colorful wildflowers in the Timp Basin meadows)
The Saddle (Good place to take a break and enjoy the view before hiking up the ridge line to the highest point on Timp. Also, from this point on you will notice that the air is a lot thinner. You may not have that much left to go, but you will find it takes longer than you think. This is mostly because you will have to break a lot more often to catch your breath and let your heart settle. Take your time.)
Disappointment Pass (This is my personal addition to the trail markers. It is the part on the ridge line where you think you are almost at the end, but then turn a corner just to find you have a lot longer to go and even more switch backs…I sat here to reapply sunscreen and watched every single person who passed this point cry out in dismay. Hence the name.)
Timp Summit (The highest point on Timp with the old station and log book to sign! You get reasonable cell reception up here so call the fam (to check in) and have them wave up to you!)
Wildlife: We saw lots of mountain goats, deer and the typical voles and chipmunks on this trail. Moose have been sighted on this trail before, but unfortunately, we didn’t see any. This is also bear country (again-we didn’t encounter any), so investing in bear mace wouldn’t hurt. I’d be surprised if anyone ran into a bear with how crowded this trail is, though. Keep your eye out for the unique birds you will spot on this trail and the butterflies that will surprise you at the summit!
Water (2 liters was a good amount for me, but Zach needed more like 3.5 liters. Most groups we talked to ran out of water on their way down. Not fun. If you don’t have a water filter, then pack way more than you think you will need. As you drink it, your pack will get lighter and easier to carry.)
Headlamps (if you plan on starting the hike when it is still dark)
Mole skin (So glad I packed this! I ended up getting a blister on my heel in shoes I have never gotten a blister in before! I think it was due to the steepness of the trail.)
Food (I had snack stuff like trailmix, jerky and granola bars. You will also want to pack a lunch!)
Sunblock (I had 50SPF)
Wet Bag (In case a freak rain storm might soak your camera or phone! It weighs almost nothing to bring a little rain insurance along.)
Jacket (The evening air is cool, and the top of Timp can be cool as well. I packed a rain jacket.)
Garmin eTrex Hiking GPS (I loaded the coordinates to the trailhead, Emerald Lake and Timp Summit.)
Tissues Pack (Zach has allergies, and sometimes the allergy pills don’t cut it.)
Inhaler (I have sports asthma. If you have a preexisting condition like asthma or a bad knee, remember to pack for it.)
Biodegradable Toiletries – in case the need arises.
*Note on footwear: Please wear shoes you know can protect your feet! I was wishing I had a good pair of hiking boots on because the trail was so rocky and long! My feet felt very bruised and battered in my normal trail shoes!
Length: About 15 miles round trip to the Summit of Timp (not including the branch off to Scout Falls or Emerald Lake)
Season: The park ranger we talked to at the trailhead recommended hiking Timp in early August to catch the wildflowers, but the general rule of thumb is to watch for the snow to disappear at the top of Timp.
Location: The Timpooneke Trailhead is located up American Fork Canyon. (This is a fee use area unless you have a National Parks Pass.) Drive up American Fork Canyon until you reach a fork in the road and turn right (the left fork leads to Tibble Fork). Go up the road through the Timpanooke Campground to reach the parking area.
Parking: This is a new category I added just for this hike! The parking for this trail was completely full at 6:30am on a Saturday. (Probably because groups like to start it before sunrise.) We ended up going down the road a ways to park. I even heard that they had to start closing the road because people were parking where they weren’t supposed to park. Get there early and keep your group small if possible.
- Timpooneke Trailhead: 40.43126°, -111.63914°
- Scout Falls: 40.41717°, -111.63992°
- Emerald Lake: 40.39269°, -111.64017°
- Timp Saddle: 40.396111°, -111.654722°
- Timp Summit: 40.39084°, -111.64593°
The great thing about hiking a summit like Timp is that you know you can hike almost anything after that. Good luck and be safe! Feel free to pin the image below onto your summer bucket list!