Tag Archives: Mirror Lake Highway

Beat’n the Heat: The Mirror Lake Highway

Mirror Lake HighwayBecause the temperatures have been near or surpassing 100 for the last couple of weeks, the thoughts of heading to the mountains to escape the heat make climbing on the bike for a ride very tempting. The other day Kelly called to see if I was up for a ride to Brighton up Big Cottonwood Canyon. “You were the only guy I knew more hardcore than me,” he said. “I knew you’d be up for a ride.”

While I’m up for a ride just about any time, it was the thoughts of escaping the heat with cooler temps that enticed me. The same was true of a ride over the Mirror Lake Highway.

When my sister Jan called and wanted to go for a ride, I couldn’t think of anyplace better to beat the heat that a ride past Mirror Lake. It wasn’t until we passed Soapstone Basin that it started to cool off, but as we crested Bald Mountain Pass and headed down the other side the temperature was probably 20 degrees cooler than it was just an hour before.

The Mirror Lake Highway is a great ride, but particularly in the middle of the summer when it’s really hot in Salt Lake. If you’re up for braving the heat to get out of town. We stopped at the Bear River Station and got something to drink and decide what we were going to do next. I often ride this as an out-and-back, because it includes less Interstate highway, but Jan wanted to go through Evanston, so we continued north into Wyoming.

Once you leave the forest on 150 and drop into Wyoming it’s some beautiful farmland for the rest of the ride into Evanston before you hop back on the freeway. It remained pretty cool until we hit the highway, but seemed to hit a wall-o-heat about the time we passed the Utah point of entry station in Echo Canyon. After that it was pounding out miles in the heat the rest of the way home.

If we’d of had more time, we could have dropped into Weber Canyon and gone over East Canyon (which might have been a little cooler), but we didn’t. Despite the heat, it was a fun ride and any time in the saddle is better than no time, so I had a good time.



Filed under Uncategorized, Utah Rides

Early Evening in Kamas Valley

Kamas ValleyI was feeling a little cooped up and claustrophobic, but only had a couple of hours to blow out the cobwebs with some wind in my face, so I decided to point the bike towards the Kamas Valley. The area is the gateway to another couple of great rides—the Mirror Lake Highway and the road over Wolf Creek Pass—but it’s also a beautiful ride through pastoral landscape and a decent destination when you don’t have a lot of time. It’s a great ride for after work.

Like many rides in the area, it starts by climbing up out of the Salt Lake Valley through Parley’s Canyon. I opted for the Brown’s Canyon Road rather than the Interstate to Wanship due to the construction, so jumped on Highway 40 for a few until the Park City exit on Hwy 248. Another five or so minutes and I was on the Brown’s Canyon Road. At 4:00 in the afternoon, I pretty much had the road to myself.

Dropping down into the sleepy little town of Peoa, I took a right and headed through town toward Oakley and Kamas. The temperature was ideal and my mesh riding jacket was all I needed. Everything was green and lush as I passed the ranch houses and cabins approaching Kamas. If I’d had another half hour, I would have continued on to Francis and around the south side of Jordanelle, but I was running out of time and jumped back on 248 toward Park City and home.

Mesh JacketThis time of year, on days when the weather is warm, a mesh riding jacket is just the ticket. Several years ago I bought this jacket and have come to really like it. It’s a great alternative to a vest, let’s the breeze blow through, and still offers some protection. What’s more, when the weather gets really hot later in the summer, adding a hydration vest underneath turns it into a great air conditioner.

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Filed under Gear Review, Utah Rides

Provo Canyon, Daniels Canyon, Wolf Creek Pass, and the Mirror Lake Highway=Epic Day in the Saddle

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 9.58.05 PMKelly and I left shortly after 8:00 am. We headed south thinking we’d start with Provo Canyon. The beautiful Provo River meanders alongside the road but “progress?” has changed the way the river flows and the nature of the drive. As a kid I remember my parents being excited about improvements they were making to the highway. Widening the road, smoothing out what was once a winding ride along the Provo River. I have to admit, as beautiful as the drive through Provo Canyon is today, I can’t help but wonder what it was like riding through the canyon 50 years ago.

With Kelly in the lead, you never know where you’re going to end up, but I can guarantee it’s going to be a fun ride. The plan was to cruise through Midway, skirt the south end of the Jordanelle Reservoir to Francis, and head over Wolf Creek Pass, but Kelly skipped the turn in Midway and headed for Heber and US Highway 40 instead. I haven’t been over Daniels Canyon and past Strawberry Reservoir for several years. My grandparents used to live in the Uinta Basin and we’d driven over this stretch of highway hundreds of times. Although US-40 isn’t an Interstate like I-15 over Parley’s Canyon (which is how we came home), like Provo Canyon, it sees  a lot of traffic.

The temperatures started to rise as we dropped down into Fruitland before the turnoff to Tabiona and Wolf Creek pass. I shed my jacket, had a bottle of water, and talked about bikes with Kelly for a few minutes. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Tabiona this way, I usually treat this ride as an out-and-back because the pass is so beautiful. The climb up Daniels out of Heber and around the north end of Strawberry was much prettier than I remembered. I was glad Kelly decided to take us this way.

TyandKellyTemperatures dropped as we climbed the pass to the summit, but the escape from the heat was a welcomed relief as we cris-crossed our way down the other side into Francis. The mountain valley’s in Utah are beautiful and some of my favorite riding.

We stopped in Kamas for lunch in a cafe neither Kelly nor I had been to before, The Gateway Grill. The place definitely caters to the tourists, but my cheeseburger was tasty and the service was good. I’ve been looking for a good place in Kamas and will stop there again.

Over lunch Kelly suggested that instead of calling it a day and heading home, it might be a good idea to take the long way over the Mirror Lake Highway through Evanston, Wyoming. I didn’t need to be back early, so I was all in—it never takes very much to convince me to add a few more miles. The road from Kamas to Mirror Lake and on to Evanston is beautiful. After stopping at the summit of Bald Mountain Pass for a photo, we dropped down the other side headed for Wyoming.

We hit a couple of my favorite northern Utah rides, spent six or seven hours in the saddle, and had a great time. If you like to spend the day in the saddle, you’d love this ride out of Salt Lake. Wolf Creek Pass and the Mirror Lake Highway are great rides in and of themselves, but tie them together and you have an epic day.

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Filed under Utah Rides