Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Need to Know
To get to the parking lot, there is a $6 entrance fee to get into American Fork Canyon.
Although this trail is beautiful, it is rugged and can often be technical. There are quite a few spots where the trail becomes very narrow, with steep dropoffs on the side, and other parts where it is very rocky. There are also sections that get overgrown because of lack of pruning and use, but there are also lots of runnable sections and incredible views!
After leaving the trailhead, this trail starts by meandering through a thick forest, alongside a small spring-fed stream. The trail soon leaves the spring, however, and starts to ascend steeply through the forest. After about 0.75 miles, the grade lessens slightly as the trail travels through a nice meadow, but then steepens again as it leaves the meadow. After about 1.5 miles, the trail passes the remains of an old cabin, and then ascends through a meadow to a couple of trail junctions between 1.8-2 miles. The Box Elder Trail continues to the left (west and south) at both of these junctions, as the trail starts to circumnavigate Box Elder Peak.
During this stretch between miles 2 and 3, the grade flattens out a little bit, but the trail still undulates as it goes in and out of drainages and avalanche paths. The trail in this section can often be very narrow and rocky, and in some places can be a little bit hard to find. However, the scenery is spectacular, and the terrain is rugged, which makes it a really fun place to run and explore. After about 3 miles, the trail starts to ascend through a beautiful meadow up to a pass on the southeast flank of South Box Elder peak.
After hitting this pass, the trail drops down slightly and passes through a large rock garden and then starts to ascend again, on an increasingly narrow trail along the southern slopes of South Box Elder. This is a really cool part, with great views of Utah Valley, and great views down the avalanche paths on the south side of Box Elder Peak. After traversing this side of Box Elder, the trail ascends to another small pass at around mile 4. This pass is the high point of the trail, at around 9,900 feet above sea level.
After hitting this pass, the trail turns into mostly downhill and flat terrain as it continues to traverse the flanks of Box Elder peak. This is a really fun section beyond the pass, because the terrain becomes largely more manageable, and passes through large meadows, with great views of Box Elder and the surrounding peaks. At around mile 5, there is a trail junction with the Box Elder Summit Trail
that is easy to miss because it heads back to the southeast. About 0.25 miles after this trail junction, there is another junction with the Phelps Canyon Trail. Continue to the right to stay on the Box Elder Trail. The trail then continues along the western side of Box Elder, slowly descending until the last 0.75 miles, where it drops steeply to meet up with the Deer Creek-Dry Creek Trail #043
Flora & Fauna
Mountain goats, deer, elk, birds, etc. Also, plentiful wildflowers in early summer.
Shared By: Tomsen Reed