Hobble Creek—Diamond Fork Canyon, Utah
In preparation for a six-day, 300-plus mile bike tour, I decided to load up my bike and go for a two-day shakedown ride. I wanted to make sure everything worked well with my new bike, new panniers, handlebar bag, etc. Though I had put about 500 miles on the bike I had never ridden it loaded.
I packed up the gear I would be using on the weeklong tour, though I did pack a smaller, lighter cook kit and tent since I was going solo. I left home on a Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m. Probably not a great time to be out as it was in the 90s, but I had things I had to get done in the morning.
I headed south from Provo to the town of Springville, about 6 or 7 miles away. From there I headed up Hobble Creek Canyon, Right Fork. It climbs gently for a few miles, past the golf course, until the pavement ends at Wadsworth Canyon.
I stopped at Balsam Campground, just below Wadsworth, to refill my water bottles. Wadsworth is a popular hiking and mountain biking trail with excellent single track. I dunked my head in Hobble Creek at Wadsworth in an attempt to cool off a bit. From my house to Wadsworth it was 22 miles.
Just after Wadsworth, the road turns to dirt. It's a pretty good, well-graded road, but with lots of small rocks. This is also where it gets pretty steep. Right as the road turns to dirt, the grade pitches up to 6 percent. The climb to the top is about 3.5 miles and goes from 6 percent all the way up to 12 percent. I had to walk several sections of this road. The steepness of the grade, the heat, and the loaded bike were too much for me. But the views of the forest all around and the valley below were wonderful.
It was a tough climb, especially in the heat of the day. I was really glad to get to the top. Several cars and trucks passed by along the way. The descent was scary with a loaded bike; at one point I hit 22 mph and was fishtailing, so I slowed down to a safer speed. I encountered lots of cows on the way down. Sometimes they would be stopped in the road and would not move, even with me yelling at them. What scared them enough to move was clicking into my pedals. That metal on metal sound seemed to get them running.
There were lots of potential camping sites along the creek, but there were too many cows around, meaning lots of cow pies. Besides, I was feeling good now that I was descending so I didn't really want to stop. The Hobble Creek Road eventually merged with Diamond Fork Road where it turned to pavement again. A short distance down the road there was a picnic area with an outhouse. There was no water, except for the creek; I decided to keep going as there was still plenty of daylight left and I was feeling pretty good.
I eventually made it to Diamond Fork Campground, 46 niles from my house. I selected a campsite (there were a lot to choose from, as the campground was pretty empty), paid the fee, and set up camp.
I cooked up a pot of mashed potatoes on my DIY cat food can alcohol stove.
The next morning I had an energy bar and some nuts for breakfast, then continued the ride down Diamond Fork Canyon. I then headed down Spanish Fork Canyon, which was not too bad; trucks gave me a wide berth. At the mouth of the canyon, I turned north through Mapleton and Springville, finally returning to Provo. The total distance was 68 miles.
This was a really nice ride, though the climb on dirt roads was pretty tough. There is a total of about 8 miles of dirt roads, around 3.5 miles going up and 4.5 going down. I read a blog post about some guys who did this on carbon racing bikes. They had four flats between them, but it was doable. Still, I was glad I had 35c wide tires. I plan to do it again this fall, but in one day.
My bike and gear all worked well, and I was really happy with my Lone Peak panniers and handlebar bag. I was now confident everything was in order for our weeklong tour.
Tip for this adventure: This would be a great ride in the autumn when the leaves are in full color. Though it can certainly be done with a standard road bike, even a racing bike, I highly recommend a bike with wider tires.
Favorite local bike shop: Mad Dog Cycles in Provo.