Mapleton North: An Unfortunate Mess

April 17, 3 mile hike: 0 miles official trail, 1.5 miles unofficial BST route

Today we were fortunate to come to Maple Canyon on the first day the canyon (along with the trailhead at its mouth) was open for the season. It saved us some road walking. First was a short exploration of the old (and future) trail west of the trailhead that will eventually connect to the trail to the south where we were the other day, through the Clegg Canyon Subdivision that is just beginning construction below us. Then we headed east long the existing Maple Canyon Trail to where a trail heads onto the bench to the north.

This trail, known as the “Broken BST” in Trailforks, this stretch of unofficial trail on Forest Service property has always been a bit rough, especially a steep initial climb onto the bench, and a couple steep ravine crossings. Then in September 2020, the Ether Fire (one of several Utah County fires that were started last year by shooting), burned Ether Peak above us. The trail corridor was apparently the most convenient location for the firebreak, so the entire length of it was cleared. Then after the fire, to discourage motorized travel, the Forest Service plowed up the path into hummocks. Unfortunately, nothing was left of the trail. Since then, hikers, bikers, and horses have somewhat reestablished a path, but today, a few days after a major rainstorm, the whole thing was a muddy mess, especially in the north-facing slopes of the ravine crossings.

The trail ends at a fence, where the landowner does not intend to allow public trail access any time soon. Circumventing this ranch would require a climb of several hundred feet over a ridge, so the current BST plan of Mapleton City is to not use this segment at all, but rather to descend from the Maple Canyon trailhead down to follow paved paths along current and future city streets, connecting to the mouth of Hobble Creek Canyon in Springville. I suppose that is the most practical solution for the near future, but it would be nice to use the bench some time in the future.

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