For over 100 years, Mount Timpanogos (11,749 feet) has been the most popular hiking destination in Utah.  Timpanogos (locally referred to as “Timp”) towers over the valley floors below by more than 7,000 feet – an impressive sight that draws hikers of all ages to its trails.  Two trails are the most common accesses to the summit, Timpooneke Trail (from American Fork Canyon) and Mount Timpanogos Trail near Aspen Grove (from Provo Canyon).  I prefer the Timpooneke Trail because of its steady, runnable ascent.  A single round trip to the summit on this trail covers about 14-15 miles and climbs about 4,800 feet.  (Compare this to about 4,500 feet elevation change hiking down into the Grand Canyon from the South Rim and back with about the same mileage).


The Giant Staircase

The Timpooneke trailhead can be reached by driving up American Fork Canyon (near the cities of Alpine and Cedar Hills).   The trailhead is located just past the Timpooneke campground.  The trail ascends through a large valley, climbing through a series of four major plateaus, collectively known as the Giant Staircase.   You travel by impressive waterfalls, forests, and meadows with wildflowers.  Deer and moose are commonly seen along the way.  The final step in the staircase is the Timpanogos Basin (elevation 10,100 feet), a wide-open plateau, surrounded by mountains on three sides.  From this basin it is about two miles to the summit.   You first climb up to a saddle that presents a view of Utah Valley to the west.   Lastly, you make a rough, rocky climb that is steep at times up to the summit.

The saddle and trail toward the summit

The trail is mostly runnable, but very technical.  There are only short sections where the trail is smooth.  Most of the trail has large rocks imbedded in it and some rock-slide sections have loose rock.   The final steep climb to the summit has many loose rocks.  Running quickly down the trail requires intense concentration.  I enjoy the trail because it is so technical.

Three years ago, I made my first ascent up “Timp,” It was a slow ten-hour adventure that wore me out. It took me over five hours to reach the top. I was physically drained and felt sick and sore for two days. Eight to ten hours or more is typical hiking time for this strenuous hike. Now, in much better shape, a typical run/hike up and down Timp, without pushing too hard, takes me 4 hours. 2:20 up, and 1:40 down, with no rest stops. 

The Double Timp

Accomplishing a double Timpanogos hike is a significant physical and mental challenge. To achieve this feat, you do the hike twice in one day with a very short rest at the trailhead between trips to eat and drink. The 9,158 elevation climb and 9,158 decent in about 28 miles is a grueling physical challenge, but the mental aspect is just as challenging. After finishing an exhausting single hike, you must turn right around and make yourself repeat the same physical challenge again. 

I have accomplished the Double Timp on two occasions. During such a deed, you may pass other hikers as many as 3-4 times. When they finally realize that they have seen you pass them multiple times, they insist on knowing what is going on. Reactions are amusing. People are flabbergasted at the thought of hiking it twice, not to mention seeing you run many portions of the trail. On my first double experience several hiking groups cheered me as I descended for the second time. I remember one group started a chant, “Go for 3, go for 3.”

The Triple Timp

There have been four ultrarunners who have at least accomplished a Triple.  Myself, Phil Lowry of Hobble Creek, UT, Dallan Manscill of Provo UT, and Brent Rutledge of Lehi, Utah. 

Read my Triple adventures:  October 14-15, 2007 and June 29-30, 2005

The Quad Timp

Dallan Manscill and I are the only ultrarunners to accomplish a Quad.

Read my Quad adventure: June 30-July 1, 2006

The Quint Timp

I am the only one to accomplish a Quint.  After I finished that 5-time grueling experience, I told myself that it was the stupidest, most painful thing that I had ever done, and I vowed never to try to break that crazy record again.  While I was accomplishing that record, a hiker asked me, “What kind of record is that, a record for the criminally insane?”

Read my Quint adventure: August 18-19, 2006

Other records 

Phil Lowry and Ben Woolsey

More than 700 summits!

A local runner (member of the Sojourners Running Club) recently set a new speed record — 1:15:36 from Timpooneke trailhead to the summit.   Phil Lowry, of Springville, UT, holds the career summit record of over 360.   Retired postman, Ben Woolsey is in second place with over 340.  

Career Summits*


Date Roundtrip Time
1 Aug, 2002 Over 10 hours
2 Aug, 2003  
3 Aug 10, 2005  
4 Aug 12, 2005  
5 Sept 3, 2005  
6 Sept 3, 2005  
7 Sept 5, 2005  
8 Sept 17, 2005  
9 Oct 1, 2005  
10 Oct 8, 2005  
11 Oct 8, 2005  
12 Oct 10, 2005  
13 Oct 14, 2005  
14 Oct 14, 2005  
15 Oct 15, 2005  
16 Oct 18, 2005  
17 Oct 25, 2005  
18 Jun 24, 2006 5:15
19 Jun 24, 2006 4:22
20 Jun 28, 2006 3:48
21 Jul 1, 2006 4:13
22 Jul 1, 2006 5:00
23 Jul 1, 2006 5:45
24 Jul 1, 2006  
25 Jul 6, 2006 4:10
26 Jul 8, 2006 3:43 (PR)
27 Jul 22, 2006 4:25
28 Aug 12, 2006 4:30
29 Aug 16, 2006 4:30
30 Aug 19, 2006 4:15
31 Aug 19, 2006 5:11
32 Aug 19, 2006 5:05
33 Aug 19, 2006 5:24
34 Aug 19, 2006 6:03
35 Sep 2, 2006 3:50
36 Sep 4, 2006 4:00
37 Jun 23, 2007 5:00
38 Jun 27, 2007 4:12
39 Jun 29, 2007 4:25
40 Jun 29, 2007 4:48
41 Jun 30, 2007 5:45
42 Jul 4, 2007 3:52 (same morning as 10K PR)
43 Aug 11, 2007 3:55
44 Aug 25, 2007 4:15
45 Sep 1, 2007 3:59
46 Sept 3, 2007 3:45
47 Sept 22, 2007 4:17

*Note:  Many people only hike to the Timp Saddle, stopping a half mile short of the summit.   In addition to the summits recorded above, I have gone to the Timp Saddle another 16 times.