A Fall Ride on the Nebo Loop

This is an incredible time to ride in Utah and one of my favorite fall rides is over the Nebo Loop. Although this little road doesn’t show up in the Touring Handbook, it’s a gem—and well worth it this time of year. We might have hit it a little early this year, but not by much. We’ve waited and been over the top in a little sleet before, so the next few weeks should be just about perfect for the ride.

We left about 9:00 am headed south on I-15. Point of the Mountain is still a mess, so expect to play a little bumper-cars as inpatient motorists think jockeying for position through the construction zone will get them over any quicker. Better yet, avoid that little section of I-15 all together if you can.

The ride starts out of Payson and access to the canyon isn’t really obvious (it starts through a residential neighborhood). If you’re coming from the north, like we were, look for 600 E. You’ll know you’re in the right place if you see the Petteetneet Community Center.

When Payson was originally settled in 1850, it was named Petteetneet after a local Ute chief who lived in the area—it was later changed to Payson. However it’s unlikely the settlers would have made it through the winter without the kindness of the chief and his band.

After leaving the neighborhood, the road approaches Payson Canyon. You’ll start to see the crimson of the scrub oak in the lower elevations, but Nebo’s scenery is dominated by the gold and green of the aspen and pine trees. Campers, deer hunters, and leaf-peepers are out in force this time of year, so expect to share the road. We passed a group of classic hot-rodders enjoying the early fall weather, which was kind of fun—even through they were on four wheels.

While beautiful, this isn’t the best “first ride” for a new rider. There are lots of slow-speed turns and you’ll need to keep your speed under control for the descent down into Nephi. We rode past a couple of riders who looked pretty intimidated on the way down.

We stopped in Nephi for lunch at Lisa’s Country Kitchen. We usually stop here when we’re nearby for lunch. The food is pretty good. The special was a hot beef sandwich. They make their own potato chips, which are pretty good too.

We decided to ride past the west side of Utah Lake and avoid I-15 for the ride home. Riding north out of Nephi, just outside of Mona, if you hang a left on Goshen Canyon Road, you’ll be on a little two-lane that is a fun way to bypass Santaquin. Once in Goshen, you’ll connect with Highway 6, can hang a left and be in Elberta before you know it.

There’s seldom much traffic on the west side of the lake, but it seems to be regularly patrolled by the local constabulary heading into Saratoga Springs, so be warned.

Instead of jumping on the freeway at Bangerter (which is what we often do), Kelly led us down a little detour out of Bluffdale on the south end of 1300 west, which was a fun little road that would probably be more comfortable a little further south than in the middle of the Salt Lake Valley. It was a fun little surprise at the end of a beautiful ride.