Tony Grove to Bunchgrass, 7 October, 2018
Five Cache Hikers braved a weather forecast of a 50% chance of snow for this favorite fall hike. Dave P., Jane, Kathy, Teresa and Dave W. (leader) set up a "shuttle" by driving up Logan Canyon in two cars. We left one car at the Tony Grove Winter Trailhead near US-89, drove everyone up to Tony Grove Lake in the other car, donned "hunter orange" clothing for safety during elk hunting season and headed out on the trail under cloudy skies.
Our plan was to enjoy the fall colors while hiking the newly-constructed portions of the lower White Pine - Bunchgrass Canyon Trail where the Forest Service had been working to move the trailhead and to alleviate steeper sections of the old trail. Because this would add distance to our hike we skipped our usual side trip to White Pine Lake, ate an early lunch not far from the White Pine Lake Trail and White Pine - Bunchgrass Canyon Trail junction and headed down White Pine.
Some of the higher-elevation aspen trees no longer had leaves but we encountered trees covered with gold, orange and even red leaves as we hiked down White Pine Canyon. We found pieces of the old outhouse from the White Pine Campground next to the trail at about 8200 ft. elevation. The Forest Service began hauling the pieces out last winter but they weren't able to get them all the way out.
We came to the newly-constructed trail about 7 miles into our hike. The new tread was wide and smooth in most places, descending at a steady 6-7% grade for the rest of the way down. This gentle gradient makes for a more sustainable trail but it adds another 1.4 miles to the trail length (including more than a half-mile to the Tony Grove Winter Trailhead).
The new trail still needs work. There are significant portions that need smoothing and shaping by the trail crew, a new bridge over Tony Grove Creek needs to be installed and the final bit of trail from the Lewis Turner Campground to the Tony Grove Winter Trailhead has not been built. The trailhead parking area must be enlarged to accommodate the additional use by non-motorized users after UDOT reclaims the existing trailhead at Bunchgrass Creek (click here for the Forest Service Decision Memo).
This was an enjoyable hike, with better weather than expected and good fall color. The elk hunt was in progress but we saw few hunters and only heard two shots all day. Fees were not being collected at Tony Grove so the parking was "free", but unfortunately some hunters made a disgusting mess in the parking lot by cleaning out a couple of horse trailers there.
Thanks to Dave W. for the narrative, Dave W., Dave P. and Jane for photos and Dave W. for the GPS data.