Best Peaks to Bag in Salt Lake City
As the snow slowly melts on the peaks of the highest mountains and wildflowers start to bloom, we get that summertime itch to start climbing. Peak bagging. Celebratory summits. Mountains for breakfast. We want it all.
And despite being known more for skiing, Salt Lake City has some pretty impressive mountains to summit close to downtown. When Outdoor Retailer was still in Salt Lake City, we had the opportunity to bag many peaks ourselves. 10/10 would recommend.
8-mile out-and-back, strenuous
A hike to the summit of Mount Raymond exemplifies the interconnectedness of many Wasatch trails. As you browse the summit log, you may find that most of the other hik- ers arrived by some other route. The path described here departs from the Butler Fork trailhead in Big Cottonwood Canyon, but you could just as easily use the Mill B North Fork trailhead or one of several Mill Creek Canyon trailheads. The Butler Fork route attains the summit with the least vertical ascent, though, and still offers an appealing approach.
Right below the peak, the trail ends and you’re face to face with a fractured ridge of angular limestone and quartzite. It’s a good scramble with some exposure, but nothing that would demand protective equipment or technical-climbing experience. There’s just enough maneuvering to make it fun.
As you might expect, the summit offers excellent views in all directions. You’ll enjoy seeing Mount Olympus from the less familiar back side, and Twin Peaks and Dromedary Peak to the south. At the summit you’ll find a USGS marker and a summit log.
4.4-mile out-and back, strenuous
Grandeur Peak is a beautiful summit, affording fantastic views of the Salt Lake Valley as well as breathtaking peaks to the south and east. This beauty, however, comes at the expense of popularity. Hikers who approach the summit from Mill Creek Canyon are often frustrated by the congestion on the eastern trail. By contrast, approaching the summit from the west offers hikers a physical challenge wholly different from the Mill Creek route—but with hardly any crowds at all.
The largest mark of progress on the hike is the appearance of Mount Olympus, just beyond the southern ridge of Mill Creek Canyon. Olympus is likely the best-known feature of Salt Lake Valley’s Wasatch ridgeline. As this rocky peak begins to poke its head over the other mountains, you should feel proud of your progress, as the summit is now less than 0.5 mile away.
Upon arriving at the summit, you’ll likely be asked how you got there by hikers unaware of this option. Despite the mountain’s perennial popularity, the western ridge remains a hidden gem.
14.8-mile out-and-back, strenuous
Mount Timpanogos, or “Timp” for short, is the most popular mountain-hiking destination in Utah. On any given summer Saturday, between 700 and 1,000 hikers depart from the two trailheads leading to the summit. Many have a summit destination in mind, and typically about 200–300 of those hikers make it to the top of the 11,749- foot peak. Some hikers make their ultimate destination one of the many waterfalls, meadows, or lakes, while others go as far as the saddle, less than a mile from the summit, and consider the view from the saddle as a worthy reward for their effort.
Climbing Timp can make for a long day, so an early start—even before dawn— can work to your advantage. This is especially important if you’re not used to the high elevations and you’re forced to move a little more slowly.
The Timpanogos saddle, at an elevation of 11,050 feet, offers excellent views of Utah Valley to the west. It’s a comfortable rest stop—so comfortable that many hikers make it their final destination without going to the summit. Continuing on requires another 0.9 mile of steady and sometimes steep ascents along a well-crafted rocky trail. A steady pace should take you from the saddle to the summit in 35 minutes, but most hikers frequently stop to catch their breath, and the trip takes between 45 minutes and 1 hour to gain 700 vertical feet to the metal summit hut.
For more great hikes around Salt Lake City, pick up a copy of the new edition of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Salt Lake City by Greg Witt.