Off the Beaten Path
Photos and story by James Kirk
All of these trails can be found within an hour of the Salt Lake metro area. Rough, rugged trails reflect the character of the Wasatch mountains. So pack the essentials, call in sick and get hiking!
1. Box Elder Peak Loop
Box Elder Peaks lies in the Lone Peak Wilderness area nestled between Timpanogos and Lone peak and remains one of the most pristine areas in the Wasatch. The mountain can be circumnavigated starting either on the west or eastside. I’ve found the eastern start to be more scenic less steep. The eastern trailhead is gained via American Fork canyon, past Tibble Fork reservoir to the Granite flat campground. Climb Deer Creek 3 miles to the nicest saddle in all of the Wasatch. Descend 2 miles west down dry creek to a left turn south. Trend south along the mountain eventually reaching another saddle. Descend forever down wide hollow back to the campground. You’ll never forget it.
2. Desolation Trail
The Desolation Trail is THE long lost secret of the Wasatch. The trail follows nearly the entirety of ridge between Millcreek and Big Cottonwood canyons. The trail is a study in contrast with huge horizontal/nearly flat stretches and at the same time huge overall vertical relief. Most descriptions of the trail describe it as starting at the Thaynes Canyon trailhead 3.4 miles up millcreek. I found the trail flows best by starting at the top of Frary Peak from the Antelope Island causeway Meadow at the saddle of Dry and Deer Creek on Box Elder Peak Mill A basin beneath Mt. Raymond along the Desolation trail Millcreek canyon and hiking to Dog Lake then continuing west through the Mt. Olympus wilderness. The trail will pass Gobbler’s Knob, Mt. Raymond and eventually Porter Fork. Descent can be made via Porter Fork but scenery is best continuing out the Desolation trail and descending via Thaynes Canyon. Shuttle back to your car.
3. Honeycomb Canyon
Honeycomb canyon be thought of as the backside of Solitude ski resort. It’s a side drainage of Silver Fork in Big Cottonwood. It has a very rich mining history. Once you find the critical left at the base, there are several steep sections. You’ll pass several mines and collapsed cabins.Near the top, you’ll probably lose the trail; it’s up the hill to your left. The trail terminates at the top of the Summit chairlift. Descend options abound! Turn around, go back or descend via lake Solitude on access roads, Brighton via Twin Lakes Reservoir, or Alta via Twin Lakes pass. Good stuff!
4. Green’s Basin
Green’s Basin is a great little hike you’ve probably never heard of. It branches off from the Days Fork Trail after about a third of a mile and traverses a steep slope to a pleasant little valley. It’s a little less than 2 miles to the meadow. The majority of the trail is north-facing so shade is abundant. It’s a good choice for the heat of summer. The meadow is a perfect spot for a picnic and afternoon nap. An optional descent can be found just short of the meadow. An old mining track descends to a small neighborhood just up the canyon from Spruces campground. Follow the stream back to your car. Shhh! don’t tell anyone–it’s a secret!
5. Frary Peak
Frary Peak is the highest point on Antelope Island. I think it should be called Antelope Island peak but I guess Frary was a pretty important guy around these parts. The hike starts on the eastern side of the island. Follow signs to the trailhead. The trail steadily climbs to the main ridge of Frary peak where it climbs at a steady rate until the peak. There is next to no shade on this route. Be prepared. Take a hat, sunscreen and water! The view is like no where else. Salt Lake looks like a port city! §
|Box Elder Peak||14 mi||Loop||Granite Flat|
|Desolation Trail||18 mi. Top|
in BIG and
or out ‘n
|Green’s Basin||3.5 mi|
or out ‘n
|Frary Peak||7 mi.|
|East side of|