Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Box Elder Peak

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Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Box Elder Peak (11,101 ft) is the large, well known peak in between Mt. Timpanogos and Lone Peak - it dominates the ridgeline above, and to the North, of American Fork Canyon. Because the summit is over 11K, it is a popular hike among Peak Baggers. There are several routes to chose from, the most popular being the Dry Creek-Deer Creek Trail #043, which starts from the Granite Flats Campground just past Tibble Fork Reservoir. 

The best way to hike Box Elder Peak is to turn it into a loop hike so you get to see more of the mountain and experience a new trail. The route isn't for the beginner hiker though - the long, steep trail is sure to give your calves a workout, and leave you out of breath. On the way to the summit, the trail gains 4,900 ft in just 7 miles - whew! There is no water along the trail, so be prepared to carry at least 3 liters of water, plus more if you bring your dog. Another plus about hiking Box Elder - dogs are allowed off leash. 

Only dogs with a lot of hiking experience in rocky, rough terrain and who have done several high mileage hikes should attempt this hike. Charlie and I hike, on average, 15-20 miles a week, so he's used to doing hikes this long. If your dog have never done more than 10 miles in one day without issues (paws tearing, dehydration, soreness, etc), this is not the hike for them. Dogs will need at least 1 liter of water on this hike. 

Box Elder Peak is best to summit in Summer or Fall. Winter and Spring will be sketchy due to snow and avalanche terrain, and may require crampons and an ice axe - only very experienced mountaineers should attempt Box Elder in Winter.

From SLC, head south on I-15, and take exit 284 towards American Fork Canyon. You will now be on HWY 92 - drive into the canyon past the fee station. Turn left at the brown sign for Granite Flats Campground & Tibble Fork Reservoir. Drive this road for another 2 miles until you reach the reservoir. Just past the reservoir is a sharp left turn, which heads up the hill. Continue for about 1 mile until you reach the campground. If the campground gate is open (after 8am), you can park at the TH, which is about 100 yards past the entrance on the right. If the gate is locked, you can park just before the campground, on the right. There is enough space for about 4-5 cars in each area. Here is a map link.

Distance: 14 miles (loop)
Elevation gain: 5,100 ft
Time: 6-8 hours
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash
Kid friendly? No
Fees/Permits? 
There is a $6 fee for a 3 day pass to enter AF Canyon. If you have an annual National Park Pass or annual AF Canyon Pass it is free. No permit is required.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Parking is just before the campground entrance on the right. If the gate is open, you can drive through and park at the actual TH, also on the right, about 100 yards up the road.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Official TH for the Dry Creek-Deer Creek #043.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 The first 1.5 miles is pleasant through a forested area.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 You'll cross the dirt road twice. Be careful of cars and ATVs flying down this road.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 At 1.8 miles, you hit the first of many switchbacks. This is also when the trail begins to really gain elevation.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Switchbacks through an Aspen grove.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Many times I thought I may have been on the wrong trail, because it keep heading north, and away from Box Elder. I kept checking my map, and I was on track, so I just let the trail lead me up. Although Box Elder Peak stares at you the entire hike, it seems really close, and like you are almost there. Not quite. It's actually much further than you think.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Fitness Fox Headbands
 Working hard uphill with my newest addition to my Fitness Fox Headband collection, called Rio Shuffle.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Note that the trail doesn't lead directly to the main saddle. It actually takes you up higher on the ridge to a flat meadow to a 4-way intersection. First, you will cross this white boulder field.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Charlie loves hopping on rocks - the wind makes his ears fly and look super cute!
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Finally at the 4-way intersection. To get to Box Elder Peak, you'll want to continue straight, along the ridge. From this point to the summit, it took me another 1.5 hours.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Looking the other direction (North) at the intersection, you have a view of the south side of the Pfeifferhorn (another awesome hike, but not described on my blog since I summited it in 2014).
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Continuing down the ridge, you'll reach this trail split. To reach the summit, go straight, and the trail becomes extremely steep. 

This trail split, is where you'll want to return to and turn at, if completing the loop as I am describing here.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Of course, we had to first make the summit. The trail was VERY steep, and this stretch from the saddle to the peak is the hardest section of the trail.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 The climb up never seems to end...
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Great views across the basin to the Little Cottonwood ridgeline - Lone Peak on the far left, the Pfeifferhorn again with the darkest cloud over it in the middle, & White Baldy to the far right.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 The trail to the summit stays on the West side of the ridge.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 The last 20 yards to the summit...Charlie in the lead.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 3 hours 12 min to reach the summit - whew! That was a tough peak to summit. Point of the Mountain is below me, and the Oquirrh Mountains in the distance.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Summit snuggles, as always.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Great view of Mt. Timpanogos to the south. See that little dot of a meadow below Timp? That's Julie Andrews Meadow!
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 After summiting Box Elder, head back down to that last un-signed trail split, and follow it downhill from the saddle. 
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 This trail turns into White Canyon Trail (however, you won't see any signs for it for the next 2 miles or so). You can't tell by the photo, but when you are hiking down this, you can actually see the Dry Creek-Deer Creek trail you hiked up on across the canyon.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 The trail seems to head too far south, and just when you though you couldn't take it anymore, the trail gains a little more elevation. I felt a little discouraged at times, checking my route to make sure I was going the right way. The trail does get a bit overgrown at times, but it's never hard to stay on the correct trail.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Eventually, you'll reach a signed trail split. Turn left here, and you are now on the Box Elder Trail #044. This route is another option for summiting Box Elder if you turn right.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Passing by an old miners cabin on the right.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 After what seems like forever, you'll be back at the campgound. Make your way through it back to your car.
Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with DogsHiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
My stats and route via Gaia GPS (my favorite outdoor/hiking app for tracking stats). I completed the loop in just over 6 hours.
Box Elder Peak, Utah trail map
 Box Elder Peak trail map, looking SW.
Box Elder Peak, Utah trail map
  Box Elder Peak trail map, looking NW.
Box Elder Peak, Utah trail map
Close up of the upper part of the trail to the summit.




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Hiking to Box Elder Peak, Utah, Hiking in Utah
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4 comments:

  1. Cutest picture of Charlie - with his ears flapping in the wind - love it!

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    1. Thanks, me too! It was one of my favorite photos from the hike. - Alicia

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  2. Congratulations on another peak in the books! You are one brave woman heading out there alone. I have no (and I mean no) sense of direction so when I see someone hiking like this in the wilderness alone, I get nervous. I don't think I would return...haha! But I imagine Charlie could bring you home:) Love the photo of Charlie with his flying ears and, of course, the two of you snuggling:) Your summit shot is spectacular! My favorite is Little Cottonwood Ridge with the cloud sitting on the peaks.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, that is also one of my favorite photos from the hike! Alicia

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