Monday, October 31, 2016

Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak

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Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Willard Peak (9,763 ft) and Ben Lomond Peak (9,712 ft) are the two high points dominating the Northern end of the Wasatch Mountains, above Ogden, Utah. Willard Peak is the high point for Weber County, though it sees less than half the amount of hikers compared to the popular Ben Lomond Peak. Both are worthy summits, and to avoid having to come back on separate days to hike each one, do both in one trip.

There are several access points for starting your hike to each summit. The easiest way is via Willard Basin, which is only available to drive up from July 1 through October 31st (when the gates are open). Driving this narrow, winding, dirt road does require a 4X4 car such as a truck or jeep. Small, compact cars will not make it. 

Both peaks are fairly easy, especially if you have some peak bagging experience. If you are a beginner hiker, you may find it more difficult. The trail starts from Willard Basin Campground, and passes by a high alpine lake before reaching the ridge. The hike up to Willard Peak follows a very lightly tracked trail marked by cairns, while hiking over to Ben Lomond is easier along a heavily trafficked trail due to popularity. The entire hike will offer amazing views of Willard Bay and the Great Salt Lake to the West, as well as the valleys to the East. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Ogden to the south as well.
From SLC, head north on I-15 and take exit 362. Drive 5.1 miles along HWY 91, and take the exit for 100 S in Mantua, UT (pronounced Mant-away). Turn right on Main St, which then turns into Willard Peak Road. Follow this road, which turns into a dirt road. Once you are on the dirt road, it will take you an hour to reach the trailhead, even though it's only 8 miles away. Here is a driving map. Total drive time from SLC is about 2 hours.

Distance: 7.6 miles RT
Elevation gain: 1,500 ft
Time: 3-5 hours
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash
Kid friendly? Yes (except for Willard Peak)
Fees/Permits? None
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Driving below Willard and Ben along I-15. Looks like we would be hiking in the clouds that day!
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 After driving for 45 minutes up the dirt road, you should see this very large brown sign.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 One more Willard Basin sign.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 The trailhead is not marked off the dirt road, but it starts at the Willard Basin Campground. It is marked by this brown forest service pole and three large boulders.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 After you walk up about 100 yards you should see the official TH sign.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Reaching the alpine lake, we let the dogs take a dip. The trail continues to the left, and will wind it's way up to the ridge.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Working our way past the lake.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 One switchback will take you to the ridge.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Once at the ridge, look for the very light trail that heads directly up the ridge leading to Willard Peak. You'll see a trail that goes left, but in a more downward direction - don't take that. As long as you stay on the ridge, you'll reach the peak. Keep an eye out for cairns.

I made Charlie wear his Ruffwear Track Jacket in case we came across hunters. It also helps for visibility, so I could easily see him through the fog and clouds.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Hiking on the ridge we weren't able to see anything from the weather.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
You'll work you way through a small rocky area.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
This part looked scary, but it was actually only maybe 8-10 feet deep. It's very easy to hike around.

Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 We made it to Willard Peak in 1 hour. It was much easier than I was expecting. From how rocky the peak looks from a distance, I though we would need to scramble up, but it was easy hiking the whole way up.

Group photo with some buddies, and Charlie mid-air. We couldn't see a thing from being in the clouds!
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Trying to look over the edge. 
After hanging out at the summit, we decided to hike back down the same way we came up (the North ridge), instead of going down the South ridge. The trail was easy to come up that way, and since we didn't know what the other side looked like, we were afraid we would get cliffed out. Later, after the clouds had cleared, we could see that we really would have gotten cliffed out. I'm glad we went down the same way. 
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Back on the main trail, you will be hiking below Willard Peak, heading in a Southerly direction.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 The next 2 miles are the easiest, as you hike along a well maintained trail to Ben Lomond Peak.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 You'll see this pole, and the trail splits. They both meet up in the same location, so take your pick.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 When you get close to Ben Lomond, you'll walk along the side of this rock wall.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 On the summit of Ben Lomond! The clouds started to clear a little, and we finally had a great view of Ogden, UT below us.

Fun Fact: Ben Lomond Peak was named after Ben Lomond in the Scottish Highlands.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Taking in our view.

 According to some sources, the Paramount Pictures Logo, known as Majestic Mountain, was modeled after Ben Lomond Peak. It is said that William Hodkinson, the founder of Paramount and a native of Odgen, initially drew the image on a napkin during a meeting in 1914.  Do you see the resemblance?
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 No matter what state you are in...it's an outdoor way of life!
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Ben Lomond Peak summit register.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Looking back to Willard Peak and the ridge we just hiked across.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak trail mapHiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak trail map
My trail stats (one way) via Gaia GPS. 
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak trail map
 Trail map to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak looking East.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak trail map
 Trail map to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak looking South.
Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak trail map
A close up of the trail map to Willard Peak.
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Hiking to Willard Peak & Ben Lomond Peak, Utah, Weber County High Point, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
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3 comments:

  1. Awesome hike and route variation. I did Willard once from Inspiration Point but it would be much more interesting going past the lake and then on to Ben Lomond. GREAT DESCRIPTION and great website!!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! The very first time I hiked to Ben was via Inspiration Point. It cuts off a little distance and elevation gain, but I loved being able to stop by the lake, especially since we had 3 dogs with us. They loved taking a dip in the water! -Alicia

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  2. That is awesome! My son and I did both peaks on different days. I drive up to lookout point with my jeep though. Great pictures! We saw a lot more wild life going up to Willard than B.L. Thanks for sharing.
    Pete

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