Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Hiking to Deseret Peak

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Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Deseret Peak (11,031 ft) is one of Utah's Ultra Prominent Peaks, is the tallest mountain in the Stansbury Mountain range, and the Tooele County highpoint. Therefore, this 9 mile loop is popular among peak baggers and those looking for an "easy" summit. This trail gains 3,700 ft in just 4 miles, is dog friendly, and offers amazing views of the surrounding area. 

The best time to hike here is typically June - November, or whenever the snow is mostly gone. However, you can still find patches of snow in June & July. While the valley can be in the 90s, Deseret Peak can still be very cold and windy on the summit. Bring plenty of water for you and your dogs. There is a stream at the beginning and end, but Charlie and I shared 3 liters of water between the two of us. Kids may be able to summit, depending on their peak bagging experience. I've even seen people carrying baby backpacks to the summit. 


From SLC, head West on I-80 and take exit 99 for Tooele, UT. Drive 3.4 miles, then turn right on HWY 138. Drive 10.8 miles and turn left on S West St (you will also see a large brown sign for South Willow Canyon here). Drive 4.3 miles then turn right on S. Willow Drive for South Willow Canyon. Drive to the very end of the road to the trailhead. It's a dirt road, but well-graded. Any car can make it. There is a port-a-potty at the TH. The drive from SLC is about 1 hour 20 minutes.

Here's a driving map.

Distance: 9 miles RT (Loop)
Elevation gain: 3,700 ft
Time: 6-8 hours
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash
Kid friendly? Ages 10+ depending on peak bagging experience
Fees/Permits? None

Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
The trail starts at the end of the road in S. Willow Canyon.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
You'll quickly pass the official Deseret Peak Wilderness sign. A good photo op!
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 The trail gradually gains elevation for the first 2 miles.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
At 1.6 miles you'll come to an unsigned trail split - stay left and cross the creek. This is the first and last good water stop for the dogs for the next 7 miles (until you return back down the loop).
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Across the creek is where you'll see the trail split, stay left. On your way back down the loop you'll come in from the right.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
The next mile is very shaded and green! 
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 The last 1/2 mile leading up to the saddle starts to get steeper.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 You'll hike up several steep switchbacks.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Almost to the saddle! Troy sits below the saddle because the wind was probably 50 mph! I knew there were some trees on the ridge so I quickly ran up to those instead of waiting at the saddle for everyone to catch up.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Troy leads the way. The trail will lead you up to that snow patch above his head.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Whew - super windy! The temps weren't really that bad but the wind made it feel much colder. Wished I had gloves and a beanie! Thankfully Christa had an extra headband I could borrow to keep my hair out of my face.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Looking back at the girls making their way up. I love this views of this saddle area.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Looking South from the next ridge.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Charlie now takes the lead. Past the main saddle area the wind really wasn't that bad anymore.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Stopping to look at the first couloir. 
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Finally, on the summit! It took us around 3 hours to summit.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 View to the North. Amazing! This is seriously one of my favorite peaks around the SLC area.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Once a lap dog, always a lap dog. Charlie keeps me warm on the summit.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Charlie did great! He's such a good trail dog.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Group photo! It was Julie & Terra's first peak EVER!!!! I was so excited and happy for them - they did amazing. Troy had attempted this hike three times before but due to various reason had not summited.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Time to work your way back down, creating a loop. Make sure you start hiking North to catch the trail down.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 The trail is easy to follow down. There's this one spot where you have do scramble down a little, but it's not bad. I just scooted down on my butt.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Long switchbacks on the route down. Hiking poles are super helpful here.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Eventually you'll make it to the next saddle, before dropping down into the basin. I don't usually get hungry on the summit, so I finally ate at the saddle. I love these grown up "lunchables" form Harmon's - you can find them by the cheese and salami area for about $5. Perfect for hiking!
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
On that same snow patch, Troy and I decided to boot-ski down! Here's the view from my angle....
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 ...And the view from Christa's phone!
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 Once again, you'll hike down long switchbacks.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
The views from this basin are so pretty! When you get to the next trail split, turn right. Going left will take you to Willow Lake.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
The best is saved for last! Can't get over this view of Desert Peak from the trail, looking South.

June 2014!
This first time I summited Deseret Peak was June 2014 - here's my summit photo from then. I could definitely tell a difference in my skill/cardio level this time around. I felt way more in shape, and I didn't have an asthma attack in 2018, yay! Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
  It's crazy when I look back on this first time around, and think where my life was at that time. I was in a really tough place, mentally. Things turned around in about a year and half after that, but it was rough for awhile.
Hiking to Deseret Peak, Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Climbing peaks and hiking has always helped me get through those times. One thing has always been constant - Charlie. I can't tell you how much having Charlie has helped me get through things in life - whether it's him just snuggling me, or being my trail pal, something about have a dog makes everything better. Love this little stinker!

Cheers to new adventures and getting through tough times!


Trail map



Make sure you read about all of Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks!
Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks, Hiking in Utah with Dogs

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