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
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.
After what seems like forever, you’ll be back at the campground. Make your way through it back to your car.
My stats and route via Gaia GPS (my favorite outdoor/hiking app for tracking stats). I completed the loop in just over 6 hours.