Sunday, June 10, 2018

Grandview Peak

One of my goals for this summer is to spend some time hiking in less visited parts of the Wasatch Range outside of the Cottonwoods.

With the cool change arriving on schedule, today was a perfect day to go for a mid-elevation summit in the northern Wasatch.  We elected to bag Grandview Peak, which is the highest point above City Creek Canyon and the most prominent summit between Francis Peak and Murdock Peak, yet seldom visited.

There are a number of potential routes to the summit including from Big Mountain Pass via the Great Western Trail, biking up City Creek and trying to get to it via City Creek Canyon, and from Bountiful to Mueller Park, and then up the ridge above Rudy's Flat.  All of these looked very long and painful.  As such we drove up Skyline Drive out of Bountiful and then Forest Service Road 815, which heads southward along the Wasatch Crest.  We elected to stop just short of the Pipeline Crossing at around 8400 feet, but probably could have pushed my CRV another mile if we were feeling more sporty.  A quick note that the Skyline Drive out of Bountiful is considered passable for passenger cars, but it is in pretty poor shape right now.

After walking along the Forest Service Road and then the jeep trail, one gets to the single-track section of the Great Western Trail in Upper Holbrook Canyon.  Ascending out of Holbrook Canyon takes you through some beautiful forest, including this aspen grove.

I've heard rumors that this part of the Wasatch is pretty snowy for it's elevation.  Snow was scant today, but we found a few patches.

Eventually, one reaches a 9000 foot pass in the Sessions Mountains.  At this point you get your first glimpse of Grandview Peak, with the central Wasatch in the distance.

To get to Grandview, one does a long circumbobulation near the crest of the Sessions.  This is beautiful terrain, somewhat reminiscent of the Wasatch Crest Trail, but without bicycles and people.  We saw only 2 people all day once on the single track Great Western Trail, which in some places is really just a herd path.

Getting to Grandview requires southwestward jaunt off the Great Western Trail near the divide between Mill Creek and City Creek.  We didn't have much trouble finding it, but the trail up Grandview fades in and out.  The general route is, however, fairly easy to follow.

The summit is at 9410 feet and provides great views in all directions.  The view below is looking down upper Cottonwood Gulch and then City Creek Canyon.  In winter and spring, this gulch holds the prominent snowfield that looks so inviting from downtown Salt Lake City.

Here's the view toward the central Wasatch, showing quite nicely the high terrain surrounding the Cottonwoods and the decline in height as one moves eastward toward Park City.  An odd aspect of the central Wasatch is that the highest terrain is not on the hydrologic divide, but instead west of it, and this is important for understanding the distribution of snowfall.  I kept wondering how cool it would be to operate a scanning radar from this location (not that I'd deface the summit to do that).

A few more views on the hike out of the northern Wasatch, the Sessions Mountains, and the Oquirrh and Stansbury Mountains down Mill Creek Canyon (how many Mill Creeks and Twin Peaks are there in this mountain range?).  

According to my phone, total distance round trip from our starting point was about 12.5 miles.  A medium duty vehicle is probably needed to get to that point.  You could shorten it a bit if you push it farther, have a higher clearance vehicle, or opt to mountain bike the first part of the route.  

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