If you are looking for a conveniently close adventure offering amazing views and astonishing heights, Grandeur Peak will pleasantly please you.
You can find Grandeur Peak in the heart of Millcreek Canyon, making its way to the western side of the mountains and overlooking the Salt Lake Valley and even Mountain Dell and Little Dell reservoirs. The hike is 5.4 miles roundtrip, and it took us about 5 hours; but we walked S-L-O-W. You will gain about 2,387 feet in elevation making some portions quite steep.
On a warm sunny Sunday in May, we ventured up the mountain, excited to say we hiked this popular trail. To access the trail, follow Millcreek Canyon up to the Church Fork picnic area, and park on the side of the road. This is a popular destination and there are very limited parking spaces inside the picnic area. Walk through the picnic areas and continue up the trail until you see a sign that says Grandeur Peak. You will pass through property owned by the Boy Scouts of America, deeded to them in 1918.
As you head upward and onward through the small side canyon that is Church Fork, you will become increasingly exposed as the trees thin out. On the side of the mountain you will have a great view of the summit and quite possibly some squiggly wildlife like snakes and lizards. Be careful and watch out for dangerous animals like rattlesnakes, which are quite plentiful in Millcreek Canyon in the summer.
Eventually on this trail you will encounter some switchbacks, each one increasing the amazing view offered of the entire canyon. In May the plants were a beautiful shade of deep green and the breeze was a refreshing cool temperature in contrast to the sunny exposed mountain.
As you ascend, you will see a false summit close to the real summit a little further up. This is a great place to stop and take in the view, but it pales in comparison to the actual summit. Although from here the trail becomes very steep but it is definitely worth the cardio output.
Take a while to enjoy the view while you stand on the top of the world (or so it feels). Don’t forget to pack an inordinate amount of water- we ran out (embarassing…)- and be sure to document your adventure with some staggering pictures that you can show your jealous coworkers on Monday.
While you are in the neighborhood of Millcreek Canyon, swing by REI, a dandy place that is a hiker’s Heaven. You can find a wealth of information there about more adventures you can take in the nearby area, and you can buy basically anything you can think of to supply yourself with preparations to last you in case of an extended stay on the mountain.