Grandeur Peak - Dragon's Tail Ridge Route - November 28, 2014

scatman

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It was such a great day here in Salt Lake today. It was sunny with temperatures in the mid sixties, so my son and I decided to hike up Grandeur Peak via the Dragon's Tail Ridge Route.

The trailhead for this route is located at the end of Wasatch Blvd just south of Parley's Canyon. This is the same trailhead for the more popular West Slope Route which we will descend today. We start hiking around 9:30 am and soon are heading south on a jeep road.

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Grandeur Peak as seen near the trailhead

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Mount Olympus and Triangle Peak

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Hiking along the Jeep road

The first two ridges you come to have trails that head up the hill, but both of these are the West Slope Route, so we continue on to the next ridge to the south. The Jeep road eventually splits and we take the left hand road as it begins to climb. Between 200 to 300 feet up the road, there is a steep unmarked trail on the left. This trail is the one we want and it will lead us past a limestone rock formation know as the Dragon's Tail on our way to the top of the mountain.

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Dragon's Tail Ridge Trail junction with Jeep road

Once on the trail, we soon came to a rock formation known as "The Reef" which is popular for beginning climbers. We worked our way around the east end of "The Reef" and up ahead you could see the western end of the Dragon's Tail.

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The Reef

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Approaching the Dragon's Tail

We hiked along the southern side of the Dragon's Tail where the trail becomes extremely steep. The formation is maybe 1/3 of a mile long and when we got to the top of it we stopped for a short break to eat an energy bar.

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Hiking along the Dragon's Tail

At this point the ridge becomes more rounded and the bushwhack through scrub oak begins. We were lucky and picked up a game trail that got us through a good portion of it.

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Making our way through the scrub oak

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About 2/3rds of the way up the mountain

Once out of the scrub oak, we found ourselves back on top of the ridge where we followed it to the summit.

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Working our way along the ridge

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Still hiking along the ridge

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Looking up towards Grandeur summit from the ridge

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Looking back down the ridge we just hiked up

Once on top, We spread out our ponchos on the snow (6 or 7 inches on top) and ate our lunches. The views from the top were great in all directions.

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Mt. Aire

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Gobbler's Knob and Mount Raymond


While we ate our lunch, we had the top to ourselves. Eventually a few other showed up to enjoy the view. We packed our gear up and headed down the West Slope Trail back to the trailhead.

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Dragon's Tail Ridge as seen from the West Slope Trail

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Grandeur Peak from the REI parking lot. You can see the Dragon's Tail formation snaking up the mountain about halfway up. Yes, I was weak and bought a REI Flash22 day pack that was on sale for $28.00 .

It's a great hike and will definitely make you work up a sweat to get to the top. Total time including lunch was 4 hours and 50 minutes.

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Bob

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Sure rub it in with nice pics...... got my calls done by about noon, was productive. Looked outside and saw it was way nice...
Now I'm really jealous ........ I can still go somewhere tomorrow.......U have somewhere else close to go in good weather?
 

Bob

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hehe ........ I know how that goes.......years ago..
 

Vegan.Hiker

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You guys in SLC don't know how good you've got it. Beautiful ridge. I bet SLC looks really cool lit up at night from up there.
 

Nick

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That looks like a fun route to Grandeur. I meant to hike it as a point-to-point earlier this year from the trailhead up Mill Creek and then down the front, but my knee wasn't cooperating.
 

Artemus

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Great hike Scat. Great big Vert!

Next up let's hike from Mt Aire to SLC over Grandeur. That one is a bushwack too :cool:
 

scatman

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That looks like a fun route to Grandeur. I meant to hike it as a point-to-point earlier this year from the trailhead up Mill Creek and then down the front, but my knee wasn't cooperating.

I've actually never descended the Dragon's Tail Route, only hiked up it and then descend down the Western Slope Trail. You'll have to let me know what the descent is like when you attempt it.


Next up let's hike from Mt Aire to SLC over Grandeur. That one is a bushwack too :cool:

Count me in! Of course we have to extend the route from Murdock Peak to Grandeur! :)
 

Artemus

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Count me in! Of course we have to extend the route from Murdock Peak to Grandeur! :)
I walked from the Lamb's canyon trailhead over Mt. Aire to SLC over Grandeur one time. It was hard. Adding in Murdock would make it tres hard. Another one I walked was from Little Mtn Pass to SLC along the ridge on the north side of Parley's canyon. That one was even harder. Ruthless bushwacking. You are talking about my backyard, mister!

I can't remember.. are you an active Wasatch Mtn Club member/hiker?
 

scatman

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@langutah - Yes, I'm an active member though I haven't hiked with them since Grandview Peak in July. One of the hike leaders told me in late September that he was going to lead a hike up the north summit of Olympus then drop down into the saddle between the north and south peaks and then climb up the south peak the first week of November which I wanted to do, but when the November schedule came out the hike was not on it. :( I'm not sure why he decided to not do it.

I've done the Parleys Ridge before (twice). If you pick up the right elk trail it can cut down on the bushwhacking a bit. If we did Murdock to Grandeur it would be an all day affair and the upper part of Millcreek Canyon doesn't open up until July which means it will most likely be hot. If you wait until things cool down in September there is not enough light left in the day. Your thoughts?
 

John Goering

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Nice day hike scatman. We bought the flash 18 a couple years back and other than the lack of a top flap, they have worked well. The 18's do get wet inside when it rains.
 

scatman

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I love the flash 18. I wish I had thought of it myself. Obviously, I use it for local day hikes, but I also take it along on my multi-day backpacking trips and use it as my pillow, stuffed with my nano puff, rain gear and extra socks and it doubles as a stuff sack when I am carrying my regular pack. I usually schedule a day hike or two on my trips and it carries my food and gear on those also. A very versatile piece of gear - highly recommended.
 

JohnP

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@scatman - I've done the west approach on Grandeur several times now ..... it's probably one of the most efficient workouts I've found that can be done on a weekday evening or even an "extended" lunch (ssshh, don't tell my boss). 3300 vert feet in 2.25 miles one way, you definitely earn that view.

With that said, I've always been curious about the rock formations to the south and "Dragon's Tail" is definitely a fitting moniker. It's officially on the list -- now I just need to figure out if I can fit it into my schedule this week (sssshhh, don't tell my boss).

THANKS!
 

scatman

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@JohnP - You're going to love this route. Just an FYI - after you get to the top of the Dragon's Tail, you'll want to drop of the ridge at the point where you'll run into a large area of scrub oak. Along the western edge of the scrub, there is a game trail that will take you through it. It might be difficult to pick up at first but you should be able to find it. Once on it, it will eventually lead you back to the ridge. If you continue along the ridge just after the Dragon's Tail, It's certainly doable but there is a lot of bushwhacking involved.

This route is easiest before the scrub oak get their leaves.

Let me know how your hike goes and what you think of the route when your done.
 

JohnP

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@scatman - I went up Dragon's Tail yesterday and it was pretty much awesome. I loved being on Grandeur and not seeing a single human for the entire trek up. Also - a totally different perspective / experience on that route. The "reef" and "Dragon's Tail" rock formations were pretty impressive too -- I don't think I appreciated their size from a distance.

I ended up hugging the ridge most of the route and was definitely in the "thick of it" for most of scrub oak area, which you warned against. What can I say? I enjoy getting beat-up by mother nature on occasion.

Anyway - definitely a fun route and one I'll likely do again ..... perhaps next time, taking your advice on the western game trail. Below is an image of my tracks from the hike

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scatman

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@JohnP - Glad you enjoyed the route! I like your image of the route also. It looks like you had to backtrack a little at the first. You know I've done this route eight or nine times and the only other people I have ever seen other than those I'm hiking with were two bow hunters last year about a third of the way from the top. Are the scrub oak getting their leaves yet up high? Did you think this route was as steep as the West Slope? With all the rain we've been getting these last few weekends, I've been relegated to the stationary bike instead of hiking. :(
 

JohnP

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@scatman - apologies for the delayed response. The scrub oak was not filled in 100% but was definitely starting to fill in. I imagine that section only gets more "enjoyable" as the spring / summer progresses. The Dragon's Tail route definitely didn't seem as steep but after looking at my GPS tracks, both routes are very comparable from a max slope (56%) & avg slope perspective (27%), which aren't perfect measurements but decent indicators. I chalk it up to the fact that I was in a new environment and didn't notice the steepness as much as the standard Western approach.

Side question (maybe for @Nick too) - what are the general "rules" on posting trip reports for popular / common hikes like this where there are already trip reports in place? Is that discouraged?
 

scatman

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Side question (maybe for @Nick too) - what are the general "rules" on posting trip reports for popular / common hikes like this where there are already trip reports in place? Is that discouraged?

@JohnP - I know it doesn't matter to me if you post a report on a popular hike that has already had a trip report posted. I enjoy seeing reports that are done at different times of the year or even different times of the day for that matter. I think it allows for different perspectives of the same hike. What you find interesting about the hike might be different than what I do. Plus, at least in my case, I'm not the best trip report writer in the world and I know others can add descriptive narratives and images from the hike that I wouldn't consider.

Last year I posted reports on hiking up Mount Olympus for three straight weeks in an attempt to get in shape to hike Wildcat Ridge.

It would be interesting to see what others on this forum think about this.
 

IntrepidXJ

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Side question (maybe for @Nick too) - what are the general "rules" on posting trip reports for popular / common hikes like this where there are already trip reports in place? Is that discouraged?

I would say it would be encouraged, not discouraged! Everyone has a different experience and it's nice to see the different perspectives of the same trail.
 

Vegan.Hiker

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Plus remember, what's common for people from one region, is fresh and new for those from other regions. None of the stuff out west is "common" for guys like me from out east. I've literally been blown away by pictures of people's back yards on here.
 
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