great first trek in Utah?

Dustin Gent

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Jun 22, 2015
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So my wife and i are moving from Portland to Salt Lake City next month so she can go to grad school.

A little about myself. I grew up in Oregon, and have lived here for 20 years. I am an avid photographer, so ALL my backpacking trips are planned around photography. I also happen to work at REI, so i have "some" gear.

So I need some suggestions/advice. What would be a killer (not literally :) ) first trip - either day or overnight, close to SLC? I am really stoked about the mountains you guys have there! Forgive me if you see me post some dumb questions posted from time to time.. :(

I seriously have a notebook with locations written down of places I want to visit soon.

Thanks for the help!

Dustin
 

andyjaggy

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Hey Dustin. Good to see you here.

It's hard to come up with a list of favorites, there are so many good spots.

I would suggest Timpanogos as your first trip. It's probably the most crowded trail in the Wasatch, but it's also one of the prettiest alpine areas in the Wasatch. If you do it on a weekday it shouldn't be too bad. Unfortunately mid August may be a tad late for the wildflowers up there.

Mid August I might also suggest going up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Alta, and hiking some of the trail up there. Either up to Cecret Lake, or up to Sunset Peak, or Twin Lakes, Catherine Lake, etc.... tons of options from that one area.
 
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LarryBoy

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Ensign Peak is amazing! The distinct elements - the squabbling children, the lung-choking pollution, the squabbling parents, the crowded trail, and the mediocre vistas - combine to make it one of Utah's premier wilderness experiences! Give it a go!

But seriously, Timp mid-week would be a great choice, as would be the the Pfeifferhorn (depending on how comfortable you are with a teensy bit of exposure). Or you could go on an overnight trip in the Uintas - Amethyst Lake is stunning, and there's always the classic choice of Kings Peak via Henrys Fork.
 

regehr

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DSC01940.jpg
Red Pine Lake would be a great first hike -- I was up there this morning and it was perfect. Cecret Lake is IMO best reserved for hiking with visitors who aren't big hikers. Timp is a lot to bite off unless you're in shape, and absolutely do not do it on a Saturday. Get Veranth's book as soon as you get here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1607813254/?tag=backcountrypo-20
 

Dustin Gent

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thanks everyone! I am a seasoned backpacker, but may do this with my wife - who has been on a "few" adventures with me. Keep the advice coming!
 

andyjaggy

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Lake Blanche. If you want something easier than Timp, but still want to get a very good feel for what these mountains offer, I think you can't get much better than Lake Blanche.
 

regehr

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For backpacking, definitely Uintas. The Wasatch has a small handful of nice short backpacking routes but I prefer them early season.
 

andyjaggy

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Multi day backpacking trips in the Wasatch are pretty rare, but there are quite a few nice overnight spots. Another option would be to head out to Deseret Peak. More of a drive but you will find solitude.
 

Mark

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overnighter?...I second Lake Blanche. The dayhikers really thin out near sunset which is the most spectacular time to be there
 

regehr

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My favorite Wasatch backpack started at the White Pine trailhead, spent a night in upper Maybird (not many good sites up there, but there are a few), then across Hogum and over to Thunder Bowl, a second night in upper Bells, then out the next morning. Amazing country up there and not really any people. Very rugged. Crossing Hogum might not be much fun without snow, it's just a boulder ocean. Fast people could do this as a day hike but it would be a pretty long day.
 

LarryBoy

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My favorite Wasatch backpack started at the White Pine trailhead, spent a night in upper Maybird (not many good sites up there, but there are a few), then across Hogum and over to Thunder Bowl, a second night in upper Bells, then out the next morning. Amazing country up there and not really any people. Very rugged. Crossing Hogum might not be much fun without snow, it's just a boulder ocean. Fast people could do this as a day hike but it would be a pretty long day.
A friend of mine got turned around in Hogum, not because it was too hard, but because there was just too much rockfall danger. Early season would definitely be better.

Is there a trip report anywhere or your journey?
 

regehr

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A friend of mine got turned around in Hogum, not because it was too hard, but because there was just too much rockfall danger. Early season would definitely be better.

Is there a trip report anywhere or your journey?

Hogum is an amazing place, I've only been there in spring and never saw much rockfall. But I've only been there about 3 times since it's such a pain to get to. I keep wanting to visit in summer to take a look at the plane wreckage. I didn't write a TR but you can find a few pics here:

http://www.summitpost.org/white-pine-to-bells-wasatch-utah/203963

The key is to find the right notch between Hogum and Thunder Bowl. I recall it was mainly class 2 with a section of not-too-scary class 3. It's also kind of scrambly getting out of Thunder Bowl, we made a poor choice and had a bad time of it. The obvious notch behind Bell's Cleaver is the right answer.
 

WasatchWill

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The Wasatch can be pretty diverse, offering a sample of all that makes Utah so great. From bits of barren desert, to high alpine granite peaks and lakes, to red rock sandstone, hoodoos, and yes, even an arch or two.

That said, my favorites (with TR's linked) for an overnight are currently Timpanogos (preferably not on a Friday night) and as of last year, Lake Hardy. I enjoy the Brighton Lakes too but it's hard to look anywhere without seeing signs of ski resorts all over the place. I've yet to get up to Lake Blanche or the Red and White Pine Lakes around Thunder Mountain down in Little Cottonwood, but they are on my list. I don't think you could go wrong with any of these. There are many other areas up and down the Wasatch worthy of an overnighter, IMO, especially in the early season and fall. From my perception, I would dare say that Timpanogos or "Timp" as many of us locals call it and Sundial Peak accompanying Lake Blanche are the two most photographed landmarks of the Wasatch Mountains, at least among professional prints for sale.

Just about any spot you can spend the night in the Wasatch can be done as a day hike. Down the road you could get creative if you ever wanted to do multiple nights. My wife and I did a 65 mile route from Park City to Provo last year in 4 days. Just know that given how close the Wasatch range is to the urban areas of SLC-Ogden-Provo, virtually all of the really scenic trails and destinations will see a lot of traffic through the season, especially on weekends and holidays. If you really want to escape the crowds you can always get more adventurous such as @regehr and go off trail and scramble the ridges with some moderate to sometimes severe exposure.

A 90 minute drive can take you up into the Uintas which offer countless more options and are a local favorite among many of us here on BCP. Trip reports on areas up there are plentiful around here.
 

Dustin Gent

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thanks Will! I think I saw your youtube video posted a few weeks back, think it was you. You made pizza in the video? Sweet video
 

WasatchWill

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thanks Will! I think I saw your youtube video posted a few weeks back, think it was you. You made pizza in the video? Sweet video

Yep. Thanks. That must have been one of my first ever attempts at a trip video back when we did Middle Basin in the Uintas.
 
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