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Deseret Peak, Tooele Utah
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Overview
Location

Stansbury Mountains , Tooele, Utah

Sights

Deer, awesome vistas, birch and aspen groves, drunk hunters.

Distance

8.4 miles

Parking Lot Elevation

7,430ft

Summit Elevation

11,031ft

Elevation Gain/Loss

3,960ft (accumulated total)

Time Required

3 - 7hrs

Pets

Yes

Fees

Camping $26 sometimes

Water Info

2+ liters. Small streams along third of the hike.

Best Season

September - October

Hours

Any

Sun Exposure

Moderate - Extreme

Trail Condition

Clearly designated. A few deadfalls.

Restrooms

At campsites and trailhead.

Visitor Center

None

Camping

Yes. Lower and top most campgrounds are trailer appropriate.

Food

Various edible plants. Or Grantsville Diners. I chose the plants!

Equipment

Outdoor Research Halo Hat (ended up soaked)
Stoic Bombshell jacket (stayed dry!)
Smart wool half zip sweater
Columbia long sleeve shirt
Columbia Pants (soaked)
Smartwool hiking socks (stayed dry)
Oboz Tamarack low-top hikers (stayed dry)
Seirus gloves (soaked)

Dakine Pro II backpack (soaked)
Lek trekking poles.
iphone
GoalZero battery for phone
headlamp
first-aid kit
40ft of paracord
small knife

Deseret Peak was an incredible experience the first time I hiked it, back in 2009. It was challenging, but not too hard. And the views were very rewarding. As was the sense of solitude; not too many people make their way out to Grantsville to hike this.

So when my wife mentioned she had always wanted to hike Deseret Peak, I couldn’t resist taking her and a friend. This time the weather turned on us and we got to experience the mountain in a little more technical way.

GPS Coordinates:

Trailhead/End:40º 29.029′ N, 112º 36.420′ W
Saddle Ridge:40º 27.424′ N, 112º 36.880′ W
Deseret Peak:40º 27.571′ N, 112º 37.580′ W
Last Saddle:40º 28.850′ N, 112º 37.782′ W

Trail Map



Driving Directions



The Trail:

Deseret Peak is visible from parts of the Wasatch front. If you are in the Bountiful to Kaysville area you can see it clearly most days. It is the tallest peak in the Stansbury range, the next mountains west of the Oquirrhs. Heading west on I-80, you can see it as soon as you pass Magna, and round the point past the Kennecott Smelter.

Driving to Deseret Peak, the highest peak in the central of the photo.

Driving to Deseret Peak, the highest peak in the center of the photo.

The road is paved as you head into South Willow Canyon, but quickly turns into well-maintained dirt.

Awesome Limestone Cliffs

Awesome Limestone Cliffs

The canyon is beautiful and has many little campgrounds tucked in along the creek at the feet of some pretty interesting cliffs. If you go in early October, the trees will be changing colors. My wife was shocked that a canyon this beautiful could be found out in the Tooele area.

This, and the many other beautiful canyons are a secret. So don’t tell anyone.

1st Slot Choke Point

1st Slot Choke Point

While the drive is not bad from Salt Lake, we wanted to camp. Just past the first slot canyon section of Willow Canyon, you come to two campsites accessed by bridges crossing the creek. These two campsites are incredible! There are pit toilets, picnic tables, and fire pits with cooking grills. The first bridge actually has two sites, though you have to walk through the first site’s fire pit area to reach the second (which is in the trees down to the right in the picture below).

Great Campsite.

Great Campsite.

Camping puts you a mile or so from the trailhead so in the morning you can easily get an early start. Which is not at all what we did. We slept in and had a lazy breakfast. But it is the thought that counts, right?

 

A busy trailhead

A busy trailhead

During the night my wife heard many cars go up the road. I told her she must have been dreaming. Very few people use this canyon and no one drives up it in the middle of the night.

Then we got to the trailhead. She was right. Turns out that if you choose to do this hike on the opening day of the Deer hunt it will be very busy! There were people with rifles everywhere!

Deseret-006

Fun game: watch our clothing and how it changes as the hike progresses and the weather deteriorates.

Enjoying the gradual start to the ascent.

Enjoying the gradual start to the ascent.

The trail begins a gradual climb but then becomes a consistent but not too strenuous steepness. Within a mile the trail forks. Go left. It is the less steep approach to Deseret Peak (and the sign says Deseret Peak.) The other direction is to Willow Lake, and the loop route we took to return to the trailhead.

Fall colors

Fall colors

In October, the colors are great. And better yet, the temperature is tolerable. Our hike was in the 50ºs for the first part, until the cold front hit.

The beautiful Mill Fork. I love this basin!

The beautiful Mill Fork. I love this basin!

As the trail winds up Mill Fork, the views are wonderful. Mill Fork is a very nice little basin. There are several small places you could camp if you wanted to. The wind is mild.

The view as we near the ridge.

The view as we near the ridge. Stansbury “Island” and in the distance Antelope Island.

We made sure to keep looking down the basin to enjoy the views. Looking out may be more heartening than looking up.

You can get a feel for how steep it gets.

You can get a feel for how steep it gets.

Near the end of Mill Fork, as the trail climbs out of the basin and onto the ridge, it becomes very steep. This is by far the steepest and hardest section of the hike. But it is a short distance and not too bad. Again, at this point I was very happy to have cooler temperatures. We could hear the wind roaring ominously above us. It grew louder as we neared the ridge line.

Starting the climb around the back and to the top of Deseret.

Starting the climb around the back and to the top of Deseret.

We stopped to eat and stretch a bit right before reaching the ridge. As soon as we topped the ridge, the wind was very strong and the temperature dropped noticeably. It was no longer pleasant to stop moving.

On the ridge the trail splits again. Follow the sign, which points to the right (north).

So close, but the clouds are coming!

So close, but the clouds are coming!

The trail winds around the back of the peak and climbs at a decent pitch to the summit. The wind got stronger and a light rain started. In the distance I could see the clouds dropping quickly. I knew the cold front was here and we were too late to reach to top before our view was gone.

So this is the best view we had, from right below the summit. You can see the clouds dropping in. In a matter of minutes we went from cloudy but clear, to solid fog.

The view from almost to the top.

The view from almost to the top.

We layered on more clothes, and continued to fight our way to the top.

The summit was nice, though very cloudy with low visibility. We were in good spirits and the rain had not hit to strongly yet.

King of the mountain.

King of the mountain.

But the wind was strong and the temperature had dropped drastically. We were freezing and decided not hang out on the summit.

The Return:

There are two ways back from Deseret Peak. You can go back the way you came, or you can make the loop by continuing on the trail heading north along the ridge. This adds around a mile to your hike and will give you fresh views (if you are not in the clouds).

Heading down in the rain.

Heading down switchbacks in the rain.

As we hiked along the ridge the storm hit in ernest. The rest of the way down we were in a strong rain. One thing we had not counted on was how slippery the muddy trail would become. Our descent took far longer than planned because of how carefully we had to move to keep from slipping and falling. It was very steep, very wet, and very cold. Instead of speeding down the mountain, we ended up crawling slowly.

Burned trees from an old fire, most likely lightening caused.

Burned trees from an old fire, most likely lightening caused.

The trail runs for  close to 2 miles along the ridge. You lose a lot of elevation and gain some in a one place. The trail runs through many burned old forests. In the fog and rain it was pretty surreal.

Descending the ridge.

Descending the ridge.

I call this the tiger leaf.

I call this the tiger leaf.

After reaching the second saddle you come to, you drop down into the small basin called Pocket’s Fork. The trail drops quickly, flattens out in a meadow, and then drops down into Dry Lake Fork.

Pockets Fork, about to drop into Dry Lake Fork.

Pockets Fork, about to drop into Dry Lake Fork.

Great Colors in Dry Lake Fork.

Great Colors in Dry Lake Fork.

You are low enough that you get back into some good forests. Again, the colors are great. There were a couple of places we found that if you wanted, you could stop under a tree and get away from the train. But we were far too cold to stop.

Deseret-025

We finished the loop a little soggy and ready for the car heater. We bundled up in our dry clothes from the day before and had lunch in our car with the heat on full. It felt great!


Personal Thoughts:

Despite the bitter cold and strong rain, we all had a good time. Our spirits were not quite as bright when we finally made it off the mountain, but it was still worth it. Deseret Peak is set in a beautiful mountain range that is well worth the visit.

I’ve now done this hike twice and you know, I already plan on doing it again in another couple of years. It is really good! Next time, if there is a chance for rain, I would pack rain pants for sure!

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Difficulty
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The Bottom Line

Difficulty is basically the length, duration and stress of the Trek. If the Trek is really long then it will receive a higher rating. If the Trek is short then it won't receive that high of a rating. However, difficulty rating also includes how tired we were at the end of the Trek.

Technicality is how strenuous the Trek is. If there is lots of bouldering or if there is bushwhacking involved then the rating will be higher. Technicality also includes if there are steep inclines or the need for ropes and other equipment.

Enjoyment is strictly how much fun we had doing the Trek. Regardless of how tired and exhausted we were, if we had a ton of fun doing the Trek then it will receive a higher rating.

8.0
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About The Author
Hawkeye-TP
A man of adventure and generally swell guy. He was born, and has been winging it since then. Trevor@thetrekplanner.com

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