Lone Peak (11,251 ft) is one of the tallest peaks along the Wasatch Front, and hovers over Draper, Utah. You can’t miss this peak – it is clearly visible from both Salt Lake & Utah Counties.
On a clear day, you can see this magnificent summit from 100 miles away. Hiking Lone Peak is almost a rite of passage for many hikers and especially Peak Baggers. Although Lone Peak is not one of Utah’s 8 Ultra Prominence Peaks, it does rank 98th on a list of Utah Peaks with 500 ft of prominence and is on the list of the Wastach 11ers (peaks over 11,000 ft). This intense hike is not for everyone – you must be very prepared for any kind of weather, and most importantly, prepared for a super intense hike that will literally take you all day. The hard work will be worth it though, as Lone Peak offers one of the best 360 degree views around.
You can actually hike to Lone Peak from five different routes.
1. The Cherry Canyon Logging Trail
The Cherry Canyon Logging Trail offers a year-round spring and directly leads you to the Outlaw Cabin. It starts from the Orson Smith Park/Trailhead. The trail is very scenic and alternates between exposed and shaded areas. This trail is the route I will be describing below.
2. Jacob’s Ladder Trail
This is the most popular route to Lone Peak, and is the shortest route, and also the route that starts the highest up in elevation. You do need a 4×4 car to reach the TH along the dirt road. The winter gate closes at the first snowfall through July 1st.
3. Trail of the Eagle
This is the newest route to Lone Peak, which leads you to the peak via the Little Willow Drainage. It’s the least scenic of all the routes, but it is an option.
4. The Schoolhouse Springs Trail
The route climbs up a south facing slope, so temperatures can get hot during the Summer months. The trail starts from the small town of Alpine, Utah.
5. Bells Canyon Trail
This route leads you past Bell’s Canyon Waterfall, past the upper reservoir, and leads you to find your own route to the summit of Lone Peak. This is the longest route of all the options, but incredibly scenic.
When is the best time to hike Lone Peak?
The best time is late July through October. This year, 2016, happened to be super dry and warm in November so we were able to summit safely on Nov. 7th. Plan on a very early start to beat the heat in the middle of Summer.
Can I bring my dog?
No, dogs are not allowed in the Lone Peak Wilderness due to watershed rules/laws.
Is this a good hike for kids?
How much water should I carry?
A minimum of 3 liters of water. On hot days, you should drink more. If you hike up the Cherry Logging Trail there is a year-round spring to filter water from.
How long will it take me to do this hike?
From the Cherry Logging Trail, it takes most hikers 3-3.5 hours to reach the Outlaw Cabin, and roughly 6 hours to the summit. It took us 10 hours total (RT). Friends who have hiked up via Jacob’s Ladder say it only took them 3-4 hours to summit. It all depends on your fitness level, hiking ability, how much weight you are carrying in your pack, and weather.
I’m afraid of heights – can I still get to the summit?
The only scary section is the very last 100 yards or so. I have done a lot of scrambling and over 100 peaks, and I almost didn’t make it to the summit. I needed help and motivation from my partner.
To get to the Cherry Canyon Logging Trail, you first need to get to the Orson Smith TH in Draper, UT. From SLC, head south on I-15 and take exit 291. Head East on 123rd South for 1.4 miles. Turn Right on 900 South, then Left on Pioneer Road. Continue straight around the Round-a-Bout. Turn Right on 2000 East. In 0.2 miles you will see the Orson Smith Park/TH on your Left. This is where you will park. There are restrooms available. The Cherry Logging Trail starts to the left (North) and behind the restrooms up a set of stairs. Here is a driving map.
Distance: 15 miles RT
Elevation gain: 6,500 ft
Time: 8-12 hours
Dog friendly? No, dogs are not allowed
Kid friendly? No
Locate the TH to the left of the restrooms, and behind the info sign.
We were on the trail hiking at 8:15am. We forgot about the time change – I wished we had started early to be hiking during sunrise.
You will see this sign that says dogs are allowed but must be leashed. This is true for this section of the BST (Bonneville Shoreline Trail), but are not allowed once on the official Cherry Logging Trail.
Hike up 4-5 easy switchbacks.
Once you reach the large wide road, called the Aqueduct Trail, turn left. Then follow the signs to reach the BST. More switchbacks.
At the next “T” you have reached the BST. Turn Left, following the sign for the Cherry Logging Trail, which is only about 75 yards away.
This is your major trail split that you can’t miss. You should see the sign for the Cherry Canyon Logging Trail and NO DOGS. Turn right (East) – the adventure now begins!
Work your way up another 6-7 steep switchbacks. The trail will level out for about 100 yards (already a relief!), and briefly crosses Cherry Canyon, then aims up again.
TIP: Using hiking poles will help significantly and help protect your knees and hips and help you on the uphill.
The sun slowly makes is over into Draper, Utah with a great view across the valley to Flat Top Mountain at the end of the Oquirrh Mountains.
Just when you can’t take anymore switchbacks….there are about another 50 ahead of you.
We reached this nice view point of Bear Canyon in about 1.5 hours. That ridge across the way is the Trail of the Eagle route.
The trail wraps around the hillside, and again, offers a little relief from the steep hiking. The next 0.5 mile is relatively flat as it makes its way to a very small saddle, and again climbs uphill. Eventually you will reach the high point in the center of this photo.
You can finally see where you are headed – the peaks to the left in the very far distance! Lone Peak is so close, yet so far away.
At 3.9 miles you’ll reach an obvious trail split marked by a cairn and stick in the middle. Stay left. Distance wise, you are half way. Time wise, you still have another 4 hours of hiking from here.
The trail drops into Bear Canyon for a little bit. This section is very forested and shaded. You’ll pass one of the year-round springs to filter water. Climbing out of Bear Canyon will require about 10 more switchbacks. As soon as you climb out of Bear Canyon, you should see the Trail of the Eagle intersect the Cherry Logging Trail coming from the left (West). Stay on the main trail.
Looking back on a pretty meadow.
We reached the Outlaw Cabin in 3 hours 15 minutes. The Allen Brothers built this cabin in 1960 before this areas was designated as a wilderness area.
The Cherry Logging Trail continues to the right (south) of the cabin, and steeply gains elevation through a thickly forested section. In about 15 minutes you should reach another ridge.
“Enjoy it, Don’t destroy it” is etched onto one of the logs, but quite frankly, the cabin was pretty run down. Tarps strewn about, beer cans lay all over the floor on the inside, paper shreds, and other trash lined the inside. I wish I would have had more room in my pack to take the trash down. If anyone heads up this year, please take at least one piece of trash down to the TH with you…this cabin needs some cleaning if it’s going to last.
15 minutes or so past the Outlaw Cabin you will reach a small ridge, The trail continues left along the base of what looks like a fingered, granite ridge.
Working our way along the base of the fingered ridge. The trail is well marked by cairns, leading up to the next small ridge, just to the right of this high point.
Working our way up to the next ridge…
Can I tell you how much I freaking love BUFFS?! Kept the sweat and hair out of my face, but of course, I got a super sexy headband sunburn LOL.
My partner leads the way though the boulder fields.
TIP: Don’t wear shoes that have the tread worn down. Shoes with full tread will help you grip the granite. We both wore our Altra Lone Peaks.
At the base of Lone Peak.
Following the cairns, it led us up a small drainage that was pretty easy to maneuver. We didn’t take the “chimney” drainage up that you hear of. This one was less steep of an incline.
Looking down into the basin we hiked through.
To reach the summit, the easiest way is to follow the North ridge. There was some remaining snow from a few weeks ago, but nothing so deep that we needed microspikes. You should clearly be able to see Broads Fork Twin Peaks.
Climbing the steep hill…so close to the summit!
This is a good spot to drop your pack so you can hike lighter and faster to the summit. It will make for an easier scramble as well. If you do decide to keep your pack on, make sure everything is zipped into a pocket. Sunglasses, snack bars, or anything on the outside of your pack can easily fall out. Don’t forget to put your camera in your pocket if you leave your pack behind.
I kept telling myself not to look down, but I couldn’t help it. I’m not afraid of heights, but this was a bit scary looking straight down. I was so amazed that we hiked up from the valley floor to here! Only a few feet to go…
Made it to the summit!!!! Photo by @iBoyer.
This is looking East. Lone Peak’s south summit is to the right.
Official USGS summit marker! Woot woot!
Admiring the granite slabs.
Trail stats half way through the hike, on the summit. It took just over 6 hours to summit. And to think….we were only halfway done. We still had to hike down the mountain. By this point I was so exhausted, and were running out of daylight, but you don’t have a choice – keep moving. We literally stayed on the peak for less than 10 minutes.
Hiking back down to the car during sunset.
On the way down we got to see this guy flying his para-glider.
We got back to the car in exactly 10 HOURS! Wow. My legs were soooo done. 6 hours up, 4 hours down. Three days later as I write this, my calves are still extremely tight and sore. Definitely one of the toughest hikes and peaks I have done in a long time. I would say my other top two hardest peaks were Broads Fork Twin Peaks via Robinson’s Variation and Ibapah Peak.
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