NOTE: This is the second in a series of three hikes that will take beginner hikers to the top of a mountain. Read part one of the series here. Check back next week for part three of this journey, where we go back to Salt Lake County and take on a genuine peak (I had to try this hike two times before I finally got to the top — but it was worth it!).
My infatuation with the Wasatch Range began with the peaks that frame the Salt Lake Valley, but there’s a lot more to these mountains if you’re willing to travel a bit north or south. I discovered this when I realized the drive up Big or Little Cottonwood canyons on a powder day was, I believe, one of Dante’s concentric rings of hell and started skiing at Snowbasin Resort.
For this hike, we’ll go there and find a long but relatively gentle trail that ascends (nearly) to the top of Sardine Peak.
I chose this hike because if you are like me (a beginner who has only recently gained the ability to run 1 mile), distance isn’t the issue when getting to the top of a mountain. It’s the prolonged uphill parts.
This hike gets you close to the top of a mountain without too many steep inclines. And, even if you don’t make it all the way to the top there are some incredible views along the way, like the short spur that takes you to an Ogden Canyon lookout point. It’s also a well-shaded route, which comes in handy when you want to get outdoors in the summer.
The Hike • The hike begins at the Maples Trailhead in the lowest lot of Snowbasin’s Maples parking area. It’s well-marked and your GPS should get there just fine if you look up the trailhead.
The hike begins through a gate and past some informational signs as you head up a dirt road toward the old Maples campground. You’ll see lots of flies and dragonflies. Some butterflies. There are lots of birds chirping. I didn’t wear bug spray, and the flies were annoying, but they mostly left me alone.
As you walk, about eight-tenths of a mile in, you’ll enter a clearing and get a nice view of Sardine Peak in front of you. Keep going. Mountain bikers frequent this trail and have carved single-track trails throughout. Avoid those and stick to the wider trail.
Your next waypoint is a single picnic table and a wooden sign that point straight ahead, toward Ogden Canyon Overlook and Sardine Peak trail. Follow it forward for about 2 miles through a mostly shaded area with a few switchbacks.
You’ll exit the forested area and see a sign to your left. The 1-mile spur takes you off the trail to Sardine Peak and to the Ogden Canyon overlook. Follow that if you want, or save your legs for the rest of the hike to the peak
Continue toward the peak along the saddle. This part of the hike is much more exposed but the views of Mt. Ogden behind you and Sardine Peak in front of you are very nice. Just beware the sun.
Keep going. There’s a nice overlook to the west as you go further. As you get closer to the peak, you’ll begin to ascend again and you’ll hit some more shade. Follow the series of small switchbacks until you get to a landing point at the southeast side of the peak. Through some trees is a sliver of a trail that takes you around the peak. That short ascent through overgrown grasses and foliage gives you a glimpse of Pineview Reservoir. Keep going, and you’ll see Ogden framed by some pine trees. This maintained trail doesn’t get all the way to the peak, but you can get there if you scramble and bushwhack up a steep social trail that spurs off the high-point of this trail on the northwest side. I tried and wouldn’t recommend it. You get pretty great views without.
Once you’ve taken in the surroundings, head back down the way you came. If you’re looking to add a bit more distance you can continue on the path you were on and make a loop out of it. Follow it down, get more nice views of Pineview Reservoir. You’ll hit the series of switchbacks. The trail fork at the junction with the Wheeler Creek trail. If you’re coming down, take the trail to the right of the fork and you’ll pop out on the dirt road you started on. Follow it back to your car.
Region: Snowbasin/ Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
Destination: Peak and multiple overlooks
Distance: 7.9 miles
Time: 3 hours
Elevation gain: 1,415 feet
Restrooms: Yes, at the Snowbasin Resort Learning Center, open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Dogs allowed: Yes, on-leash
Bikes allowed: Yes