Sitting at 8,299 ft., Grandeur Peak overlooks the Wasatch Front and bounds Millcreek Canyon to the north. With parking immediately off of the northern terminus of Wasatch Boulevard, the West Grandeur Trail gives hikers the quickest access to a truly scenic peak at the cost of a fairly steep climb.
The West Grandeur Peak Trail, along with the Mt. Wire Trail, is one of the classic intermediate early-season Wasatch peak-bagging hikes. From car to car, the West Grandeur Peak Trail runs almost exactly five miles, during which you will cover about 3,300 ft. in elevation gain, give or take a few. The trail is fun, very accessible, and along the way gives you stunning views of Parley's Canyon and the Wasatch Front. While just about anyone can hike Grandeur, you should take care about when and how you hike it due to the steepness of the trail, the loose rocks on the steepest pitches, and the trail's exposure. In summer months during the afternoon, the west-facing ridgeline that you hike becomes a kind of skillet set on one end with very few trees taller than juniper to provide shade. Loose rocks on the steeper portions recommend aggressive hiking shoes or trekking poles. After a mile and a half, slab rocks surrounded by juniper and pinyon pine provide comfortable places to rest for those climbing or descending. Your knees will thank you for whatever help you can give them on the way down. But if you can find a few hours at a good time of day, the West Grandeur Trail is worth the climb.
During the winter, trail-runners and snowshoers pack the West Grandeur Peak Trail down and it can be scaled with spikes even in deep snow years. While the west face means that much of the trail until the upper mile becomes a sheet of ice, it isn't so daunting that spikes and poles can't keep you upright. Keep your eyes out for mule deer, moose, elk, and mountain lions, which tend to gravitate down the slopes through the winter. Mule deer in particular congregate along the north-facing slopes across the drainage to the south. During an inversion, when warmer air is held above cooler air, the hike puts you well above the inversion layer, giving you the surreal experience of walking through the clouds. You may even chance seeing a brockengespenst (a phenomenon where one can see his shadow surrounded by halo-like rings of light) as you break through them. The air above is clear, blue as it gets, and bright. The mountains poke out from the clouds like little islands in a sea. It's pretty cool. Come prepared for quick changes in the weather, as the sheer height of the peak means that what is happening in the valley as you leave the car has very little bearing on what's happening at the summit.
The summer limits when you can climb the trail safely since, like many hikes in the Wasatch Mountain Range, there is little shade and a lot of exposure to the sun. During the spring and in wetter summers, wildflowers will line the trail all along its length. Horny toads and other lizards are the most common fauna, accompanied by bull snakes and the odd rattler (watch your step!). Bird-watchers will most likely see the usual red-tailed hawks and magpies, though the lucky and eagle-eyed will see mountain jays, finches, and the occasional eagle. The steep drop-offs on either side of the trail mean that trees don't shade the trail, even in good years, until the very last quarter mile. There is no water to be found on the trail and the grade doesn't let up much from about a mile in until the final approach to the peak when the trail dives behind the ridgeline. However, the view from the top is memorable. From the summit, you can see the Little Dell reservoir and Big Mountain to the north, most of the Wasatch Front to the west and out to the Stansbury range nearly a hundred miles away, as well as the Great Salt Lake and, of course, Millcreek Canyon below, and Mount Olympus directly south. Because of the relative ease of the trail itself (no scrambles or particularly tricky rocks) and its exposure, many locals hike Grandeur at night, which gives the view a whole new flavor as the lights of the Wasatch Front metro area stretch from the southern to the northern horizon and abruptly end at the Oquirrh Mountains across the valley.
From the summit, you can continue down into Millcreek to hike up to Mount Aire and back, or down to the Elbow Fork trailhead if you have a shuttle waiting. On its own, Grandeur Peak Trail is an excellent, quick (2-3-hour) way to get some elevation under you while also offering access to some of the other beautiful peaks in the area for the determined or foolhardy.
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