Hidden Peak
Mt. Baldy P300
Sugarloaf Mountain P500
East Twin Peaks
American Fork Twin Peaks P2K
Geek Peak

Thu, Sep 1, 2022
Mt. Baldy
Sugarloaf Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile


Today's outing was to a collection of summits along the high ridgeline above the Snowbird Ski Area. I had originally planned to take advantage of the tram ride from the ski area, but found I could access these peaks in a more remote setting from the backside in the American Fork drainage. I'd spent the night camped on the Mary Ellen Gulch 4x4 Rd. Though rated only as "moderate", the road is horribly rocky and rough, very slow going in the Jeep, and I was stopped at the crux about 3/4 of the way up. During the night, two vehicles came up the road with lights ablaze, past my camp spot, past the crux, all the way to the road's end, then back down again - all just a bit of midnight 4x4 fun. These guys had more skills and cajones than me, for sure.

I was up and starting my day on foot before sunrise, hiking the remaining length of road to a locked gate in about 50min. Sunrise came and the day warmed nicely. The air was cool and crisp in the morning with blue skies. From the locked gate, it was a 25min hike along the ski area service road high in Mineral Basin to the top of Hidden Peak. The summit is covered in concrete and structures, the upper terminus of Snowbird's aerial tram. I had been to the summit on several visits to the ski area back in the late 1980s, but the dates are lost in the foggy memory banks. Today, there were technicians working on the tram, not really minding my walking about the place, but it wasn't very inviting. It was not yet 8a and the tram wouldn't be running until another hour.

I walked around the south side of the closed tram building, then down to the saddle on the northeast side where I picked up the Mt. Baldy Trail, my next destination. The trail takes one to the summit in about 15min where a pair of small, solar-powered weather instruments are located. A simple wooden bench is located here, looking down on the ski area below, and west out to Salt Lake City. A third easy summit, Sugarloaf, is found another 2/3mi to the east. The trail continues down to a saddle which marks the boundary with the adjacent Alta Ski Area - sort of. It appears that the two resorts are now owned by the same entity, giving skiers access between them. Three young ladies were descending Sugarloaf as I started up, trail runners in shorts and short-sleeve shirts. A mailbox is found in a cairn at the summit with views east to the more difficult Devils Castle. I would have liked to visit it, but it would have put me well past my planned finish by noon - I still have a lot of driving today.

After returning to the saddle, I followed roads on the south side of the ridge in order to avoid going back over Baldy and Hidden. I'm not sure that it saved an time or effort. I returned to the ridge on the southwest side of Hidden Peak, and began following the ridgeine west, now outside the ski area. This is a very enjoyable traverse to Twin Peaks, with some fun scrambling that turns out to be easier than it appears from a distance. I came upon another gentleman out for a morning workout as I made my way along. Reagan and I struck up a conversation and continued together for much of the remaining distance. Having done the traverse several times in the past, he had started by giving me some advice on which way to go. He soon realized I was capable enough and the advice stopped. We talked about other peaks in the state and elsewhere as he was surprised to find someone from CA on this local gem. I eventually left him on the steeper slope heading up to East Twin Peaks. East Twin was very little prominence, one of three summits of nearly-equal height collectively called Twin Peak. It's an easy ten minute jaunt to the slightly higher American Fork Twin Peaks to the west, and just after 10:30a, I was atop the day's highpoint. It would have been fun to continue west along the ridge as far a White Baldy, but that, too, would have put me well beyond my noon deadline.

While taking in the views from this P3K, Reagan came up from the east only a few minutes behind me. We chatted again about the peaks off to the west where he intended to go, then I turned back towards East Twin to start making my way back. I still had one more summit to visit, Geek Peak, found about half a mile south of East Twin. Both have little prominence and the ridgeline connecting them is quite easy. It was 11a when I reached the top of Geek Peak. It would take me another hour to descend back down into Mary Ellen Gulch and the Jeep. It was a nice hike down the SE Ridge of Geek Peak, then east down grassy slopes where I unintentionally chased off a good-sized elk herd. I passed by a large, abandoned cabin and some of the remains from the Yankee Mines near the bottom. The last part had me descending a 4x4 road from the mine works back to where I'd parked.

After showering, I started back down the rough road, made my way to Salt Lake City, then east on Interstate 80 into Nevada. It would be long after sunset before I had driven high into the Eugene Mountains southwest of Winnemucca where I planned a short hike the next morning...


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This page last updated: Tue Nov 22 15:34:22 2022
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