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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Ensign Peak Hike - Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City has a few classic hikes. You know what I am talking about…. the hike you bring out of towners to, your chance to show off the city you adore and the mountains you love. I have a list of these hikes I keep in my back pocket, ranging from distance to elevation, summit views or solitude.

For a good sweat and a sunset at a unique location with views, I take them to hike the Living Room. For a long meandering trail above the city, we head to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail or head to Twin Peaks. But for a really quick climb to see the city before dinner, I take them to Ensign Peak. Anyone who has ever visited me out west has likely climbed Ensign Peak. 1/2 mile and you are there, with sweeping views of Salt Lake City below. You can see State Street and its parallel neighbors stitching out into the horizon. You can see the traffic and the city buildings standing in stark contrast next to the beautiful Wasatch Mountains banking the city. The sun starts to set and you can sit up here with a view, your thoughts, and a beer. I have hiked this spot a dozen times, with out of towners, to see the super moon, or just with my dog to clear my head. If you find yourself in Salt Lake City, with a hour to kill and a desire to see the city from a different view, I hope you head to Ensign Peak.

Trailhead: 1002 N. Ensign Vista Drive, Salt Lake City. The trailhead is located just above the capital building. Pair this hike with a trip to the capital building to walk around the grounds. There is no formal parking lot but instead, you just park along the road at the trailhead/park/. The trailhead comes up in google maps. It is right across from Ensign Peak Memorial Garden. There is a little memorial park a the trailhead. Follow the stairs up the park to start the trail.

Distance: 1 mile roundtrip
Amenities: No formal parking lot (park along roads), no bathrooms.
Elevation gained: ~400 feet
Summit elevation: 5,414
Route: The dirt trail is well marked and easy to follow. There are fences up to keep you on the trail. The trail has steep sections with a few switchbacks. Stay on the trail as re-vegetation efforts are under way. You will see the stone tower, black railing and plaques marking the summit.
Kids: Yes, short but steep, doable for kids.
Dogs: Yes, on-leash

The monolith at the summit was erected on July 26, 1934. The plaque on the monolith reads “July 26, 1847, two days after the mormon pioneers entered this valley Brigham Young and Party climbed to this point and with the aid of field glasses, made a careful survey of the mountains, canyons, and streams……Wilford Woodruff, first to ascend the peak suggested it as a fitting place to set up an ensign". It was then named Ensign Peak.

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