Grandeur Peak via Church Fork: Trail Review

I was in Salt Lake City for a meeting this week, and decided to run up Grandeur Peak, a trail I have been meaning to do for a few years. This is a smaller peak on the Wasatch front, just north of Mount Olympus, and the trail was rumored to be runnable. My meeting let out just before 3:00, and I got to the trail head before 3:30. It was a gorgeous early fall day, with temperatures in the valley in the low 60’s.

There are two trails up Grandeur Peak. One goes up the western face, and is very short and ridiculously steep. I took the other trail, which starts at the Church Fork Picnic Area a couple of miles up Millcreek Canyon. Here is the GPS map of my run on a topographical map, and you can explore it in greater detail here. I included the western part of the map so that you can see how close the peak is to the city below.

Grandeur Peak - route map

Grandeur Peak - elevation profile

The first part of the trail goes through a fairly thick forest next to a mountain stream. It is very scenic, especially as it was early fall and the trail had scattered leaves on it. After about a mile the trail moves out of the larger trees into the scrub oak, where the leaves were turning red. During the second mile there were several switchbacks, and the trail had several rocky patches. I had my first good look at the summit during this section of the trail.

First view of the valley during the 3rd mile

Just after the second mile mark the trail reaches the top of a ridge, and you can see down into the valley below. The third mile follows this ridge up to the summit, where you have a lovely 360 degree view all around. To the west you can see the Salt Lake Valley, chock full of roads and buildings. The summit is only about 8200 feet, so you can easily hear traffic noise on the freeway below. To the south you can see Mount Olympus, which looks much less impressive from this angle than it does from the valley. To the east and north you can see more of the Wasatch Mountains, and there was just a bit of snow on the tallest peaks.

It took me just less than an hour to reach the summit (59 minutes, actually). The trail was mostly runnable, but I slowed down on the third mile and hiked when the trail got too steep near the summit. Here are my splits:

Distance Pace Elapsed Time
1.0 mi 16:16 min/mi 00:16:11
2.0 mi 18:50 min/mi 00:18:48
3.0 mi 22:40 min/mi 00:22:25
4.0 mi 22:13 min/mi 00:22:02
5.0 mi 12:22 min/mi 00:12:21
6.0 mi 12:09 min/mi 00:12:03
6.3 mi 10:20 min/mi 00:03:00

20181005_163611I stopped for a few minutes at the summit and ate a Clif Bar, which slowed down my 4th mile split, but when I started back down the trail I made pretty good time, reaching my car in about 45 minutes.

My overall verdict is that Grandeur Peak via the Church Fork Trail is a great run, albeit on the steep side. It is reasonably short and doable within a couple of hours. If you haven’t run it, then put it on your list and go do it!

I also blog about religion and medicine, and about my music recording hobby.

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