Kelsey Peak, Butterfield Canyon

Posted: 24th September 2010 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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Three weeks ago, I wrote about nearly getting lost in the Oquirrh Mountains. Today, I returned to do the same hike.

I planned to do a few things different from last time. First, I would hit a different peak, Kelsey Peak, which is right next to the one I hit before but maybe a hundred feet higher (it’s one of the highest peaks in the Oquirrh Mountains). Second, I would park closer the trail so I didn’t waste time walking before starting the climb. And, third, I wasn’t going to get lost!

Okay, I won’t normally admit this but I do sometimes have anxiety when going out on a hike. The problem is that none of my friends are up for hikes like this one–they just aren’t fit enough. So it was just me and my dog, Suki. But this hike took me far into back country, along trails that seldom see any traffic. Given how steep some of the slopes are near the peak, there are certainly dangers. And, although I was confident I would not get my direction confused this time, the thought of the last time I went on this hike did nothing to ease my anxiety today.

Kelsey Peak

Kelsey Peak

So I had some concerns but felt the need to do this hike the right way and hit the slightly higher peak. Besides, this really is a great hike if you want to get on the highest peak around and see some great views.

As mentioned, I parked closer to the trail this time so that I didn’t waste time walking to it. At the start, it’s actually an ATV trail with a few steep spots. This climbs up to a sort of “bowl” below the peaks and that’s where things start getting steep. Really steep.

Cairn Rock

Cairn Rock

At this point, I decided to take a slightly different route, one that got me up onto a high ridge rather than going straight up the face. It was a steep and difficult climb to reach this ridge and much of it was spent on all fours. But the climb to the ridge at this location was much shorter than climbing up the face. This turned out to be a good move because just on the other side of the ridge was a trail. Not a great trail, but a trail nonetheless. (Last time, I never saw any trails except for deer and cow trails.)

Not only did this trail make it a little easier to travel but it went around some of the smaller peaks, saving me a lot of time. Originally, I was thinking I would hit the peak I hit three weeks ago and then climb down into a saddle before starting the climb back up to the final peak. But this trail went around the peak I hit before and took me straight to the bottom of the final peak. The climb to the final peak was very steep as well, but really pretty short.

South End of Great Salt Lake

South End of Great Salt Lake

On the way back, I had a hard time finding the trail that had saved me so much time. It was very difficult to see. At the same time, I could look down and see the way (the wrong way) I returned last time, and must admit I felt a little stressed. This was the only point where I became a little unsure. The hills were fairly steep here and I was kind of going up and down them through the bushes looking for the trail. But I had a good understanding of the area (I spent quite a bit of time analyzing it on Google Maps) and eventually got back on the trail.

Working back, I got off the ridge at a slightly different location. Again, it was very steep, but seemed about the easiest spot I could find. I was definitely grabbing any branches or grass I could on the way down, and trying to dig in with my feet caused a number of blisters. But it wasn’t long before I was back down on the floor of the bowl I hiked up on the way up.

Since I hike every week, most of my hikes are a bit shorter than this one. But it was definitely one I felt I needed to do. Although my dog sometimes struggled in the heat, the weather really was pretty nice, and the views were spectacular.

Hike: Kelsey Peak (10,373′)
Stop Watch: Approximately 2 hours, 45 minutes to reach the peak; Just over 5 hours on the mountain.
Trailhead: White Pine picnic area, Middle Canyon Road.
Directions: Drive up Butterfield Canyon until you start coming down the Tooele side. (Technically, Butterfield Canyon Road changes to Middle Canyon Road well before you reach the top, and remains Middle Canyon Road on the Tooele side.)  Drive down a short distance until you hit the White Pine picnic area on the left. Drive up the road as far as your vehicle will take you, and then get out and start walking.

Looking West from Kelsey Peak

Looking West from Kelsey Peak

Looking East from Kelsey Peak

Looking East from Kelsey Peak


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