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SALT LAKE CITY — Brilliant wildflowers, alpine meadows and spectacular views of the Salt Lake Valley are plentiful along the trail to the top of Little Black Mountain.
With the trailhead located less than 5 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City in the Avenues, the trail is a quick way to escape the bustle of city life. Little Black Mountain’s elevation of 8,000 feet is relatively low compared to other Wasatch peaks, but its scenery rivals that of its loftier neighbors.
On a clear day, you can see from Layton to Draper and across the Great Salt Lake, with a bird’s-eye view of downtown Salt Lake City.
The climb to the summit is breathtaking in more ways than one. With an elevation gain of 3,000 feet in just over 4 miles one way, this hike is strenuous and will leave your thighs burning. But hiking along ridge lines with stellar views of the canyon below while surrounded by open fields of colorful wildflowers will make the going more enjoyable.
The trail is mostly hard-packed dirt and gravel. There is not much shade, so it’s recommended to start the hike early in the morning to avoid most of the heat. Walking at a brisk pace with a few water breaks, the hike takes about 2.5 hours to reach the summit and 1.5 hours to return to the trailhead. Round trip, the hike is nearly 9 miles.
Starting at the trailhead at the end of Terrace Hills Dr., follow the Bonneville Shoreline trail east. You will reach a five-way fork in the trail after a mile. Take the small trail heading northeast up the hill. You will wander up and down several small hills and through large grassy meadows.
The real steep part begins after about 3 miles of hiking. You’ll climb 800 feet in a half mile to the false summit where the views start to get incredible. A little further, you’ll reach the peak— marked by a U.S. Geological Survey benchmark. There’s also a summit log off the trail, where you can sign your name to prove you conquered Little Black Mountain.
For the overachievers, there’s another peak a little further down the trail that requires some light scrambling to reach the true summit. But for most hikers, the first peak will be the perfect place to take a breather and enjoy a snack while taking in the amazing views of the Salt Lake valley.
Directions: Head north on State Street downtown Salt Lake City. Turn right on South Temple. After a mile, turn left on I Street in the Avenues. After another mile, turn left on 13th Avenue and continue straight onto Northcrest Drive. Turn left on Terrace Hills Drive and follow it to the end. Park along the street. The trail heads east from the end of Terrace Hills Drive.
Difficulty: Hard; not recommended for young children.
Length: 9 miles roundtrip
Time: About 4 hours
Spencer Ricks is a KSL.com news writing intern and student at Dixie State University from Snoqualmie, Washington. Contact him at email@example.com.