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EAGLE MOUNTAIN — In far western Utah county, there lies the beautiful and thriving, rural metropolitan city town of Eagle Mountain. This often misclassified city contains 41.7-square miles of land that is home to approximately 24,000 people who are all kind enough to share two gas stations and one grocery store.
Beyond the beautifully-crafted homes and paved roads and parkways of this largely populated town, however, are the seemingly endless miles of foothills that extend out beyond the west side Lake Mountain. One foothill in particular stands out above the rest, not because of its large elevation gain, but because of its striking resmblance to one slow-moving reptile.
This week’s hike of the week features what has been lovingly named, “Turtle Hill Trail” by one local man who loved his turtle.
Avid runner, Chuck Carrick, often with the company of his brother, Jack Carrick, found solace in running laps on his favorite route at the north point of Lake Mountain over a small hill in the shape of a turtle shell. The brothers would often run the 1.4 miles roundtrip (including a 465-foot climb) or complete a loop heading down the east side of the hill, for a total of 2.4 miles — always stopping at the top to enjoy the full 360-degree view of Eagle Mountain, Utah Lake and Lake Mountain.
According to Jack Carrick, about the time his brother began running on his favorite hill, he and his family adopted an old turtle named Walter from a couple that had him for approximately 40 years.
“Chuck's family took really good care of Walter and loved him,” Jack Carrick said. “Unfortunately, they also had a pet rat that wasn't so nice that managed to get out of its cage one night and ate the eyes out of Walter so they had to put him to sleep.”
Chuck knew that such a special turtle deserved a proper burial, so when Walter died he buried him at the top of his favorite turtle-shaped hill, and even had a little ceremony dedicating the hill to him by naming it Turtle Hill.
Not many locals knew about this story, and began calling the hill, “Zig-Zag Hill” because of the shape of the trail. Chuck wouldn’t have it, so a couple years ago, he made a sign in memory of his turtle so there was no mistaking the name of the hill.
It’s not just runners that enjoy this hill, but many families with young children often hike to the top to have a picnic and experience the spectacular views of not only the valley below, but the mountains beyond.
Children love watching the cottontail and jackrabbits dart across the trail, the ravens hovering above and the occasional deer or even coyote making their way along the hillside.
In the springtime, a wide variety of wildflowers bloom, dotting the hillside with all colors of the rainbow.
But, it is the views that make this turtle-shaped hill so amazing. While at the top, hikers can see all the way to the farthest borders of Eagle Mountain from the City Center to White Hills and the Ranches areas that is home to the famous Pony Express Trail.
When the sky is clear, onlookers can have a picturesque view of the ridgeline all the way to the top of Lake Mountain, as well as Utah Lake and the Wasatch Mountain Range. The hilltop also provides the perfect vantage point for miles and miles of hiking, mountain biking and HOV trail access— which may just spark the urge to stay and explore more or plan another trip back to the city for more hours of fun in the spectacular area of Eagle Mountain.
Directions: Turtle Hill Trail is located on Lake Mountain Road on the City Center side of Eagle Mountain. Simply take Pony Express Parkway past Hidden Hollow Elementary, go about 1 mile, then take your first left on a dirt road (Lake Mountain Road). The trail is about a mile up the road on the left-hand side, marked only by a sign made by Chuck Carrick.
Distance: 1.4 miles roundtrip
Time: 30-40 minutes