Cara MacDonald

Hike of the week: Lone Peak via Jacob’s Ladder

By Cara MacDonald, Contributor | Posted - Aug 2nd, 2019 @ 1:03pm

DRAPER — Lone Peak, one of Utah’s most iconic hikes, offers the best of both worlds in terms of stunning mountain peaks and expansive valley views.

Lone Peak via its most popular route, Jacob’s Ladder, is roughly 12 miles round trip and includes a little more than 5,000 feet in elevation gain, according to hiking guide The Outbound. This out-and-back is very steep and long, making it a behemoth task for hikers who aren’t used to intense treks.

To get to the Lone Peak Jacob’s Ladder trailhead from Salt Lake City, drive down southbound I-15 and exit on 12300 South, then head east to 2000 East. Continue straight through the roundabout at 1300 East on the way to 2000 East, and then turn right on 2000 East. Continue for about 0.2 miles before turning into the Orson Smith parking lot. Follow the obvious dirt road for roughly 2.6 miles until reaching the parking area on the right, at which point you will have reached the Jacob’s Ladder trailhead.

This 11,000-foot Wasatch peak is not for the faint of heart and is one of the most challenging mountains to summit in Utah. Still, if you feel ready to strive for the summit on Lone Peak, August and September are the best times to go.

The Jacob’s Ladder trail will be just south of where you parked your car along the dirt road. Begin by traversing narrow switchbacks before reaching a part of the trail where it will widen and begin to head east. Eventually, you will reach some large rocks, where you will veer left and take more switchbacks up the south slope of the mountain.

Once you reach the top of the hill, the steep trail will begin to level out. Here you can enjoy hiking through a beautiful meadow filled with wildflowers and begin trekking through a pine forest, where you start navigating glacial snow and big granite slabs as the trail becomes faint and you head toward the cirque. Keep an eye out for waypoints and cairns to prevent losing your way.

Upon reaching the cirque, veer left and begin to scramble along that side of the cirque toward the very visible peak. Be extremely cautious here, as the summit is no bigger than your average kitchen table, with a 600-foot drop.

Traverse back down the way you came and enjoy the expansive views and wild environment around you, awash with the accomplishment of summiting one of Utah’s toughest peaks.

Hiking details:

Distance: 12 miles round trip.

Elevation gain: Roughly 5,000 feet.

Hiking time: Between 8-14 hours.

Difficulty: Hard. This trail is extremely steep, involves extensive scrambling, and may even require hiking through glacial snow.

What to bring: At least 3 liters of water, lunch, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray and hiking shoes.

Conditions: Prepare for the hike to be extremely hot at the bottom and possibly cold and windy at the summit. Always check the weather before attempting this hike and do not try it if lightning is in the forecast.

Cara MacDonald

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