Bountiful Peak can be approached via the southern traverse. This ~7 mile round trip route is a nice compromise between the difficult ~13 mile roundtrip route from Centerville Parish Lane trailhead or simply driving up Skyline Road and scrambling the final 300 feet to the summit. In short, Bountiful Peak’s Southern Traverse is long enough to make you feel like you’ve “earned” the summit but is easy enough for non-seasoned hikers to appreciate. Slow to average hikers complete the round trip in around 4 hours.
Because the Bountiful Peak Southern Traverse follows the narrow ridgeline, the route offers absolutely spectacular views of the Salt Lake basin and the rugged mountains to the east almost every step of the trip. During the hike on the ridgeline, you will see the entire pantheon of Wasatch Peaks including Frary, Francis, Mt Ogden, Olympus, Deseret and pretty much everything else climbable in the area. It’s a wind-swept, rocky, exposed route right along the Wasatch spine.
The route is pleasantly cool in the summer. In most years you could expect snow fields along the route through July. Once Skyline Road opens in the spring, the route is an excellent snow shoe trip into late April/May.
The Southern Traverse starts at the Session Mt Road/Skyline Junction trailhead (40.930298,-111.793061). Follow the old, mostly overgrown motorcycle trail through the brush and steeply up the side of the mountain (650 foot gain in ½ mile) to the top of Peak 8775. Once on top, the trail becomes iffy and you’ll have to pick your own way up and down the series of peaks for the 3 miles of the rest of the route. No problem there; the brush is minimal on the ridge. After Peak 8,775, the ridgeline crosses peaks 8,874, 8,904 (Centerville Peak), and 9,079 until reaching Bountiful Peak (9,259) in ~3.5 total miles. Net Vertical Gain from trailhead to Bountiful Peak is 1,150 feet, but Gross Vertical Gain is much more because you are going up and down the series of peaks on the route.
The only real buzzkill to this route is the Skyline dirt road runs parallel to the ridgeline and you can see/hear ATVs and motorcycles during your hike. In addition, seeing the small parking lot below Bountiful Peak puts a light damper on the thrill of the moment. On the other hand, if you get snake bit, help is only 500 yards down the hill!
The Sessions Mt Road/Skyline Junction Trailhead is located 40.930298,-111.793061.
From I-15, take exit 317, turn right onto 400 N and go east toward the mountains for 2.6 miles. Take a sharp left toward Skyline Drive for .3 miles, then a slight right onto Skyline Drive. You will pass the Big B on the side of the mountain in a ritzy neighborhood. The road passes a huge dirt parking lot full of motorcycle and ATV trailers and becomes a well maintained (no potholes) dirt road that winds up the mountains for about 5 miles. The trailhead is where the road splits with Skyline Road continuing north and Sessions Mt Road going east. It is an obvious trailhead. Park in the dirt parking lot.
The trailhead has space for over a dozen vehicles and is sometimes crowded with ATV trailers. There isn’t water available and no bathroom facilities.
The Skyline Road is normally closed in the winter.
Essential Gear, Camping and Red TapeESENTIAL GEAR
Most of the year, you should only need standard hiking gear. Snowshoes are near mandatory in the winter; crampons shouldn’t be required. Water is unavailable the entire route; recommend at carrying at least 2 quarts during the summer.
Camping is allowed but few spots are desirable along the ridgeline. There is the occasional fire ring on several of the peaks, but they didn’t really appear to be places where people overnighted; it’s just too windy. There are several USFS sanctioned camping areas along Skyline Road.
USFS land in the Wasatch National Forest, no fees. Dogs/horses are allowed but the route looks like it’d be difficult for a horse...maybe a mule. Because it’s USFS land be sure to abide by the usual regulations inherent to Government property—The area is well patrolled by USFS personnel.
Flora and Fauna
Animal life consists of moose, wild-turkey, grouse, deer, elk, squirrels, rabbits, bobcat and fox. If you look closely along the route you’ll see lots of signs of animal inhabitants including dens, scat, and tracks. Rattlesnakes are very common along the route, so exercise caution. Bugs are negligible and there doesn’t seem to be too much of a mosquito problem but DEET always comes in handy.
Because most of the route is well over 8,000 feet and exposed, there are very few trees along the route. There is, however, a huge abundance of wildflowers even into August. The rest of the flora includes stunted sage, grasses, wild roses, and some small trees.