OverviewThe name Bridger was applied to the peak in the 1990s by the Salt Lake Tribune in an article about the highest points in each of Utah's 29 counties. Jim Bridger was a local "mountain man" who hunted in this area. His name is also applied to many other areas between Ogden, Utah and western Wyoming, typically in areas that share a "mountain man" type theme.
Bridger Peak is the highest point in Rich county, Utah. Within Utah, Bridger Peak claims title to the lowest county highpoint, while in the US, it claims title to the highest "runt" county highpoint (Bridger Peak is the highest of the lowest county within a state). Equally interesting, its summit is only a few feet from the Utah/Idaho border. Some have said that a fence used to be near the summit to denote this line, but I didn't see any such thing on my visit in 2003. This summit and its approach are in the Wasatch/Cache National Forest, making an approach convenient. While one gets quality views to Bear Lake and the Bear River Range including Naomi Peak, this peak isn't likely to be climbed by anyone not seeking Utah county highpoints.
Other attractions in the area include...
Rich county's current population is estimated at 2100 people (2004 census), making it the third lowest in Utah behind Piute, and Dagget counties. Most of the population resides near Bear Lake, in spread out towns like Garden City, Lakota, Laketown, and Pickelville. Pickelville...Mmmmmm. The county seat is in Randolph, along UT-16. Rich is also home to Utah's coolest average temperature throughout the county: 41 degrees. Not far from Bridger Peak, a unique high-altitude mountainous depression exists, known as Peter Sinks. The second coldest temperature ever recorded in the continental US was observed here in February 1985: -69F. Trees do not grow in this depression because even in summer time, it is rare to go four consecutive days without freezing temperatures.
Start from Swan Flat road, just before it enters into Idaho. There is an ATV trail to the east that leads down into a gulley and back up the hillside. Keep following this trail as it meanders steeply up the hillside until it bends to the south. Peel off the trail towards the north/northeast and head cross country through aspens, conifers and grasses. As soon as you get onto a very mild and gentle ridge, follow it north to the top. A cairn exists near a tree trunk at the north end of the ridge. Keep an eye on landmarks on the way up as there is no trail for part of the hike.
Getting ThereFrom Salt Lake City (or close vicinity to the Great Salt Lake), go north on I-15 to Brigham City and turn east on 1100 S. This exit is also signed for Logan/USU. Travel past Brigham City on US-89 through Sardine Canyon all the way to Logan. In Logan, from Main street/US-89, turn right on 400 N and go past USU on your way into Logan canyon. Approximately 27ish miles up the canyon, and about three miles past the turnoff for Beaver Mountain ski area, watch for a UDOT road maintenance facility. After this, turn left on Swan Flat road.[img:177228:alignleft:small:] Approximately three and a half miles up this gravel road, watch for a clearing and a small pullout on the right. Garden City canyon is on the right, and an ATV trail goes down into it and up the hillside (viewable from the road). This ATV trail will be the beginning of your route to Bridger Peak.
To get to Bear Lake, continue east on US-89 until you arrive at the lake.
Red Tape/Current ConditionsWasatch Cache National Forest has no restrictions for hiking in this area. Even ATVs are allowed near the summit.
Check with the local ranger station for any possible temporary restrictions:
Logan Ranger District
1500 East Highway 89
Logan, UT 84321
Weather Forecast for Bridger Peak area.
The construction in Logan Canyon is complete as of fall '06. More passing lanes, fewer sharp curves, a better gradient, and many other improvements have been completed.
CampingThese are USFS administered campgrounds in the immediate vicinity of Bridger Peak.
Sunrise: Sunrise is closer to Bridger Peak, but is a few miles past the turnoff to Swan Flats if you are coming from Salt Lake City and Logan canyon.
Tony Grove: at the Tony Grove trailhead (Naomi Peak)
Other primitive campsites (non-maintained) exist along the Swan Flats road, in Utah, and some just barely past the Idaho border. I saw a few hunting or ranching trailers just a few hundred feet from where I parked near the ATV trail.
Winter specificsIn winter with sufficient snowpack, Swan Flat road is usually groomed for snow machines making a winter ascent possible. Check with the Logan District office for current information.
Check the Logan avalanche forecast for current avalanche conditions. They can also be reached at (435)797-4146.
Even if you left US-89 on skis or snowshoes, it is only about 10 miles round trip to the summit and back.
External LinksWasatch Cache National Forest, Logan District
Minnetonka Cave (435)245-4422
Rich County History (Thanks Dean!)
High in Utah (ISBN 0874805880)
Hiking Utah's Summits (ISBN 1560445882)
MapsThanks to Dean!
[img:177236:aligncenter:small:Between Beaver Mountain and Bear Lake]