Sometimes, you just want something different.
Meridian Peak, overlooking North Salt Lake is a treeless, dry, grassy ascent to Utah’s 1575th highest peak. While not the most exciting peak in Utah, the hike Meridian’s route provides an excellent example of Utah’s grassy foothills. The area is starkly pretty and the views of the city and Great Salt Lake during the hike are worth looking at. Because of its low prominence, the most obvious reference to let you know you are the the radio towers located one hill to the south on 6100. The trip to the top is a little over 2 miles of up, up, and up again small but steep hills from Ensign Peak. The views from the top are pedestrian at best with better scenic viewing from 6170 (the small peak with the radio tower on it).
Meridian Peak, with its majestic 48 feet of prominence, mostly exists in the mind of some obscure Government cartographer. The peak is named after the Salt Lake Meridian which starts in Temple Square, runs North/South through the state and crosses directly over Meridian Peak. The “peak” is treeless and marked by a small geo-disk set in a concrete cone. The unnamed hill to the south/east (6170) with the radio facility is actually much higher. The most common way to reach Meridian Peak is by a well maintained dirt trail via Ensign Peak. Once past Ensign, it appears the area trails were laid out by jeeps, ATVs and dirt bikes as they tend to go straight up the hillsides without zig-zagging. While that shortens the hike, it does turn an otherwise easy outing into a minor leg-burner. Your points of reference the entire hike are the 3 radio facilities north of Ensign Peak—as long as you are heading for the highest one, you are heading in the right direction. The route to Meridian crosses peaks 5600, 6150, and 6140. Once you reach the highest radio tower, go one hill over and follow the trail down the hill. Meridian Peak is roughly in line with to the North of 2nd radio tower across the canyon. Meridian’s summit has no trees on it and isn’t obvious until the climb up it--it only has 48 feet of prominance. Once there, declare victory and either return the way you came back to Ensign Park or press on to Dude Benchmark 3 miles along the trail to the north east.
Another route (shorter) goes from the Bountiful or North Salt Lake Tunnel Springs Park. You can follow the radio tower road up over and back down or head to Meridian direct (a steep 1.2 mile hike).
The most common route is from the Ensign Peak Trailhead near the Capitol
Distance: ~2.25 miles one way
Elevation gain: ~1050 (not including ups and downs)
Saddle : 5,930'
Peak Elevation: 5978
Highest Point in Hike: 6150
Isolation : 3.07 miles
~1.7 miles from Ensign Peak (Ensign is ~.5 from trailhead)
~ 3 Miles from Dude Benchmark
WHEN TO CLIMB
Meridian can be attempted any time of year. Summer may get hot during the day as there isn’t any shade along the way. The trail would be an interesting snowshoe after a hard snow. The trails do get muddy and slick during the spring.
Ensign Peak Trailhead (same as Meridian Peak’s Trailhead) is located at 40.791711,-111.888161
To get there from I-15, take exit 312 toward Beck St. Take a slight left onto Victory Road, turn left onto East 500, Turn left onto East Capitol Blvd. Take the 3rd left onto Edgecomb Drive. Continue onto Ensign Vista Dr. The Trailhead is on the left with the obvious monument park.
In general, head toward the Utah State Capitol Building. Go east around it on East Capitol Boulevard. Go up the hill heading east…look for either Edgecombe Drive or Ensign Vista Drive which both lead to Ensign Park.
There are several alternate Trailheads/Routes you can use to reach Meridian Peak. They are all traceable trails on Google Maps:
Alternate #1 is from the east on the Bonneville Shoreline Trailhead located 40.799935,-111.88291 near Oak Forest Road.
Alternate #2 Is Bonneville Shoreline Trailhead is located to the west at 40.822716,-111.902093 near Eagle Pointe Drive at Tunnel Springs Park...This is the closest approach to Meridian and is only about a mile trailhead to summit.
RED TAPE and CAMPINGRED TAPE
Red tape is minimal, no fees. You are on public lands the whole way. The trails and dirt tracks are like a maze around the area. Look for signs along the way dictating where motor vehicles and horses may be ridden.
The hike is pretty short, so few people ever camp. There aren’t any formal camping sites in the general area, but it’s not prohibited. Use established fire rings whenever possible and practice “leave no trace” camping. Lack of water in the area could prove to be a limiting factor.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Meridian Peak and the surrounding area is loaded with wildlife including moose, deer, elk, rabbits, squirrels, and the like. The area is popular with deer/elk hunters up from the city for quick evening/morning hunts---you may want to dress accordingly in bright orange during season. Predators in area include coyotes, fox, bobcat and maybe even mountain lions. Like everywhere else in Utah, watch out for rattlesnakes.
Almost all of the hike is over grass covered hillsides. Where there are trees, they are Gambel Oak and Canyon Maple. The hillsides have some pretty darn cool wildflowers in the spring.