NOTE: The Ogden Overlook isn't a summit in and of itself, but it is a nice diversion on the way to Sardine Peak...take the extra 20 minutes, get a great view and press toward Sardine! Have Fun!
The most popular hike out of the Snow Basin parking lot isn’t the sexy summits like Ogden, Allen, Strawberry or DeMoisy. It isn’t even the more pedestrian summit of Sardine…for general hiking out of the Snow Basin Trail head, the Ogden Overlook wins the popularity contest hands down.
Like the perfect Saturday night girl, the Ogden Overlook is both pretty and easy. The Ogden Overlook draws the hiker crowds with its 5.8 mile roundtrip excursion through the forest and up the hill to the Ogden Overlook. The final destination, nestled high on a ridge between Allen and Sardine Peaks, presents a grand view of the mountains and Coldwater Canyon a thousand feet below. Off in the distance you can see Ogden City and, on clear days, Nevada mountain ranges. In the summer it is a cool, forested hike. In the winter, it’s a moderate snowshoe above the smog. The end of the trail even has a convenient bench for sitting and thinking. Overall, the Ogden Overlook hike is an extremely pleasant way to kill a couple of hours.
The simplest way to reach the Ogden Overlook is to head north out of the lower Snow Basin parking lot toward Maples Campground in the general direction of Sardine Peak. The first part of the hike follows an old jeep road (currently blocked off by a gate) to the old campground on Snow Basin property. At the north end of the campground around ¾ miles into the hike, the trail becomes single narrow track as you enter USFS property. From here, follow the trail as it weaves through the forest and up the hillside. After ~2 miles total, you will reach the ridgeline where the trail splits. It’s clearly signed, go right toward Sardine Peak or go left for the Ogden Overlook. Continue weaving through the forest and up for ~.8 miles until you reach the Ogden Overlook. Return the way you came. There aren’t too many distracting side trails and you can’t go wrong following the main path.
An alternate (and better) route during the winter is to follow the power lines to the ridgeline. This route is good for snowshoes and cross country skis. This trail tends to get overgrown in the summer, but during the winter the path is well packed and easy to follow. It is a more direct route and cuts about .5 miles off of the hike. From the Snow Basin parking lot, right next to the gate and info signboard, there is a trail leading steeply up into the forest. This trail meets up with another trail under the power lines. Follow the power lines 1.5 miles to the ridgeline (gets steep toward the ridgeline) and then continue on the trail toward the Overlook.
Trailhead Elevation: 6329
Trailhead Location: 41.21831°N / 111.86275°W
Ridge Elevation: 6940
Overlook Elevation: 7140
Total Elevation Gain: 800
Distance: 5.8 Roundtrip
Time: 3-4 hours
The trailhead and the first part of the hike to the Ogden overlook are co-located with the Snow Basin Resort. The resort is one of the oldest continually operated ski resorts in the US. It first opened in 1939 as an environmental and economic recovery measure (think TARP, circa 1938). The primary reason for selecting the area was part of the USFS’s efforts to restore the Wheeler Creek Watershed. Prior to the 1930s, the area had been severely damaged by mining, over-grazing and over-logging. The ski resort, combined with the national forest was a key element in resolving the previous environmental impacts. The USFS had worked to establish numerous small ski resorts during the 1930s and Snow Basin remained a relatively low-key operation until hosting some of the 2002 Winter Olympic Alpine skiing events. As part of the Olympic deal, Snow Basin Resorts acquired the Maples Campground area.
The area is especially good place to explore during the winter as the route to the Ogden Overlook is a popular snowshoe/Nordic ski zone. The trails around Maples are maintained by the Snow Basin resort and are groomed. There is no charge for using them. Once on USFS land, the trails get enough use that you can easily follow the path to the Overlook. The trail is challenging but doable for even rookie snowshoers. There are some pretty steep parts of the trail, so cross country skiing to the Overlook takes some actual skill.
Maples Campground is sort of a misnomer. The campgrounds are abandoned and no longer maintained by the forest service. There are still some old fire rings and picnic tables around, but the place has fallen into disrepair. The USFS website says overnight use is permitted unless posted. There aren’t any formal camping sites in the general area, although once into the USFS area there are a couple of spots for primitive camping. Use established fire rings whenever possible and practice “leave no trace” camping. Obviously, no camping is allowed in the ski resort area. There a couple of small streams you can resupply water with, but the hike is short enough you shouldn’t have to.
Getting ThereFrom Interstate 15, turn onto I-84E, drive 11.7 miles and take Exit 92 to Mountain Green/Huntsville. Drive .2 miles to UT-167 (North Trappers Loop Road) and follow the UT-167 for 5.5 miles. You’ll see the turn to Snow basin (UT-226) on the top of the hill. Drive 3 miles on UT-226, Snow Basin Rd. Once at the resort, park in the main parking lot to go up Mt Ogden/Strawberry/DeMoisy or park in the north part of the lower parking lot to go to Sardine.
Flora and Fauna
The area around the trailhead has the usual Utah wildlife including deer, elk, rabbits, ermine, squirrels, and the like. It is also heavily populated with moose, so be extra cautious and bring pepper spray (they sometimes are really ill-tempered!). It is an excellent bird-watching area. Mosquitoes are negligible but the flies get really thick in the spring/summer. Like everywhere else in Utah, watch out for rattlesnakes.
A crypto-zoologist of my acquaintance has assured me the Northern Wasatch is a hotbed of Big Foot activity and he has identified 8 in the area (from the size and location of their footprints). When I met him on the Ogden Overlook trail, he was had been in pursuit of a Sasquatch but had lost its trail. A quick internet search shows Bigfoot sightings are fairly frequent in the Ogden area and several large expeditions have gone searching for Bigfoot in the mountains near Snow Basin. The crypto-zoologist pointed out the USFS and other government agencies were well aware of the exotic mega-fauna but have so far refused to acknowledge their existence due to political reasons. Keep your eyes open…it’s a strange world
The forest in the area is thick pine, fir, aspen and oak. There are small swampy ponds in the area which draw a good deal of wildlife. Springtime offers fields of pretty wildflowers and you get good leaf changes in the fall. The entire area, of course, gets copious amounts of snow in the winter (hence the ski resort).
Red TapeNo fees but keep in mind much of the area is private property...be extra courteous so the Snow Basin people continue to be helpful. When on USFS property, please obey all federal, state and local regulations (e.g. don’t pee just anywhere, no fighting, loud rock-n-roll music, or unattended campfires, etc…).
No fees for snowshoeing and Nordic skiing to the Ogden Overlook (including Free Parking!).
Dogs, horses and mountain bikes are allowed. No motor vehicles. Campfires are restricted.