Thurston Peak is the highest peak in Davis and Morgan counties. It was relatively unknown prior to being officially named in the early 1990's, and before county highpoint climbing became popular. Thurston sits a few miles north of Francis Peak, famous in the area for it's two large white FAA radar domes that look like giant golf balls. By driving up Francis, you can follow the easy ridge all the way to Thurston. For the more sporting, Thurston can be climbed from the valley, a climb of nearly 5,000 vertical feet.
The two routes I've taken to Thurston are via Francis Peak summit/Francis Peak road, and via Kays Creek.
For Francis Peak, take I-15 exit 327 (Lagoon). Turn right onto U.S. Highway 106, which is Farmington's Main Street. Turn left onto 600 North and follow the signs for the scenic backway. Turn left on 100 East which leads to Farmington Canyon. At 8 miles is a junction and early in the season the gate will be closed. Continue another four miles to the summit of Francis Peak.
For Kays Creek, take I-15 exit 326 (U.S. 89 to Ogden). As you go north, look for an intersection with two gas stations (one a Sinclair, the other a Tesoro). At this intersection, turn east and the road quickly turns back north. Turn east onto Fernwood Drive. Follow the road up past a water tank and castle home. The trailhead is just beyond where the pavement ends.
No obstacles on the Kays Creek route. If climbing via Francis Peak, be aware that the road is not open all the way to the summit until sometime in May most years.
When To Climb
May through October most years. Large snowdrifts linger on the east slopes of the ridges into June, so be prepared. Winter can bring heavy snowfall, but great backcountry skiing opportunities.
There is an excellent campsite on the Kays Creek trail at about 7,500 feet, but this is a steep route and unpleasant with a heavy pack. For the most part these are day hike routes, but camping is allowed anywhere as far as I can tell.
For me the worst part of the entire experience is driving up the steep, dirt/gravel winding and sometimes narrow road. If the washboard surface and hairpin turns are not enough to make one feel uncomfortable, then the racing 4-wheelers certainly are. The riders on these ATVs seem not to care one whit for safety, and I would expect that around every sharp corner there could be one or two of these things smack in the middle of the road. The canyon road is, in my opinion, made even more dangerous by the presence of ATVs. Allow at least 35-40 minutes to negotiate a one-way trip up or down the canyon itself.
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