Grandview Peak is the highest point within the Salt Lake City limits. There are plenty of ways to get there, though all are on the long side and all involve off-trail hiking. As Hanscom and Kelner's says "you can't get there from here" (though no doubt this is more true in winter than in other seasons).
The route we took divides into four distinct segments: gaining the N ridge of City Creek Canyon, following the ridge to the peak, returning to the canyon bottom, and following the canyon bottom back to the trailhead. It is about 12 miles round trip, with 3700' gain/loss not counting some ups and downs on the ridge. We took 7.5 hours on this route, taking plenty of breaks and without hurrying.
Here is a KMZ file for Google Earth
showing the entire route.
To gain the City Creek Ridge, we started at the trailhead for City Creek's North Fork, at picnic area 23 on the City Creek road. The road can be driven on even days Memorial Day through the end of September (more detail
). This trail, which starts at 5710' and ends at 7160' at Rudy's Flat, is generally easy to follow but has not been maintained and is getting overgrown in spots. This trail is marked (nearly correctly) on the USGS maps.
Upon arriving at Rudy's Flat, the trail splits. Sometimes a cairn is found at the split. The right fork of this trail appears to dead-end in brush in a quarter mile or less, so take the left fork, which leads very quickly to one of the meadows in Rudy's Flat where kids and mountain bikers can often be found. From the meadow veer right and follow a broad trail (marked on the USGS maps) that contours east, around the north side of the ridge. Rudy's Flat has trails going everywhere; if you're not gaining elevation as you head east then you might have got the wrong one.
After leaving Rudy's Flat the trail winds around, gaining elevation, then finally turns SE and heads directly up the ridge, to another spot often marked by a cairn. From here the trail follows the ridge until about 8300', where it veers right into a draw, and then ends at the bottom of the drainage. Head uphill cross country to Burro Peak at 8958' (marked as Big Black Mountain in Veranth's book) where two USGS markers can be found. Burro has good views but is not otherwise impressive.
If reversing the route from Burro to Rudy's Flat, note that there are two ways to go wrong. First, by following the ridge SW of Burro instead of jogging NW to the sub-ridge where the trail is. Second, by missing the trail that drops off the sub-ridge down to Rudy's Flat. That latter is not too serious since you would soon run across the trail; the former would lead to more than 3000 vertical feet of steep bushwhacking. I've heard of a group that made this mistake and ended up staying out a lot later than they had intended.
Ridge route to Grandview, from Burro
Ridge route to Burro, from Grandview
From Burro, the rest of the route to Grandview can be seen clearly: just follow the ridge. Fragments of trail exist. This part of the hike is beautiful and fun, with just a few minor obstacles along the way.
Cottonwood Gulch panorama
From Grandview, several descent routes are possible. Cottonwood Gulch descends directly SW to the canyon bottom. It is easy but not very aesthetic or enjoyable. Lower Cottonwood Gulch seems like it could turn into a real brush thrash but that did not happen the one time I descended it. We spent a fair amount of time right in the streambed. Grandview's S ridge would go -- though not the sub-ridge containing the impressive 300' cliff that is easily visible as a white triangle from Grandeur, Olympus, Raymond, and Gobbler's Knob.
We descended Grandview's E ridge and then traveled cross-country to City Creek Meadows, a small flat area, and then continued SE over an 8150' saddle to the next minor drainage, which we followed to the canyon bottom. This drainage was interesting since it contained evidence of recent avalanches going all the way to the canyon bottom. This descent route was easy, open walking the whole way.
At the canyon bottom, the trail can be picked up and it is a pleasant stroll back down to the top of the road, and down to the North Fork trailhead.
Leaves in the canyon bottom #1
Leaves in the canyon bottom #2
Leaves in the canyon bottom #3
We hiked this route on September 28, 2007, four days after the year's first snow. 2-3 inches of snow were still found in sheltered N facing locations. The leaves were in full color and were very pretty.
An incoming cold front made it very windy, though not quite so much as to interfere with walking. The ridge provided plenty of shelter; a few times we sat in relative calm while just a few feet away the wind boomed like a freight train.
We saw just one deer, a couple of birds that looked like grouse, and (along the canyon bottom) a big bull moose with a cow. Also, at the bottom end of City Creek Meadows, we found a recently-dead coyote with its leg in a trap. Was the coyote the trap's intended target? A ranger at the City Creek gate mentioned to us that both cougars and bears has been seen in the area recently.
Early, wet snow
Sun on clouds and snow
Bountiful and the Salt Lake, betweeen snow and clouds
I've been a bit obsessed with Grandview since barely failing to reach the summit in 2004 due to a slow party member and impending darkness. Since then work and two babies have pretty effectively kept me off the trails.
On Monday 9/24/2007 we attempted this same route in poor weather. We got a late start and by the time we arrived at the trailhead several inches of snow had accumulated. The snow-laden brush overhanging the trail made it hard to find the route and completely soaked us. At around 8000' we decided we were probably moving too slowly to complete the circuit by nightfall and turned around, at which point it started to clear up.