Great Western Trail to Layton Peak

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Utah, United States, North America
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Spring, Summer, Fall
Time Required:
Most of a day

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Great Western Trail to Layton Peak
Created On: Sep 6, 2007
Last Edited On: May 2, 2016

Great Western Trail to Layton Peak

You can make a loop hike using this trail for the ascent, bag Layton and Thurston peaks, then descend via the Kay's Creek Ridge Trail. The Great Western trail was originally created by the Forest Service many years ago.  It has switchbacks and at one time was cut into the hillside. The GW trail is much easier to ascend than Kay's Creek Ridge because of the all the switchbacks.  Kay's Creek Ridge trail goes straight up the mountain and has a lot of loose rocks and gullies.  The GW trail also has a few undeveloped camping areas and has more shade than the Kay's Creek Ridge Trail. Unfortunately, neither trail is maintained except by a few sporadic locals (author included).  Long pants are suggested due to areas of overgrowth.

Getting There

Start at the Fernwood trail access (same as Community Trail).

Route Description

Starting from the Fernwood trail head, go north on the Bonneville Shoreline trail. Do not turn left and go over the new bridge at 0.5 miles.  Instead, keep right and go over an older bridge in about 0.2 miles.  At 1.18 miles, the trail will split. Go right on the Great Western trail. The trail will switchback for a while, and then you will enter a thick forest. From the bottom of the mountain, you would never imagine a forest (with trees of this height) exists on the side of this mountain. It is certainly not visible from the valley floor.

At 5.21 miles there is a spring with some PVC pipe for collecting water (called "Cool Spring" on some maps). At 5.5 miles, you'll encounter ruins of an old campsite complete with an iron stove. It is very important you make a 90 degree left turn here at the campsite. The trail also continues to go straight (or slightly to your right), but you do NOT want to go there (the trail goes to the Kay's Creek Ridge Trail, and it is very faint in spots).

After you make that 90 degree left hand turn, you'll head over to some rocks with cairns, then up a very steep section.  This loose rock steep section was named "Chinscraper" by the Wasatch 100 racers.  [the course changed in 2016 so the race no longer traverses this ridge).  Once you scramble up this steep section, you should see two large cairns -- 6 miles from your start at Fernwood.  You have now intersected with the Kays Creek Ridge trail.

It is now 0.4 miles to the top of Layton peak. There is no real "trail", but it is easy to find your way to the top.  Follow the obvious dirt patch heading higher in elevation.  You will see another cairn marking where the Great Western trail heads south to Farmington.  Stay to the left and make your way higher in elevation.  The trail becomes more and more faint - just keep heading for the highest spot in elevation.

Essential Gear

It can be very windy up top; some warm clothing advised.  Bring binoculars if you want to spot mountain goats.  If you see anything white - take a more close look to see if it moves.  I've seen goats more than once from the summit.