The Kelsey Peak Overview
Located near the very heart and center of the Oquirrh Range is the beautiful Kelsey Peak. Far away from any sorts of civilization, this mountain has an elevation of 10,373 feet. Do not let the low elevation of this peak fool you, large destructive avalanches as well as landslides occur on this mountain time to time. Although there is some speculation that Kelsey Peak was named after Michael R. Kelsey (a famous author of many climbing guides including The Utah Mountaineering Guide), this mountain was actually nammed after Nancy Kelsey, the first white woman to cross the state of Utah. She was famous for saying, "Where my husband goes I can go. I can better stand the hardships of the journey than the anxieties for an absent husband." During the winter months this peak can receive over 500 inches of snowfall, making this mountain covered in snow from early December to late May. The best time of year to explore this peak is during the summer and fall months. The lack of snowfall makes finding the correct route to the peaks much easier than in the winter. The centralized location of the peak, combined with the otherwise peacefulness of having the mountain to yourself, and the chance of seeing some of the biggest herds of Elk in the Oquirrh Range, makes summiting the Kelsey Peak well worth the effort it will demand.
Kelsey Peak from the summit of Lowe Peak Troy hiking above Middle Canyon.
Getting There (from easiest to the hardest)"Butterfield Canyon" To find this trailhead, please see the attached route page. This route description is by SP member Ericwillhite,
- "On the south side of the pass are 3 "trails". Find the most western one. Just behind the jersey barrier, a narrow hiking trail will shoot uphill from the old blocked roadway. Follow this trail as it climbs up through conifer forests. The trail may be brushy in places but the trail tread is in excellent shape. As you climb the ridge, soon the summit of Butterfield Peaks will come into view with it's antennas poking above the forest. The trail will traverse a few hundred feet below the summit. On the western ridge area, the trail will split. Left will take you up to the summit, right will take you to the saddle area west of the summit. Although there is a private road from the east up Butterfield Peaks, the views there are outstanding and worth a sunrise visit! It's a easy summit! Continuing on the trail west toward the Kelsey Peak, keep an eye out for an 8 foot cairn above the trail on the ridge. From the cairn, the trail is going to drop 300 feet so many might stop there with the spectacular view of Lowe Peaks north face. For those wanting Kelsey and White Pine, the trail works up the east ridge of White Pine Peak. Although it's easy to loose in a few places, it is there if you keep looking. After White Pine Peak, just drop to Piney Pass and scramble up a climbers/game trail to the top of Kelsey. Kelsey is only 50 feet higher than White Pine Peak, views are about the same. There is also an old trail from Piney Pass back down to around 9,400 feet on the ridge you came up."
Kelsey Peak and Piney Pass. Photo Credit Ericwillhite The Butterfield Canyon Route. Looking to the south from Kelsey Peak. Photo Credit Ericwillhite Rocky Peak is on the left, Corn Peak is the middle promince. Continue NORTH past Corn Peak to gain the summit of Kelsey Peak
Ophir and Picnic Canyons
Sharing the same Trailhead, these 2 canyons are located just after the town of Ophir. For more information on how to get to the Ophir Canyon Trailhead please see the attached route page. Picnic Canyon has a well defined trail all the way to the peak, making this the recommended approach for Kelsey Peak when comming from the Ophir side. Although Ophir Canyon is shorter than Picnic Canyon by 2 miles, it does require bushwacking in sections. Which ever canyon you choose, you must pass Lowe Peak, continuing northerly to a promince known as “Corn Peak” (this is the promince between Rocky Peak and Lowe Peak). From Corn Peak head straight north along the main Oquirrh Ridge until you reach the peak. This route does have SEVERAL RIVER CROSSINGS
, so bring a spare pair of shoes.
The primative Ophir Canyon Trailhead. One of the many river crossings in Ophir Canyon
The quiet town of Ophir Utah. Just beyond the main road is an RV park, then a Public Campground and then finally the Ophir Canyon Trailhead
There are some camping possibilities at a public campground just after the town of Ophir, near the mouth of the Ophir Canyon Trailhead. Camping is allowed on and around this peak. In most locations fires are allowed, however Fireworks are not allowed anywhere and/or anytime in the Oquirrh Range.
A late winter view of Kelsey Peak from the summit of Rocky Peak. Photo Credit Ericwillhite
Gear You Will Want to Bring
If comming from Ophir and/or Picnic Canyons you will want to bring a spare pair of shoes due to the several river crossings.
Bug spray is, for any summit in the Oquirrh Range, always worth carrying with you. Trust me....the bugs in Oquirrhs will make you think that you are somewhere in the Uinta Mountains.
During the winter a beacon, probe, shovel, avalanche skills and a partner should always be taken with you. When spring arrives it can sometimes pay off to have crampons/snowshoes with you. Skis are highly recommended. [img:621692:aligncenter:medium:A late winter view of Kelsey Peak from the summit of Rocky Peak. Photo Credit Ericwillhite ]