Ever since reading that Mount Raymond was one of the top five favorite Wasatch peaks of Mr. Wasatch (who’s been to the top of all of the range’s major peaks), I figured I just had to do this hike. At first I figured David and I could do it in the same day as Devil’s Castle (driving up Little Cottonwood to do that one first, and then back up Big Cottonwood to do Raymond second), but in hindsight I’m glad we didn’t do that since it would have been a long day hiking in the hot afternoon sun. We instead decided to sandwich a summit of Mount Raymond in between Circle All Peak and Gobblers Knob for a fun Wasatch three-for-one hike.
We met at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon at 7am and then rode up to the Butler Fork Trailhead together. The start of the trail was a little steep but we made good time through the initial part which went through an evergreen forest, and after crossing a little bridge, we then entered some aspen groves. Maybe it was just the way the early morning light was filtering through the trees, but I’d say the aspen groves along this early part of the trail were among the most scenic ones I’ve ever been in. We caught sight of a deer a couple hundred feet ahead of us, which isn’t unusual, but it was probably the first male deer I’ve seen in the Wasatch.
I figured we were already lucky to catch sight of a buck on our hike, but just a short while later we came across a large moose. My previous encounters with moose usually started out by hearing a crashing noise as the moose made his way through the trees, but this moose somehow snuck up on us. Luckily we were talking and still had a good fifty feet between us when we spotted him. After pausing to observe us, he turned away from us and started walking along the same trail we were on. We followed him up the trail, but upon rounding the corner he’d gone past, we could no longer see him. I would have expected him to cause a noisy
A short time later we arrived at a split in the trail, at which point we turned left to go to the top of Circle All Peak. Our views were still obscured by trees, but after walking a few hundred yards from the split we topped out on the peak. From here we had a nice view of Kessler Peak and the Cottonwood Ridge to the south of us on the other side of Big Cottonwood Canyon. After a short break we turned around and took the other trail at the split to
We continued through more impressive aspen groves as we made our way closer to the saddle between these two peaks. Seriously, if you like aspen groves then this is the hike for you. I usually don’t care for them, but this hike was changing my mind about them. Some of the trunks of these aspen trees were especially thick compared to ones I’ve seen in other areas of the Wasatch. We passed a few sparse patches of wildflowers as we got closer to the saddle between Raymond and Gobblers Knob, and then turned west.
At this point it started getting hotter at the same time that the trail steepened again, which made me glad that we had not tried starting this hike in the afternoon after already doing Devil’s Castle the last time we’d been hiking. We definitely could have done it, but that wouldn’t have been a very enjoyable experience. We noticed the expired remains of what were likely some really bright wildflowers about a month before (summer conditions had come early for the second year in a row), and as we made our way higher we could now see downtown Salt Lake City off in the distance to the northwest.
The dirt trail led us to the base of a little knife edge ridge which is what had first drawn my interest when looking for pictures of this hike. I was curious to see if I could make it to the top without using my hands, but after making it most of the way up without doing so, it became more awkward so I decided not to be a hero and just use them. The south side of the ridge is a little exposed, with trees somehow growing straight out of the rock on most of the north facing parts of the ridge. There were only a few short spots where it helped to use our hands, but for the most part it was just off-trail hiking over the terrain which was now composed mainly of big fractured stone slabs. The final section was clear of trees, with impressive views in every direction from on top of the summit knob.
The summit offers some of the best views around. Despite Mount Olympus having a slightly better summit view in my opinion, you can’t see downtown Salt Lake City from that summit, which you can see from Mount Raymond.
We made our way back down to the saddle between Mount Raymond and Gobblers Knob, and luckily there was a cool breeze and more shade on the early part of the ridge leading up to Gobblers Knob. We topped out on a couple false summits along the way, but eventually made it to our third and final peak of the day.
While snacking on top, an older hiker (I’m guessing in his 70’s) joined us, who told us that he had come up the steeper east ridge coming up from Millcreek Canyon. I’m hoping I can still be doing what I love when I’m his age. He was only the second hiker we’d seen the entire day (the other just grunted at us as he was coming down from Raymond and we were going up), which I guess is to be expected since we were hiking on a Tuesday.
The hike back down was easy and uneventful, besides me getting a minor ankle sprain. I sprained it playing basketball earlier in the summer, and had unfortunately sprained it once on each hike since then as well (this time it happened stepping on a patch of loose dirt covering the root of a plant on the side of the trail). Guess I don’t heal as quickly as I used to.
Mount Raymond was definitely the highlight of the day, although the views from all three of these little peaks were quite nice. I don’t think I’d put it in my top five, but it would likely crack my top ten favorite Wasatch hikes. It’s another one of those nice hikes that you can do in half a day as well (after our hike I took my car in for some repairs and worked a half day at the office), which is nice when you may not have the time for something longer. All in all, it was a fun hike that I’d recommend for anyone. While it did have a couple little scrambling moves, I think they’d be easy enough for any first-timer who isn’t overly afraid of heights.
DISTANCE: 10 miles roundtrip
BUTLER FORK TRAILHEAD: 7,120 feet
CIRCLE ALL PEAK SUMMIT ELEVATION: 8,707 feet
MOUNT RAYMOND SUMMIT ELEVATION: 10,241 feet
GOBBLERS KNOB SUMMIT ELEVATION: 10,246 feet
ELEVATION GAIN: 4,150 feet
DIFFICULTY (MOUNT RAYMOND NORTHEAST RIDGE): Class 2+
TIME: 6 hours