Patsy Marley at 10,525 ft is located in Utah’s Wasatch-Cache National Forest just outside Alta Ski Resort (near the resorts North East boundary). In the neighborhood of higher and more impressive peaks like Mount Wolverine, Sunset Peak, Devil’s Castle, and Mount Superior this peak is easily overlooked. However, being located on the north east edge of the Wolverine Cirque this peak offers outstanding views into both Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons, and great views of Grizzly Gulch and Twin Lakes. Climbing it just to see the impressive Wolverine Cirque, with it 50 degree drops, is as good a reason as any to summit this peak.
From the Big Cottonwood Canyon side Patsy Marley is located just behind Mount Millicent of Brighton Ski Resort, and from the Little Cottonwood Canyon Patsy Marley is clearly visible from Alta on it’s east end. From Patsy Marley it is a quick jaunt along the ridge of the Wolverine Cirque to Mount Wolverine and Mount Tuscarora.
If accessing Patsy Marley from Alta one may pass through the Grizzly Gulch, which is an open museum of the mining activity in Utah at the turn of 20th century (or even earlier). There are dozens of abandoned mines in the steep canyon, along with old boilers and pipes, and other relics of days gone by.
Some claim "Patsy Marley" (sometimes spelled “Patsey Marley”) is named after a noted Madame from the silver mining days. While others assert -- with more credibility -- that the name comes from a mining claim in Grizzly Gulch named after the owner, an Irish fellow with a lengthy history in Alta mining.
When approaching Patsy Marley from the Alta side, one will notice a large rectangular shaped white structure on it's westerly aspect. This structure, which looks a bit like a billboard but without writing, is actually owned by ATT and is a reflector for their signals.
Patsy Marley and Neighbors as viewed from Big Cottonwood Canyon
Patsy Marley can be accessed from either Alta Ski Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon, or from Brighton Ski Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
From downtown Salt Lake City, follow these directions to reach Brighton Ski Resort:
I-15 S toward LAS VEGAS/CHEYENNE. 8.3 miles
Take the I-215 exit- exit number 302- toward BELT ROUTE. 0.2 miles
Merge onto I-215 E via the exit- on the left- toward SKI AREAS. 5.1 miles
Take the 6200 SO. exit- exit number 6- toward SKI AREAS/SOLITUDE / BRIGHTON/SNOWBIRD / ALTA. 0.2 miles
Take the ramp toward SKI AREAS/SOLITUDE / BRIGHTON/SNOWBIRD / ALTA. 0.1 miles
Turn RIGHT onto UT-190 E/E 6200 S. Continue to follow UT-190 E. 1.6 miles
Turn LEFT onto E BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON RD/UT-190. 14.0 miles
End at Brighton UT
Park near the Millicent ski lift, as the beginning of your hike with be toward Twin Lakes.
Or alternatively to reach Alta Ski Resort continue past the intersection with Big Cottonwood Canyon RD, and follow Wasatch BLVD over to Little Cottonwood Canyon. Provided that you don't make any turns off of the main road, you will eventually drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Alta Ski Resort. Once at Alta park at the Grizzly Parking lot, as your hike will begin in Grizzly Gulch.
Accessing Patsy Marley from Twin Lakes.
If hiking, snowshoeing, or skiing in from Brighton make your way to Twin Lakes Reservoir, which is visible from Brighton Ski Resort as one heads west toward Mount Millicent (on the west side of the parking lot). From Twin Lakes head to the Twin Lakes Pass (at approximately 10,000 ft); once you gain the pass follow the ridge line to your left (south) as it eventually curves to the west, and scramble up to the Peak of Patsy Marley. From the dam wall at Twin Lakes to the top of Twin Lakes pass is just over 1 km (0.6 miles) as the crow files, so one might double that distance for the actual walking distance. And from the pass to the peak is about 0.7 km (less than 0.5 miles) as the crow flies.
If hiking, snowshoeing, or skiing in from Alta, the most direct route is via Grizzly Gulch to Twin Lakes Pass via the Twin Lakes Pass road (cat track in the winter). Once you gain the pass, which is less than 2 miles walking distance, follow the ridge line to your right (south) as it eventually curves to the west, and scramble up to the Peak of Patsy Marley. For a longer hike, gain Catherine’s pass to the south of Mount Tuscarora, head North gaining 450 vertical feet to Mount Tuscarora. From Tuscarora go west to Mount Wolverine, and then follow the cirque west and north to Patsy Marley.
All of the routes mentioned above are fun, half day backcountry ski routes.
Warning to Winter Climbers.
Neither permits nor fees required. Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon occasionally close due to avalanche dangers, but this is only during and immediately following some large snow storms. Parking is free at both Brighton as well as at the Alta Grizzly Gulch lot.
There are many walk-in campgrounds in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Alternatively, free camping is permitted in the nearby Mt Olympus, Broads Fork Twin Peaks, or Lone Peak Wilderness areas as long as it is done at least 100 ft away from trails.