Picnic Canyon

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 40.38343°N / 112.22998°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking, Mountaineering, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Sign the Climber's Log


The only “official” (as in no bushwacking) late spring, summer and fall trail for Lowe Peak, Flat Top Peak as well as Lewiston Peak is Picnic Canyon. Over the 5 miles (one way distance to Lowe Peak) you can expect to see wildflowers, a historic cabin, thick Aspen Groves, many outstanding view points and several large herds of Elk and Deer. Perhaps the most defining feature of this route is the several required river crossings. Ranging from ankle to knee deep, these crossing can be expected just about any time of year. Many local ranchers allow their cattle to “free range” in both Ophir Canyon and Picnic Canyon so be alert for bulls in the thicker coverage areas of the trail.
Troy and Matt Climbing Lowe PeakTroy and Matt just about to reach the summit of Lowe Peak

Getting There

From I-80 get off at the Tooele/Stansbury exit (Exit 99) and follow State Route 36 for approx. 20+ miles to a junction. Make a left onto State Route 73 and continue driving it for 7 miles until you see a turn off for the town of Ophir. Drive through the small town sticking to their version of a main street. Soon the speed bumps will disappear and the road will turn to dirt. After passing a public campground the trailhead will finally come into view.
OphirThe small town of Ophir
The Ophir Canyon/Picnic Canyon TrailheadThe official and very primative Trailhead

Route Description

Starting at the end of the Ophir Canyon dirt road (approx. 1.5 miles) the trail starts by immediately crossing the river. After fording the river several times too many the important junction will come up within a 1/2 mile of leaving the trailhead. At this unmarked junction you will have the choice to go left (up Ophir Canyon) or right (up Picnic Canyon). Make a RIGHT at this meadow and follow the sometimes faint trail up Picnic Canyon. Soon the trail will leave the open meadows and start heading uphill through several Aspen Groves. Every now and then the trail has some serious side growth but luckily the cows mostly keep this growth at bay. After another mile and a half a rustic/ historic cabin will appear on your right. This cabin is open to the public so please respect the cabin as well as the surrounding entire area by leaving it how you found it. Please protect this cabin so that future generations may enjoy it to. Just beyond the cabin a large clearing will be encountered and the trail will make a sharp left up and out of Picnic Canyon.
The Picnic Canyon CabinThe historic Cabin
Lowe PeakLowe Peak from the head of Picnic Canyon

To get to Lowe Peak continue following the trail past the old fence posts, until it reaches the main Oquirrh Ridge. At the ridge head straight north across the ridge to Dead Ox Pass. At Dead Ox Pass a large false summit will come into view. From here the trail will split, one going across the slopes of Lowe Peak, and the other continuing up the ridge. At this point it is quicker to follow the ridge as it heads up steeply to the summit of Lowe Peak. If you look closely enough there is a rough trail up most of this ridge.
Lowe PeakOnce here it is much easier to follow the ridge
Climbing Lowe PeakIf you follow the trail to the left you will eventually have to regain the ridge again like we did

Once at the summit of Lowe Peak is best to follow the same ascent route if heading back down in the late spring, summer and fall months. However it should be mentioned that if there is enough snow coverage on the upper reaches of the mountain it is much faster to “bushwack” down into Ophir Canyon to the main Ophir trail. Both Ophir Canyon and Picnic Canyon start at the same trailhead.
The east summit view off Lowe PeakThe view to the east from Lowe Peak
The summit view off of Lowe PeakThe view to the north from Lowe Peak


As mentioned above this route has a significant amount of wildlife. Several large herds of Elk call Picnic Canyon and its surrounding terrain their year round home. These herds are known to be over 80 strong and they are always a privilage to witness. Please be respectful of these creatures and give them plenty of room. Deer are also common sights to see in this canyon even though their numbers are not as strong as those of the Elk. More than likely you will see a grazing cow before you catch a glimps of any true wildlife.
40+ Elk on Lowe PeakElk on the southeast slopes of Lowe Peak

Essential Gear

A spare pair of shoes is more than a good idea for anyone touring this area. During the late spring through early fall bug spray is also more than recommended. In the winter months skis, snowshoes and/or crampons are the only efficent mode of travel here. This route DOES have some serious avalanche risk so be sure to carry a beacon, probe, shovel and a partner with you during any winter attempts.
River CrossingOne of the too many river crossings on the way to Picnic Canyon



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