First Attempt - Dead ends and Stomach Flu
Provo Peak has been looming over me for years. My sister and I had planned on hiking it last year but ended up not going. Last week my brother and I decided we were going to do it. We looked up several posts for directions to the trailhead and looked on various maps to familiarize ourselves with the area. We decided to climb it on Thursday (July 15).
After a quick stop for breakfast at 7:00 am Thursday Morning we were on our way up the Squaw Peak Road (SPR). We found what looked to us like the trailhead a few miles passed the Rock Canyon Campground. We got out, grabbed our packs, and headed up the trail. This trail we found quickly dead-ended at a fire pit. Apparently, not the right trail. We got back in the car and found what looked to be another possible trail head. We headed up that trail and quickly found a switch back in the SPR. Again not the right trail. Third time is a charm they say...and the third trailhead looking area that we found put us right underneath the west ridge - right where we should be. Perfect.
We started up what looked like an ATV trail and within 5 minutes I started feeling really nauseous. I felt like I was going to puke any second. Somehow, I painfully hiked up 40 minutes worth of ATV trail and it suddenly dead-ended. We couldn't see where the trail was supposed to go after that. Frustrated and Nauseous, I decided we should probably just to turn around and call it a day. We took the SPR all the way to Hobble Creek with a quick stop and 15 minute climb to the top of the crest at the Springville overlook. We made it to the top of something at least!
Second Attempt - Successful Summit!
After a few days recovering from what turned out to be a nasty stomach flu, I checked a few more blogs and found out that on our first attempt we completely missed a turnoff to the West Ridge only about 10 minutes up the ATV trail. Somehow we had missed a cairn and huge arrow of rocks pointing to the turnoff.
Despite my brother's very pregnant wife being 2 days passed her due date, Wednesday July 21, 2010 we decided to attempt the craziness that is Provo Peak. We again stopped for a quick breakfast at about 7:00 AM and headed up Provo Canyon and the SPR. Armed with more detailed information and the knowledge gained from our last weeks visit. We hit the trail-head just below the West Ridge of Provo Peak about an hour ahead of our last week's trip. We started on the ATV trail at 8:10 AM. We quickly found the cairn and arrow.
Keep an eye out on the right hand side of the trail for this:
The trail goes through an aspen grove for a few hundred feet and puts us right up on the West ridge. Once on the ridge it's straight up. Up, up, up. The ridge was steep and I had to stop a lot. Despite the steepness and the short-windedness, we made it to the summit in just under 3 hours. My brother made it to the top at 11:00am and I followed after a few minutes later. We signed our name on the small registry that was placed in 2009.
If the registry accurately reflects the amount of people that have climbed since last year, there certainly are not a lot of people that climb this peak. We were the only ones on the trail the whole morning both days we were here. Short, Grueling, and very worth it.
After about 30 minutes of hanging out at the top we hiked down to the south peak and then followed the south peak's west ridge - bushwhacking our way down and eventually making our way across a ravine, through the aspen grove, and down to the ATV trail. I would not suggest taking this route down. If you do go down to the south peak, take the 15 minutes to go back up to the north peak and take the trail down. You will probably save yourself an hour and a lot of pain.
Travel (from Provo) 45min. - 1 hour from Provo to the trailhead.
Ascent - 2-4 hours (most records on the registry show ~3 hours)
Descent - 1-2 hours
Return Travel - 45min. - 1 hour
Don't forget to add in the amount of time you want to spend up on the peak.
Total time: 5-7 hours - This makes for a great half day trip (unless you count the 2 days of recovery time J/K.)
Water - Because you will be hiking on an exposed ridge the entire climb, make sure to bring plenty of water. I drank an entire 2 Liters and a 32 ounce Power-aide on the hike. I do tend to drink more than most, however. It usually pays off to bring more than you need rather than go thirsty, especially in the summer.
Snacks - grab some Granola bars or something light to eat. 4-6 hours of hiking can sure make you hungry. Snacks that are too sugary might not be a good idea.
Bug spray - Mosquitoes can get thick at the bottom part of the trail during parts of the summer.
From Provo heading up Provo canyon:
-Take the Squaw Peak road turnoff on the right hand side (only a few miles from Provo) and RESET YOUR TRIP METER.
-Drive the paved switch backs passing several archery and gun ranges. After 4 miles you will come to a fork with a brown sign. Take a left towards Hope Campground
and Rock Canyon campground
(going to the right will take you to the squaw peak overlook).
-The pavement should end at Hope Campground
at about mile 5.5. The road turns into a well groomed dirt road going down and up to a look out
above rock canyon (8.0 miles)and down to rock canyon campground
(9.5 miles). At this point Cascade has been on your left for most of the drive so far and Provo Peak should now be directly in front of you. You should see a profile of the west ridge which you will be climbing.
-After Rock Canyon Campground
the road gets very rough. I have seen smaller cars on this road but I would highly recomend a vehicle with High clearance. 4W drive is not necessary. If you are in a smaller vehicle expect to add 15-20 minutes of extra driving time.
-Between miles 12.5 and 12.8 you will start to see a few little turn offs, parking lots, and campsites. Keep going up the rough, rocky, windy switch backs.
-At mile 13.6 you will come to small summit where you will see a large round-about type turn-off on the right side of the road. Park there and look across the road to see the start of the ATV trail.
-Hike up 10-20 minutes up the trail and keep an eye out for a rock cairn and rock arrow on the right side of the trail. Take this trail through an aspen grove to the west ridge. Follow the ridge to the top. If you happen to lose the trail on the ridge there is only one right way to go...up. You'll find the trail again soon enough. Enjoy the beautiful views. Good luck!
Looking down at West Ridge Trail
My bro on the summit
Me at the Summit
Looking at the West ridge and true Summit from the south peak