Grandeur Peak is one of the most easily-attainable summits in the Salt Lake City area. Forming the western end of the ridge separating Parley’s Canyon from Millcreek Canyon, Grandeur Peak’s summit offers outstanding views in all directions. At 8,299 feet, this mountain is big enough to provide a challenge and a relief from the heat of summer, but not so big that it will take all day or tax your ability to handle elevation.
The trail begins at the upper end of the Church Fork picnic area where the narrow, winding road (watch for oncoming traffic) ends at a very small parking area. On busy days overflow parking is available along Millcreek Canyon Road at the base of the picnic area. From the parking area the trail follows the stream through the lower reaches of Church Fork, a small drainage on the north side of Millcreek Canyon. This side canyon was a placer mining claim that was donated to the Boy Scouts of America in 1918.
At 0.1 miles the trail to Grandeur Peak intersects the Pipeline Trail. At the sign, veer left and then immediately right to continue on the Grandeur Peak Trail. As the trail continues to climb gradually along Church Fork Creek it is shaded by maple, oak, and fir. Horsetails and various wildflowers fill out the understory. Rock climbers will want to note the limestone outcrop on the left a little beyond the intersection with the Pipeline Trail. Known as the Church Fork Wall, this little crag features three bolted sport routes in the 5.10 to 5.11 range.
A series of switchbacks begins at 0.8 miles. The shade of the forest canopy gives way to more open terrain as the trail gets a bit steeper, winding through Gambel oaks toward the Millcreek Ridge crest. After the seventh switchback you’ll see an unmaintained route that leaves the trail heading east to 8,316-foot Church Fork Peak. Staying on the Grandeur Peak Trail, you will reach the crest of the ridge at a small saddle with great views of the Salt Lake Valley to the north. From here the summit of Grandeur Peak is obvious to the west, and the trail follows the ridge to ascend the remaining 680 feet in about a half mile.
Don’t be fooled by the false summit, a rounded knob with gnarled juniper trees. The true summit is only 0.2 miles further ahead. The trail winds around just to the south of the summit before climbing the final stretch through juniper and mountain mahogany. At 8,299 feet, the summit offers hikers commanding views in all directions. The Salt Lake Valley lies to the west, and the rocky crest of Mount Olympus is just to the south. Looking back east, Church Fork Peak is the next major summit along the Millcreek ridge, and Mountain Dell and Little Dell reservoirs are to the northeast in Parley’s canyon.
Grandeur Peak makes for a nice hike all year. In winter, plan on parking on the road, as the picnic area will be closed. Bring your favorite traction devices: snow is rather quickly compacted into ice along this popular route. Snowshoes are rarely necessary due to the regular traffic, but this is an attractive route for powder-stomping fun right after a sizeable storm.