|Estimated Hike Time:||30 - 45 minutes|
|Trail Type:||Out and Back|
|Elevation Low:||5,028 feet|
|Elevation High:||5,394 feet|
|Total Elevation Gain:||366 feet|
|Optimal Season:||Mid Spring to Mid Fall|
|Best Access Point:||Salt Lake City|
The hike to Ensign Peak offers some fantastic views of Salt Lake Valley, as well as the surrounding areas.
The trail to Ensign Peak is just as much a historical journey as it is a physical one; rich with the history of the Mormon pioneers who first settled this valley. Ensign Peak was named on July 26th 1847, two days after they arrived at this valley. According to the Ensign State Mutual Improvement Associations and the Utah Pioneer Trails And Landmarks Association, "Brigham Young and party climbed to this point and with the aid of field glasses made a careful survey of the mountains, canyons and streams... Wilford Woodruff, first to ascend the peak, suggested it was a fitting place to 'set up an ensign' (Isaiah 11:12). It was then named Ensign Peak. Subsequently the stars and stripes were raised here."
From the top, you'll be able to see views of downtown Salt Lake City, including the University of Utah, the state capitol building and temple square. Also visible is Emigration Canyon to the East, and the Kennecott Copper Mine, Oquirrh Mountains, the Salt Lake City airport, and the Great Salt Lake to the West.
- gps coordinates of trailhead: 40.791970, -111.888221
The trailhead is located at Ensign Peak Nature Park, which is more of a historical monument than an actual park. There are wheelchair/stroller ramps leading from the street to the trailhead itself, and the first part of the trail is paved, making it accessible as well. The only parking that is offered is what you can find on the street itself, so on a busy day there is a bit of an extra hike walking from your parking spot to the park.
Ensign Peak Nature Park contains a lot of historical information listed on a series of plaques around the circumference of the park. It's worth taking some extra time to learn about this historical significance of this peak.
Once you hit the trail itself, you'll soon see signs to the "Vista Mound" off to the left. Vista Mound is a historical marker a few hundred feet up the mountain, and provides a chance for the non-hiker to get some good views of the surrounding areas. The path to Vista Mound is paved, and not too steep, making it accessible to wheelchairs or strollers.
As you progress along the rocky trail through scrub oak and grasses, there are many offshoots where people have strayed from the main trail. Fortunately, there are signs pointing you in the right direction. Please stay on the main trail because the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation, in conjunction with the City of Salt Lake City, are attempting to restore some parts of this trail.
The trail continues on and eventually wraps around the mountain itself heading up the back. There are some resting spots along the way, as well as some informational plaques describing the views that can be seen from the trail. The amazing views aren't the only thing awaiting you at the top; a monument stands at the peak itself celebrating the early Mormon pioneers and the founding of Salt Lake City. Unfortunately, there are some who feel the need to disrespect historic monuments with vandalism, and the signs of vandalism can be seen here as well.
Posted By: James Meyer