Earlier this summer I summited four Utah county high points (Kane, Iron, Rich, and Cache) on a couple of long camping trips with my wife in our RV. This weekend I set out alone in my Jeep and bagged four more: Thurston Peak (Davis & Morgan), Bull Mountain (Box Elder), and Willard Peak (Weber). I drove to northern Utah on Friday afternoon and arrived near Francis Peak that evening. There was a lot of traffic on the Farmington Canyon road and I was worried about finding a place to camp. I reached the top of the canyon and ended up easily finding a camp spot just north of Francis Peak. As usual I watched the changing colors of the sunset and read a book until bedtime.
On Saturday morning I drove just under one mile to the Thurston Peak trailhead. It’s a narrow road with few places to pull off, and at one point I had to back up to let a vehicle going the opposite direction pass. I reached the TH where there were already four other vehicles and very little room to turn around and park. I did my best and then began hiking. With the sun just rising to the east, the views to the west were outstanding. There’s a decent trail most of the way to Thurston Peak but the last third of a mile is along a ridge with no trail.
I reached the summit at 9,706′ and had only seen a few people along the way, either trail runners or hunters. A marker at the summit explained how the peak got its name. Similar to a couple of weeks earlier on Bridger Peak I found a brand new log in the summit register, but this time I was the first to sign it. On the return hike I saw a few more people, still mostly trail runners but perhaps one or two regular hikers like myself.
I spent much of the afternoon driving down into the valley, then north into Idaho. Just inside Idaho I stopped to check out a concrete navigation arrow near Strevell. Then I worked my way west and south back into Utah and the highest point in Box Elder County and the Raft River Mountains at 9,934′. The high point was only about 250′ from the road but I had to walk there and back twice because I forgot to find and log the geocache the first time. I drove back down over 2,000′ elevation and found a place to camp near the head of Onemile Creek. I ate some dinner and watched the sunset, and ended up going to bed early that evening.
I woke up pretty early on Sunday morning and drove back to the nearest paved road, close to the navigation arrow, and then made breakfast. I entered Utah and fueled up in Snowville and then drove through Brigham City on my way to Willard Basin. Once again there was a shitload of people on the narrow and winding road. I got to my parking spot near Willard Basin and started hiking before 10:00 AM. I didn’t see anyone on the trail the entire time I was hiking, although there were people everywhere on other trails and roads. The hike was short, under three miles round trip, with about 1,000′ elevation gain.
I was slightly nervous about the last bit of hiking to the summit because in the satellite imagery it looked quite rugged. In reality it wasn’t too difficult and I made it to the summit shortly after 11:00 AM. It was kind of strange to see and hear so many people nearby but not actually encounter anyone during the hike. It felt really great to conquer 24 of the 29 Utah county high points. But also, the remaining five are the most difficult. I hope to knock them out in the coming year or two–it’d be nice to finish them before I turn 50!
Photo Gallery: Thurston, Bull, and Willard