Ascent of Notch Peak on 2020-05-16

Climber: Rebecca Peterson

Others in Party:Kenobi
the dog
Date:Saturday, May 16, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Hi-Clearance Vehicle
Peak:Notch Peak
    Elevation:9654 ft / 2942 m

Ascent Trip Report

This hike has earned a place on my favorite peaks list. It was quite a drive from the SLC area out to the trailhead (took about 3 hours), but worth it. I arrived at the trailhead at about 9 AM and was surprised to see four or five other cars already there, along with a few groups of people who had camped along the road that led to the trailhead. The dirt road that you follow from the highway was easily passable for the first about 8 miles. After that, you turn off and head more directly toward the trailhead and the road gets more rough. I was in a CRV and was glad that I had driven that car and not my Yaris. The extra clearance and all-wheel drive was nice. Had I been in my Yaris, I would have had to have parked about 1/2 mile or so from the trailhead and walked in the rest of the way.

There isn't any shade to speak of beyond what you get in the canyon itself. This is not a hike I would want to do on a hot day, or in the afternoon.

The trail: The first mile of the trail follows what looks like an old ATV road - though ATVs are not allowed past the trailhead now. After about a mile, the hike gets more interesting as you start to enter the limestone canyons and the walls get taller as the canyon gets narrower. The trail is easy to follow for the first almost 3 miles. After mile 3, there are various routes you can follow - none of which have very distinct trails. On the way in, after mile 3 I stayed high on hiker's right and followed various hiker-created cairns. While that route eventually got me to my destination, it is not the route I would suggest as it requires hiking over some steep sections of scree and some bushwhacking, and some degree of creative routefinding. The last climb to the top is steep, but you start to get a glimpse of the massive cliff faces in the area, and it is breathtaking. At the top, you can peek over the edge. The view and sheer magnitude of the drop is hard to comprehend. After a nice snack on top (there are some great places to sit and enjoy the view, if you don't mind sitting on the edge of a huge cliff), and there is a nice log you can sit on a ways back from the cliff if you don't want to sit by the edge, I headed back down. I decided to hike from the saddle up to the bump that is just to the east of the peak so that I could get a good view of the cliff face. I recommend going that way because I discovered that there is a nice route down from that bump back to the trail - and the views up on top are beautiful. On the way down I followed the dry stream bed/trail. I highly recommend this as the trail to follow down. There is a mix of mild scrambling, and just good hiking by doing down the stream bed. There is one section that has a large dry-fall area that I by-passed by going to the hiker's left from the stream bed and then I connected back up with the main trail. I imagine that area could be downclimbed, but I didn't want to try it without being familiar with it, so I went around it. The path that I took down, is the way I would take up (and back down) if I were to do this hike again. On the GPS map, the route I would take is the route that stays to the west, not the one that goes up to the east at about mile 3.

Kid friendly? Probably not unless the kids are teenagers who are aware that they are not invincible and that cliff edges are truly cliff edges. The amount of climbing and route-finding necessary would be challenging - plus, up on top, the edge is really just that - the edge. There is nothing that would prevent tragedy should a child wander over to the edge. Yikes.

Dog friendly? Yes - my dog had a great time hiking up this one, though, beware because the rocks can be sharp. You may want to consider bringing shoes because the limestone is not very forgiving and can slice dog paws. Also, there isn't any water along the way, so you will want to be sure to bring plenty.

Ibuprofen arthritis rating - one to five scale - I give this hike a 3.5. It is long, and there are some steep parts, but overall, it was so enjoyable that any discomfort was worth it. Hiking down the streambed was a lot of fun and the scenery was interesting in a very desolate sort of way.

Bottom line, would I do it again? Absolutely. I'd like to take my family up there sometime. It was a great hike! If I were to do it again, I'd camp near the trailhead to avoid the long drive out early in the morning, and I'd get an earlier start.

You can find the GPX file here (apparently there are too many data points to import it into Peakbagger):
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2969 ft / 904 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2904 ft / 885 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8 mi / 12.9 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2819 ft / 859 m
    Distance:3.9 mi / 6.3 km
    Start Trailhead:6835 ft / 2083 m
    Time:2 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2904 ft / 885 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2754 ft / 839 m; Extra: 150 ft / 45m
    Gain on way out:150 ft / 45 m
    Distance:4.1 mi / 6.6 km
    End Trailhead:6900 ft / 2103 m
    Time:2 Hours 10 Minutes

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