Ascent of Thurston Peak on 2015-10-10

Climber: Anthony Wilkinson

Others in Party:Ashley
Date:Saturday, October 10, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Thurston Peak
    Elevation:9706 ft / 2958 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was a beautiful fall hike on the crest of the Wasatch Range. We drove up Farmington Canyon to Francis Peak, then continued on the rough(ish) 4x4 road to a junction where the trail continues northwest or branches northeast to drop down to the Smith Creek Lakes area where we parked on a wide ridge-top saddle.

The path was easy to follow along the Great Western Trail from the 4x4 parking area to the southern slope of Thurston Peak itself. Cairns guided us for the remainder of the route to the top. The views in all directions were spectacular as this was a calm, clear fall day.

Note on potential trailhead locations: if you drive to the trailhead in a high-clearance four wheel drive vehicle, it is possible to drive an additional 0.7 miles (beyond our chosen parking area) on the 4x4 trail to a small turnaround/parking area where the rough road becomes a single-track trail (we did so to make sure it was passable). This final parking area is located on the western slope of the peak with communications equipment on top, visible to the north of Francis Peak (which is the location of the large FAA installation, the "Golf Balls"). However, this 0.7 mile section of road is one-way only: it is not wide enough on either the uphill or downhill side for a vehicle to pull over and let another pass. If you encounter another vehicle coming the opposite direction, either one driver or the other will be required to travel in reverse for a distance on the 4x4 trail to reach any pullout location. This is inconvenient, takes a long time, and may make some drivers uncomfortable due to the adjacent mountain face dropping off several thousand feet to the west. After experiencing this first-hand on our way out (including the reversing Toyota Taco driver that we had encountered ripping off a mud flap on a large rock while working his way back to a pullout location), we'd recommend either parking at Francis Peak or the junction described above where we had parked for our hike.
Summary Total Data
    Round-Trip Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 0 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 0 Minutes

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