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October 3, 2015 / oneworld82

Utah! Ogden and the Wasatch National Forest

I grew up being, for some sort of reason, a big fan of the Utah Jazz. At the time, eveyone supported the Chicago Bulls, and I felt compelled to distinguish myself from the crowd and support the Mailman and his partner-in-crime John Stockton. Little I knew about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (sic) and of how beautiful this State was. Finally, over a rainy Dallas weekend and a shiny Utah one I decided to bite the bullet and fly to Salt Lake City.

I had been wanting to do some serious hiking since the Red Rock Canyon in NV, and Utah seemed like an obvious choice after Colorado. By checking various websites, it appeared clear that you really don’t have to go far from Salt Lake City to find outdoor adventures. My choice fell on Ogden, which seems relatively little-known in mainstream tourist circles but that appeared to offer plenty of recreational opportunities.

After landing in SLC, my friend and I rented a car and drove about half a hour to our destination. We had booked a room at the Hilton Garden Inn Ogden for $40+8,000 HHonors points per night; it turned out to be a great bargain, as the hotel was real nice and as a HHilton HHonors Gold we got free buffet breakfast and water. Plus, the hotel is located right in the middle of town, two blocks away from historic 25th St, the main drag of Ogden.

Ogden is a cute little town nestled between the plains of the Great Salt Lake and the mountains. It’s home to Weber State University, so it has a thriving, “alternative” nightlife. Historic 25th St is, like I mentioned, the heart of Ogden – restaurants and bars abound in this part of town. While the majority of the establishments are geared towards a college crowd, there are also some nicer restaurants where you would take a serious date to.

Anyways, the main reason to come to Ogden was hiking. There are dozens of hiking trails around town, but as we were feeling adventurous we decided to go for Big Lomond Peak – likely the most challenging of all the peaks in the area. At 15.2 miles out and back, the 9.712ft high peak looked like a good adventure for the weekend.

After a hearty breakfast at the hotel (which was plentiful and delicious – many hot and cold options to chose from, including made-to-order omelets) we started driving through the Ogden divide towards Morgan to get to the Ben Lomond trailhead. Once there, we soon realized we had not considered one, little particular about Utah this time of the year: the summit was still covered in snow. Ouch.

In any case, we started going up through an amazing trail and after about 2 hours or so of climbing (alternating steep and flat portions) we reached the snow. At first it was just some snow here and there… but then that became a couple feet (or, in certain parts, more) of snow. I think it took us about 2 hours to walk a mile, not only because the snow made it difficult to walk but also because we could not easily locate the trail.

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When it became obvious that we would not be able to climb the final loop to the very top, we settled to keep on the main trail to come down to the trailhead. The descent was quite arduous at first – for a hour or so it was really hard to understand where we were going and where the trail was; but once we cleared the higher part of the trail, the path became clearer and the forested scenery more than compensated us for the trials of the previous hours.

To be fair, all the trail was really spectacular. The weather was in the mid-70s, and the scenery we enjoyed over the adjacent valley was really fantastic. It was an epic hike – ~11 miles in total – in an idyllic locale.

After getting dinner and going to bed, in the morning we set off to visit the Wasatch National Forest. The park is about a hour drive from Ogden, through secondary state roads passing through endless farms. The scenery is really great around here. After paying a fee to enter the park, we started driving heading to the famous Mirror Lake. The scenery throughout the park was magnificent, with a few lakes and vista points here and there. Unfortunately, even in late May the lake was still frozen, but this did not detract from the scenery in the least.

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After leaving the forest we spent a couple hours in Park City, which lived up to the hype with it’s beautiful and fancy city center. The mountains here look really nice, and this is definitely both a wintertime and summertime destination, where I look forward to return soon.

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Overall. this was a short but insightful weekend in Utah. I discovered a state that for some reason had been under my radar until that point, and I surely look forward to more visits to this spectacular piece of Rocky Mountains.

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