As a family we have a list of rules to live by. For example:
Rule 1: Never put off an adventure for tomorrow, when you can do it today.
Rule 2: If you wait for everything to be perfect… You’ll never go.
As the summer heats up, I find myself yearning for the crisp alpine air come Friday. All the local trails are now too hot on most days, and so we headed up to Snowbasin last weekend to escape. And as you’ll see, this particular day became a rule 3 day.
Rule 3: Why not?
Snowbasin has a plethora of hiking trails perfect for the whole family. Whether it is the family loop near the base, Maples Trail from the lower parking lot or an epic all day hike on the Needles Trail from the base, you will be rewarded with lush greenery and sparkling peaks.
Over the holiday weekend we took the family up with a modest hiking goal: Take the Needles Gondola up and hike up the cirque to overlook Ogden and the Great Salt Lake. Then head back for lunch at the lodge.
After riding up the gondola, we started up the Cirque Practice Loop trail. There was still some snow for the kids and the pups to frolic in. A well defined trail branches off from the Cirque Loop and heads up some steeper switchbacks to the ridge. Indian Paint Brush and Bluebells nodded their blooms to the beat of the wind. The view was glorious.
It was so perfect in fact, no one was ready to be done once we accomplished our original goal. Why not follow the single track trail north and summit a few of the minor peaks? So we did, following cairns and then heading straight up the ridge to the top.
But of course the day was going so well, the kids were hiking strong and Mount Ogden was just over from us, its rocky summit beaconing. We had plenty of water, plenty of snacks, and everyone felt strong. So… why not?
We scrambled down to the “road” that comes up from the Porcupine Trail. The road and trail to the summit of Mount Ogden is not for the faint of heart. I’d suggest hikers are comfortable with loose rock, a steep incline, and scrambling hands-and-feet to the towers at the top. Everyone in the group did fantastic, kids included. Though I will admit I was a bit nervous with the kids at the summit. It is not a place to let them run free and explore as there are cliffs on the north side.
Peering over the ridge at the top of the cirque.
We headed back the way we came, dodging the previous summits and sticking to the trail all the way back to the Needles Lodge.
We missed lunch that day, our hike exceeded our original intentions. But as we descended on the gondola, we looked back up at Mount Ogden’s impressive summit. We could now say we’d been there. And while our stomachs protested our missing of lunch at the lodge, everyone was both refreshed and exhausted from a good day’s adventure.
Not one bit of the hike along the ridge-line was wasted energy. The flowers and views are truly glorious. And I left truly impressed with what my kids could accomplish.
This hike is fantastic for families and visitors, showcasing the best parts of the Wasatch Range and offering birds-eye views of the valleys on either sides. You can turn and head back at any point. But at-least set your goal on the ridge above the cirque. You will not regret it.
- Mileage to top of Cirque: .7 miles
- Total RT Mileage: 4.6 miles
- Total Moving Time: 2h 20 minutes