FATMAP by Strava
Mount Timpanogos on a Clear Day

5 of the Toughest Trail Runs in Salt Lake City

A sampler platter of the trail running challenges found in the mountains above Salt Lake City.

Trail Running Difficult, Severe, Extreme

Mount Timpanogos on a Clear Day
Mount Timpanogos on a Clear Day Photo: Don LaVange


Salt Lake City, Utah, boasts the best mountain access of any major city in the United States.

There, I said it.

That's a bold statement, but the facts back it up. While other so-called "mountain cities," such as Denver, are situated a long way from true mountains, the Wasatch Range rises straight from the outskirts of Salt Lake City, climbing from 4,300 feet above sea level to a sky-scraping 11,752 feet at the top of Mount Timpanogos. (Mount Nebo is the highest peak in the range at 11,928 feet, but it's located many miles to the south of Salt Lake.)

In the summertime, groves of whispering aspen trees cover the mountain slopes, rocky peaks soar above treeline, and meadows filled with wildflowers abound. Winding up the gorgeous mountain valleys and traversing the high ridges, you'll find countless miles of picture-perfect singletrack trails. The beauty of the mountains calls to adventurers of all stripes, and most especially trail runners.

In this guidebook, you’ll find five of the toughest trail runs near Salt Lake City. While sure, you could, of course, build longer runs than these. But these tough routes provide a sampler of what challenges the mountains near Salt Lake City offer, allowing you to build even bigger routes on top of these basic building blocks.

For a classic race route, check out the Wahsatch Steeplechase, “a difficult trail race held in Salt Lake City every year in June,” according to Joey Wilson.

Three of the other routes in the guidebook are essentially peak climbs that serve as challenging trail runs for the intrepid athlete. Mount Timpanogos (mentioned above), Mount Ogden, and Pfeifferhorn Peak are all frequented by trail runners.

Finally, if you don’t want to summit a peak but do want to cover some long-distance miles on trail, consider running a section of the long-distance Bonneville Shoreline Trail. This segment is one of the most popular stretches of the 100 miles of the trail that have been completed thus far.

Routes included

Related guidebooks