Wasatch Crest: Guardsman Pass to Lake Desolation

Brighton and Solitude

Park City and Deer Valley

Salt Lake City

Epic ridge run along the backbone of Utah.

Trail Running Difficult

Distance
17 km
Ascent
618 m
Descent
618 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
2.9 km
High Point
3 km
Gradient
10˚
Wasatch Crest: Guardsman Pass to Lake Desolation Map

At the top of Park City Resort is the crest of the Wasatch Range, and one trail traces its backbone above all the ski slopes. From the Wasatch Crest Trail, you’ll gaze over mountains on all sides as you run at nearly 10,000 feet elevation–across rocky ridgelines, through flower-filled meadows, and above sparkling alpine lakes. The trail traces the ridgeline, sometimes in shade of trees but usually in wide-open space. It is a combination of jeep road and singletrack, alternates between smooth and rocky, and undulates with the mountain peaks, giving an exciting variety and breathtaking views the whole way.

Description

There are ways to connect with Wasatch Crest from the resorts or from trails on the other side of the range, but the easiest access is at Guardsman Pass because you can drive there from Park City and get on the Wasatch Crest right away. The pass is also a popular overlook and trailhead for casual hikes, however, so you may find the parking lot full. If that’s the case, drive a bit farther and start at the Wasatch Crest Connector instead. You’ll skip the crowds without missing much of the trail.

Once on the crest, you’ll rise and fall with the terrain overlooking Park City Resort’s upper bowls, and enjoy views of Utah’s highest peaks on the horizons. If you go the full distance of the route mapped here, you’ll finish on the flank of Peak Ninety-Nine 90, which is part of Canyons Resort. On the “backside” of this peak is Lake Desolation, a pristine pool in a sparsely wooded alpine bowl. A side trail drops down to the lake, in case you need to cool off or filter water. When you’re ready, turn around and experience the whole ridgeline in the other direction.

The Wasatch Crest Trail does not end at Lake Desolation but continues a few more miles northward, so you can extend the run if you wish. There’s also the option to stage a car at Lower Big Water Trailhead on Mill Creek Canyon Road, to make a one-way shuttle run. Also, don’t forget about options for making a loop with trails in Park City or Canyons Resort. The extensive network makes many routes possible, but the highlight of any of them is the airy, eye-popping traverse of the Wasatch Crest.

Sources: https://www.stayparkcity.com/blog/top-park-city-hikes/ https://utah.com/mountain-biking/wasatch-crest

Difficulty

Difficult

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Best time to visit

May, June, July, August, September, October

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area