Bountiful Indeed

Exploring the Wasatch Range above the Salt Lake Valley

January 2008 Feature John Summers Viewed 711 time(s)

As a snowmobiler driving south down Interstate 15 in Utah you can't help but gaze off to the east and think about the riding to be had in the Wasatch Mountains.

As you get closer to Salt Lake City the thoughts of riding are turned to concentrating on the road in front of you and the race-like atmosphere. The concentration of houses and businesses as you approach Salt Lake City almost erases the thought that riding even remotely close to I-15 was ever an option.

Perhaps, though, there are times we should just slow down, take in the surrounding area and realize that past the hurry of everyday life there great things to be had and they can be right out the back door of some people's back door-even in the big city.

So, 10 minutes off I-15 in Bountiful, a city immediately to the north of Salt Lake City, you head up the hill and through some quaint neighborhoods to a large trailhead that sits up the at about the height of the highest homes. From the trailhead a great view of the valley below can be seen.

As you leave the trailhead, which sits at the bottom of Skyline Drive, you are on a one-lane road traveling directly behind several houses. This is one of the few trails that we know of that leave straight from suburbia. The road itself is cut into the mountain side and wanders in a northerly direction through the scrub oak for several miles while you catch views of the valley below, courtesy of several switchbacks.

Hang A Right

At an unmarked place in the road you will take a hard right traveling up a steep hill to the top of the ridge. As a side note, the road continues on for a ways and makes for a nice trail ride.

Once on the ridge you ride the ridge line to the south riding with the Wasatch Front on one side and the Morgan and Ogden canyons on the other side (east). One thing that will really catch your eye is the Great Salt Lake off to the west-especially when the sun hits it just right and it seems to glitter in every direction.

While on the ridge line caution needs to be exercised so that you stay on the ridge top and not venture too far off the ridge one way or the other. A lot of the canyons that go to the east and west cannot be followed out and cannot be climbed out of, which means stay on the main ridge while traveling to the south.

The day we rode the ridgeline above Bountiful the snow got deeper and deeper the farther south we went. When we got onto the ridge top there was about six inches of new snow but by the time we got back there a ways we were into four feet of new snow.

The ridge itself starts out pretty bare with the exception of a few patches of quakies to ride through. Riding deeper into the area you start to get into a thicker stands of trees consisting of pines and quakies. The terrain starts to vary a little and you start to lose the defined ridge line. The area turns hilly with technical tight climbs, open bowls to play in and tight trees to boondock through.

The Next Great Spot

This area is not as big as some other areas you might be used to so riding here usually consists of playing in an area for a little while and then moving on, working your way farther south each time.

While traveling from one area to the next there is a lot of sidehilling that you have to negotiate, along with areas where you have to travel along ridge lines that must be followed because there isn't any option of leaving the ridge on one side or the other. A lot of the ridges flow into canyon bottoms which can make for dangerous terrain traps if you were to get stuck in the bottom. Just take a look at a topo map of the Wasatch Mountains above Bountiful and Salt Lake City and you'll see dozens and dozens of canyons.

One of the riders in our group, Mike from Tri-City Performance in Centerville, UT, told us that although there has never been a fatality in this area due to avalanches, it is an area that is very prone to them and the terrain can lead to bad situations. The boys at Tri-City ought to know as this is their backyard and they ride here regularly.

The mountains and ridges above Bountiful and the Salt Lake Valley can be challenging and dropping into one of the many bowls means you are committed. This is an area where towing out is not an option and having your sled run in top condition is a must.

We were told by a rider that frequents the area that there is a community tool box just in case someone needs an extra tool.

Further back in this stretch of the Wasatch Mountains you will find every type of terrain and riding condition. You will find open bowls without a tree on it, open meadows and trees to boondock in. The only type of riding you won't find is a groomed trail. That's fine by us, especially when the snow conditions are like what we experienced in the Wasatch Mountains.

The thing that we think makes this area so interesting is the fact that the area is so close to the hustle and bustle of a major city yet it seems unreal that you are even where you are.

Riding here allows you to get above it all.



Elevation 5,200 to 8,600 feet

Snowfall 95-350 inches

Miles of Groomed Trails None

Full-Service Town Bountiful (pop. 41,161)

Nearest Airport Salt Lake City (14 miles)

Getting Started Davis Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (888) 777-9771

Getting There Off Interstate 15, take the Bountiful 400 North exit. Head east to 1300 East then on to 600 North (continues east) to Skyline Drive and continue on to Eagle Ridge Drive (1500 East) then south for 1/4 mile to the large trailhead parking area.

Getting Around BYOS-bring your own snowmobile. There are snowmobile dealerships in Centerville and Woods Cross.

Bedding Down There is a variety of lodging options all over the valley. Contact the Davis Area CVB at the number listed above.    

Eating Out Just as with lodging, there are numerous eating establishments scattered across the valley. Contact the Davis Area CVB.

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