Mount Olympus - North Face Trail

Neffs Canyon
Olympus Cove
Wasatch Mountains
Salt Lake City, Utah

The North Face Trail is a classic route to the North Peak of Mount Olympus. Offering incredible views, outstanding geological features, and invigorating forest air. All this and it's only minutes away from the city. Yet, very few people have even heard of it. It's been secreted away to only a select few who have ventured into this rugged area.

New landowners and encroaching developments have choked off the original trailhead. Guidebooks seldom mention this route, but it is a classic hike, with views that challenge the Olympus South Peak route and in many cases, rivals them.

The trail is very steep in places, but isn't dangerous, and doesn't require rockclimbing, if you follow the correct route. The route is steep, yet easy to follow once you get off of the Neffs North's Fork and get on the North Face Route.

Neffs Canyon's North Route hasn't been maintained and is getting overgrown. If you can, bring something to chop or cut branches that are growing over the trail and pushing people off-route. This will protect the rest of the forest.

It would be good to see a troop of scouts going up this route with some shovels and branch cutters, this trail deserves a little makeover.


There are two ways to get to Neffs Canyon

1) Go east on 3800 s. from Wasatch Blvd. Take a right at the 4-way stop just before you get to Millcreek Canyon. Follow that road southeast, the streets are Parkview > Park Terrace > White Way.

2) Turn east at Oakview Dr. at 4275 s on Wasatch Blvd. Follow this road east until you get to Parkview, turn left, the turn right at Park Terrace, then right again at White Way.

From the trailhead at Neffs Canyon
, follow the trail east for about a mile, until you get to the stream crossing (which is dry most of the year), there are a few large boulders on the trail here. Turn left (south) over the stream. Follow this trail as it meanders through the forest, it's easy to get lost in this section, as the trees have grown over the trail, but it's always easy to find the trail again.

After about a half mile or so after the junction with the North Face Trail, the trail forks right in front of a huge slab. Take the right fork, it climbs along a steep edge for a minute before it drops down into the stream, which is dry for most of the year. Follow this boulder laden stream up until it opens up into a boulder talus. From the boulder talus, turn right and follow the rock-slab walls up the chute to the west.

At the top of the chute, you will reach the Apollo Couloir which opens up with views of the northern Salt Lake Valley. This is a good place to take a break and take in the views before continuing on the very steep final chute.

Before continuing up, you'll want to drop down in elevation so that you can bypass walking across a precarious slab traverse. Now you'll just want to find a route up the last chute which is the steepest part of the trail. At the top of this chute, at the saddle, the views will explode to the south. From here you can walk west up to a little sub-peak.

The views from this little peak make the trip worth it, but it gets better if you hike up the ridge to the east (Called the West Ridge). You'll have to downclimb somewhere and walk along the groove below. At the top of this saddle you have the choice to climb up the North sub-peak to the north (left), which should give some incredible views, or you can go south up to the highest peak on the Northern Massif, Olympus North Summit.

Be sure to print the MAP.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Red-tailed Hawk that was swooping around the trailhead.

From the North's Fork Trail at the junction to the North Face Trail,
looking up toward the North Face Trail which loomed in the clouds

Nearing the bend up to the North Face Trail

Looking northeast toward Neffs Knob

Looking east as we pass the first walls on our left.
This is just after the trail fork to North's Fork.

Fallen maple leaves signal the end of another season.

Near the boulder talus below the Great Chimney.
Follow this west to the right of the rocks slabs pictured above.

Kamps Ridge.
That cube of rock has been waiting to come crashing down for a long time.

Looking north down toward Neffs Canyon,
at some limestone hoodoos found to the north of Neffs Trail to Neffs Meadow.

Continuing up the trail to the west.

Interesting fungus growing the stems. Do you know what this is?

More walls along the trail.

Colorful rocks were everywhere along the trail.

Looking north toward Grandeur Peak, Mount Olympus' northern neighbor.

Looking northeast over the top of Neffs Ridge toward Church Fork Peak.

Looking south up the Great Chimney

A telephoto of the top of the Great Chimney

Looking northeast down The North Face Trail
toward Neffs Knob, Neffs Ridge and Grandeur Peak.

Looking east as we pass The Great Chimney.

Perkins Peak at the top of Emigration Ridge

Change is coming.

From near the middle of the North Face of Mount Olympus
looking north over the Wasatch neighbor peaks.

Remember this for the way back, there are 3 routes here.
You want to take the high one in the middle to follow the same trail back.
The highest one to the right, doesn't go anywhere.
Follow the route that goes through that snow patch in the middle right,
with the slab next to it.
I would also assume that these trails would have to converge later down,
but dont' bet your life on it.

As soon as you reach the top of this chute, the views will open up to the north,
from there, descend down to your right around the wall.
Once around the wall, you will be looking up the last chute to your left.

The walls start to grow taller and taller all around.

Looking north toward downtown Salt Lake City.
The 2-15 East Beltroute is visible in the foreground.

A view of Neffs Canyon parking lot.
There's a rectangular track that goes around the little meadow.

Some cobblestone sediment, from an ancient river,
precariously tilted above 45 degrees.

Interesting rock formations found under the balanced cobblestone slab.

Looking northeast toward Mount Aire.

A sketchy-looking traverse that we could have avoided
if we would have downclimbed earlier.
From below here, is the trail to the two other routes up the north face.
The Apollo Couloir is down below as well.

Going up the last chute, looking down the North Face Trail.
Neffs Ridge is in the background, as is Grandeur Peak.
The bright triangular point in the middle is the point you go around to the right,
if you are coming from the neighborhood at the top of Olympus Cover,
or if you are coming from the ridge that starts by the Neffs Parking Lot.

Looking north over Olympus Cove toward the Northern Wasatch.
Grandeur Peak, Emigration Ridge, The Foothills, Grandview Peak...

From just past the West Ridge Saddle, looking south.
An incredible view of Mount Olympus' Southern Summit
and the massive quartzite flank of Geurt's Ridge at the top of Tolcat Canyon.

A closer view of the highest point on Mount Olympus.
Twin Peaks sits in the background.

An even closer view of Mount Olympus showing the deep fractures on the fin-like wall.

Looking over the Thinking Giant* towards Twin Peaks.
Sunrise Peak is visible to the left and Storm Mountain is visible below and to the right.

Looking east up the North Peak. The five peaks are visible.
The northernmost peak is distorted because of perspective.
The second peak to the right is the highest of the Northern subpeaks.

The tallest point on the Northern Massif (Highest point on the left)
with the 3 sub peaks to the right.

Twin Peaks with Sunrise Peak to the left.
The head of the Thinking Giant* in the foreground.

Lone Peak with Bells Cleaver to the left, and Bells Canyon below.

Thunder Mountain, North and South Peaks.

The Pfeifferhorn frothing in the clouds.

Looking west down Tolcat Canyon.
If you were to follow this canyon down,
you'd meet up with the classic south peak trail at the stream crossing.
You'd then end up at the trailhead by Pete's Rock on Wasatch Blvd.
A better route would be to stay on this ridge,
and then decend after the Tocat stream crossing.

No more light today.
The sun sets behind the Oquirrh Mountains.

Time to go.
Farmington Peak, with Deseret Peak in the background on the left.


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