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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.