Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Things To Do In Utah: Summiting Antelope Island

An old friend flew into town and we decided we would catch up while hiking to the top of Antelope Island.  For those of you unfamiliar with Antelope Island, it is highly visible from along the Wasatch Front and is situated several miles out in the Great Salt Lake.

To get there, take the Antelope Drive exit in Layton and head west as far as you can go.  Plan on bringing $9 per car load of people to gain access.  Gates to the park close at dusk (which by the way totally ruined my proposal plans to my wife some 11+ years ago).  Today the gate at the toll booth had a sign reading "Beware of Biting Gnats".  Fortunately, the 45F temps and breezy conditions keep that problem at bay.  It is best to make this hike in cooler weather.  The brine flies and lake stink make summer hiking rather obnoxious.  There is a reason "lake front" property on the Salt Lake is not a big seller.

The island is also knows for its bison population which roam freely.

Our hike began at the Frary Peak Trail Head.  Just follow the signs to get there. Beware of the painfully slow 30 mile per hour speed limits on the island.

The topography, vegatation, and animal life were very interesting.  The trail starts of moderately and then levels out at parts for a breather.

These two antelope were not very afraid of our presence.

We had great view of the "beach" on the west side of the island.  This above shot contains some interesting lava rock formations.

There were many wildflowers along the trail.

As we reached the top the presence of burned out trees marked the landscape.  These are the remains of a very old fire.

Here I am just before we reached the summit.  Unfortunately, the trail dips down quite a bit into a bowl before an insane stairstep climb to the top.

The elevation gain from base to peak is about 2,000 vertical feet over 3.08 miles.  Not a bad conditioning hike.

Here is the view to the south from the summit.  The Ochre Mountains are on the other side of the lake.

On the way down we discovered some amazing lichen formations on the rocks.  These phosphorescent green growths were very interesting.

There were also very few trees on the island except for some junipers at the top.  The exception being these clusters of trees which tended to grow sparsely in select gullies. 

My good friend is a university professor and herpetologist (snake scientist) and so we had a moment of excitement when we stumbled on and caught a baby gopher snake.  We took this photo and quickly released it.   

I took this final photo of Mt. Ogden as we headed home for dinner.  The hike was quite enjoyable and I recommend it as a great beginner hike.

No comments: