“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more.”
Not far from Grantsville and up Davenport Canyon, there is a simple little trail that allows a person to briefly escape into the natural world.
This trail is a small segment of a much larger trail system known as the “Stansbury Front Trail,” which is 24-miles long from the trailhead at West Canyon in the north, to the trailhead in Big Hollow to the south. The Tooele County Trails website describes it as the “Queen of Trails” in the county.
Hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and motorcycles are all welcome on the front trail, and each activity provides the outdoor enthusiast with a different experience as it climbs over several forested ridges, some over 8,000 feet high, on the edge of the Deseret Peak Wilderness Area.
There are several access points to the trail in many of the canyons on the east side of the Stansbury Mountain range. From these various starting points, many shorter and interesting little hikes can be taken. Davenport Hill is one such destination.
To get there, follow West Street south out of Grantsville approximately four miles to the North Willow/Davenport Canyon Road, turn right and head west. Continue west on the road toward the mountains and follow the road up Davenport Canyon about a mile to the Stansbury Front Trailhead.
After parking at the trailhead, head south across the draw on a good trail. This trail passes through sagebrush and other typical Great Basin mountain scrub. You will likely encounter mule deer and rabbits along this short trail.
Continue south up a gentle grade to the pass that divides Davenport Canyon and North Willow Canyon. At the pass, follow a faint old two track east and up through the woods where it will emerge in short order onto a bald, grassy and rocky ridge where you will have sweeping views of Davenport Canyon below.
Follow this two track east over a few minor hummocks until it disappears and head for the high point to the east. This is 7,001-foot-high Davenport Hill. Care must be taken to avoid the numerous patches of prickly pear that are scattered about in the mountain grass and orange lichen-covered rocks. There are also some good-sized and interesting rock formations on the ridge to the south that overlooks North Willow Canyon.
Once the road fades, just follow your nose to the peak. When my daughter and I climbed it the other day, we stayed on the south side of the ridge crest and attained the summit relatively easily, avoiding the worst of the rocks.
This is important in the summer time, especially in the late afternoon. Rattlesnakes are common in this area and they prefer the sunny rocks on the southwest facing ridges. Stay away from the rock falls and boulder fields during this time of day or you may come face to face with one. When that rattle goes off, it is a startling and unpleasant experience that is best to avoid.
Davenport Hill is a lone, conical prominence that broods over the best camp spots along Davenport Creek. Its incredibly steep north face drops precipitously down to the creek from the summit. You don’t want to slip along the ridge here because you will tumble all the way down.
The views down into Davenport Canyon are splendid for the amount of effort you put into this short, easy hike. Easy is a relative thing, I suppose. It is certainly easy to the end of the two track on the bald ridge, but it gets a little difficult from that point. That being said, the one-way distance from the trailhead to the summit is only about 1.2 miles with more than 1,000 feet of elevation gain.
From the summit, your vehicle will look like a tiny speck at the trailhead. To the north you have amazing views of the White Rocks area where there are interesting rock formations that merit further exploration. Beyond that, Stansbury Island rises out of the Great Salt Lake like a great dreadnought on the horizon of an ancient sea.
My daughter and I sat on some rocks on the summit and ate our lunch while we gazed upon the snow-covered face and summits of the highest peaks in the Stansbury Range.
The simple descent back to our vehicle was enjoyable as the mixed fragrant smells of mountain, forest and desert filled the air, and the coolness of the evening crept into the canyon.
This is an awesome little side hike for kids because it is easy and short enough not to exhaust them but is also challenging enough to be interesting. When they reach the lone summit, they will have a sense of accomplishment from that perch.
The best times for this hike would be early morning or in the evening during the summertime. Season is from early summer through late fall. With snow shoes, you could easily attain this peak year-round. For more information on the Stansbury Front Trail and a printable map of the area, visit the Tooele County Trails website at the following link. http://www.tooelecountytrails.com/images/print%20pdfs/stansburyfronttrailprintablemap.pdf
Get out there, away from the city and into the mountains and forests. Recharge your batteries, and as a friend of mine often says — “Live the Day!”
Jessop grew up exploring the mountains and deserts of Utah. He has a bachelor’s degree in Geography from the University of Utah, and has traveled to all 50 states, U.S. Territories and a dozen foreign countries. He, his wife and daughter live in Stansbury Park. Follow him on FB (JD Jessop) for more hikes and travels.