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Distance: 6 miles, out and back
Time: 5 – 8 hours
Ages in our group: late 20’s
Mount Olympus Trail takes you to the peak of Mount Olympus, in the Wasatch Range. With a trailhead easily accessible from Salt Lake City, this is a great day hike for a weekend or after work excursion. It’s a busy, dog-friendly trail but do take the “difficult” rating seriously.
The first time I hiked Mount Olympus Trail, it totally kicked my butt. I finished it but with a lot of aches and pains and huffing and puffing along the way. Mount Olympus Trail is nearly relentless elevation gain on a rugged, rocky trail. Going up is an unending cardio and calves workout. Going down demands good footing and is hard on the knees. Hikers earn their views on Mount Olympus.
The trail starts just north of the Old Mill Golf Course, on Wasatch Blvd East. There is plenty of parking on the nearby street. Warm up your muscles before starting because the trail starts out with a series of steep, wooden stairs that get your thighs burning and your heart racing.
After the stairs, you get a little bit of a break to catch your breath. There is still a lot of elevation gain but it is a little more gradual. For most of this next part, the trail hangs on the cliff and gives you an incredible view of the expanse of the valley.
After about a mile-and-a-half the trail crosses a bubbling stream created from snowmelt. This is a great spot to stop and refresh because after this starts the hardest part of the trail.
The elevation gain increases and the trail becomes rockier. For the next mile you are walking uphill, over rocks and around rocks. This is a lot of elevation gain in a very short period of time. It’s tough and not for the faint of heart. The picture below is only mild elevation gain compared to what the trail gets to.
The reviews online and on apps almost always mention something about “the saddle.” At the top of this seemingly never-ending series of rocks, you will finally come to the saddle. It will be very obvious because the terrain will even out, the view will open up, and you will be able to rest and take in glorious mountain peaks all around.
There is the option to end the hike here. A lot of people rest here and then begin the descent. You got in a workout, got in some views, and get to start down feeling accomplished AND refreshed.
If you want to keep going, get ready to scramble. The trail is basically unmarked but you can kind of follow where others have gong before you. And if it’s a busy day, just follow everyone up. This photo shows approximately – not super accurately – where the scramble route is. The view is from the saddle.
This is the first hike that Kenon and I ever did that it took us just as long to go down as it did to go up. Usually hiking down goes so much faster because you are not fighting elevation. This hike is so rocky and uneven that it forces a slower, more careful pace. Keep that in mind when you are estimating how long the hike will take you.
Mount Olympus often has snow and ice at the top from October-May. Kenon has completed this trail in February with a good pair of YakTrax micro-spikes. In the spring, the snow melt causes muddy, slippery conditions. Check the AllTrails reviews for current conditions.