Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Goat Whiskers Trail, Catalina

Goat Whiskers Trail begins about 2 miles west of Two Harbors, on the west side of Cherry Valley, above Lions Head. I've read elsewhere that it's at mile 3.8 on the West End Road, but I don't know. I do know that you can't miss the trailhead from the road. It is marked, and there is a large parking area across from it.

Goat Whiskers is an actual hiking trail, not a road. That is refreshing for the island. The trail is uphill the entire way. The last half is steeper than the first half. However, it's not too bad for a Catalina trail, and the views are great. 
Looking down the trail

Two Harbors is decidedly brown during the summer. Goat Whiskers Trail offers some refreshing greenery.
That's green for summertime :)

Looking down the trail towards the Channel

At 1.2 miles, there is an obvious, well-signed junction with Water Tank Road.
Where Goat Whiskers meets Water Tank

Looking down Water Tank Road

We continued up (left).
Looking up Water Tank Road

Water Tank Road is wide and relatively smooth, being a road and all. The views down towards the channel are great.
Looking down towards Howland's Landing and the channel

We thought we'd be able to see the open ocean at the top of the road. Looking straight ahead, however, there were just more mountains. Off to the left side we could see Cat Harbor.

Cat Harbor, from Water Tank Road summit

We stopped at the high point of Water Tank Road. I think that is also the junction with the Trans-Catalina Trail. Getting dropped off at Goat Whiskers trailhead, going up Water Tank Road, and taking the TCT back down into Two Harbors would be a great hike.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Slide Canyon to Slate Canyon hike

In almost every review that I read for this hike, hikers started at Slate Canyon. I recommend starting at the Y Trailhead. The trail up Slate Canyon is covered in loose, slippery rock. It also appeared to be a longer, more consistent climb. I'd rather get that part over with! So, we started from the Y Trailhead, off Terrace Drive in Provo.

The Y Trail is steep, hot, and generally unpleasant. We started hiking around 5:40pm and it was about 95*, ugh. :) However, the view from the Y was particularly nice with the summer greenery.

Part of the Y
The trail into Slide Canyon continues from the top of the Y. The trail at this point is more narrow and natural looking than the Y Trail. It continues a short distance along the face of the mountain, between 6' tall bushes, and to a very cool rock outcropping before turning left into Slide Canyon.

Looking into Slide Canyon
Slide Canyon is much more beautiful than the face of Y Mountain. It is filled with various types of trees and offers several great views down into Provo. The trail continues to be steep through here, but the surroundings are prettier than on the Y Trail. We often heard bird calls and dozens of small lizards ran across the trail. This trail is not heavily used; after leaving the Y Trail, we saw only 1 other hiker. Accordingly, the further we hiked, the more overgrown the trail became.

Probably the worst section of the overgrown trail
This is a beautiful trail. It passes through forested areas and open meadows. I kept wondering why the front of this mountain range is not as pretty as the back.

After a continual ascent, the trail begins to drop. I assumed there would be some mixed up and down sections, but I was wrong. Basically this trail is consistently up, then consistently down. Also, there were several junctions--we always stayed right. The Slate Canyon Trail appears to be an old jeep road. It was quite wide.

Coming into Slate Canyon
Slate Canyon also offered beautiful scenery, including some interesting rock formations. We got into Slate Canyon around dusk, so I was unable to get many pictures of that area. However, due to the late hour we got to hear an owl and see a bat and a rattlesnake. It was a decent trade-off. :)

After coming out of Slate Canyon, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail is clearly marked with white trail markers. From there, it is an easy couple miles back to the Y Trailhead parking lot.

This trip is about 8.5 miles; it took us about 4.5 hours to hike, including rest breaks.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Buffalo Peak Hike

Buffalo Peak is an easy, 1-mile roundtrip hike. Like most hikes in this area, it offers a sweeping view of Utah Valley. However, this is is probably the easiest hike to obtain that view. Access: Turn onto Squaw Peak Road in Provo Canyon. Turn left when the road forks. After the pavement ends, continue 2.9 miles to the trailhead. The trailhead is not marked, but there is a small shoulder for parking on the right side of the road. Also on the right is a log fence; on the left is a sign about fire.

The trail is easy and pretty. At the beginning of August, there were still a few types of wildflowers evident.

Easy ascent through aspens
 The majority of the trail is gently sloped or level.

More like a walk than a hike

Towards the beginning of the trail there were many deadplants.
Living wildflowers were more common further on.

Utah Lake comes into view. Buffalo Peak is on the right.
The final ascent is more steep, but still pretty easy. I met a couple with two toddlers coming down, and they hadn't had any problems.

Looking west from the peak
 On the peak there are a few short, unmaintained spur trails for better views of the valley.

Looking southwest from the peak

Heading back down the trail
This hike took me about 45 minutes, but that included multiple stops for pictures, time at the summit, and a leisurely pace. I highly recommend this hike--it's easy and beautiful.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Petting Zoo at the Flying J in Scipio, UT

This week I had reason to travel a few hundred miles on I-15 with several small children in tow. We looked for ways to break up the trip; this one was quite unique. At the Flying J in Scipio there is a small (free) petting zoo.
Heading for the petting zoo
Unfortunately, it was closed when we visited. We were still able to see most of the animals; we just couldn't get within petting distance. However, the kids still loved this stop

We were able to reach through the fence to pet these guys.

Darling lambs, an emu?, and a goat
In addition to sheep, goats, ponies, and bunnies, this petting zoo has some more exotic animals: turkeys, emus (?), a zebra, and a deer. If you are driving through Scipio and like animals at all, I'd say this place is worth a stop!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Exploring Ophir, Utah

While out on a day trip/drive, we stumbled across Ophir while exploring Highway 73.
Ophir is a former mining town. It appeared to be a semi-ghost town, with some abandoned structures, but its tiny main street also sports new-looking, clearly-inhabited houses. I also got the feeling that someone is trying to make Ophir a tourist destination. An outdoor pavilion has nice, new wooden picnic table with wagon wheels on each end. Old miners' cabins are being renovated. And I saw one sign that said tours are available on Saturdays. I would love to go back on a weekend to check that out.
Overall, I was very impressed with Ophir. It has lots of great little features just waiting to be discovered.
Mining remains along the road into town
There are many places to see mining remains in Utah, but I have never seen such complete, easily accessed remains.
Just before the Welcome sign
 And instead of leaving all the remains scattered about, the good people of Ophir have put together small scenes like the above. Very fun!

This is right off the side of the road. We had a great time climbing on and around these mine cars.
 In addition to mining remains, there are other fun, quirky things about Ophir. I don't want to give everything away, but a few examples follow:
Random exterior shelves featuring carved animals...and a haunted mine??
Numbers in a strange order and tools for hands. Delightfully quirky :)

This felt like the set of a Western.

I especially like the boots. :)
If you're looking to discover some of hidden Utah, Ophir is a great place to start. The town has a delightful personality with lots of great little quirks. Definitely a good place to go spend a couple hours.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Y Trail/Slide Canyon Trail to the mouth of Slide Canyon (Provo, Utah)

Rocky outcropping near the mouth of Slide Canyon
 Last week, in search of a way to enjoy the gorgeous weather, we decided to hike the Y and watch the sunset. The Y Trail was, as always, somewhat busy and rather boring. It’s less a hiking trail and more a wide, steep path lacking scenery. However, when we got to the top of the Y we sat and watched the sunset—that was worthwhile. We also enjoyed spotting Venus and Jupiter shining above the city. From the top of the Y, we continued a short ways up the Slide Canyon Trail. The difference between the 2 is incredible. Within 20 feet of the Y, the trail narrows and becomes rocky. Within a couple hundred yards the trail is flanked by tall bushes. They are dead this time of year, but still something new to look at. The trail rises to a rocky outcropping at the mouth of Slide Canyon .

East Bay, Utah Lake
 The night was cloudy, but Slide Canyon , affected by light pollution, could have been lit by a full moon. We stopped there—we’ll continue up the canyon later this year when there is greenery and wildflowers. We took a short spur trail south and around the rocks, and met with an incredible view of Utah Valley . Normally I complain about hiking the Wasatch Front because all the western views are the same—oh look, another cityscape, yay—but something about this view worked for me. It could be that I was perched on the ledge of a boulder, huddled against a slight breeze and watching the colors fade from the sky. There was something magical about that. Whatever the cause, from that point at that time, the view was worth seeing. We sat for at least 20 minutes enjoying the night: the final bird calls of the day, the sudden approach of a bat, and the ever increasing number of lights on in the city.

City lights, Provo, Utah
 If you’re hiking the Y, I highly recommend going at least to the rocks above the Y. Prettier trail, better views, fewer people.