By Brody Bovero
One of the secrets about Antelope Island that only the locals know is that winter arrives late and it leaves early due to its lower elevation. While trails in the Wasatch Mountains and foothills are covered with two, three, or six feet of snow, many of the trails out on the island are still clear for a nice day hike. In early December, I was fortunate enough to tag along with my son, Miles, and his compadres from local Boy Scout Troop 882 (pronounced eight-eight deuce), on a day hike up to Frary Peak.
At an elevation of 6,569 ft above sea level, Frary Peak doesn’t catch the imagination of mountain climber types, but as the highest point on Antelope Island, it furnishes first-class views of the Wasatch Front and the Great Salt Lake.
The entire hike takes about 4 to 5 hours and has an elevation gain of 2,050 over 3.5 miles. According to the Antelope Island State Park trail map, the trail is 6.4 miles round trip. As peak-hiking goes, Frary Peak is one of the easiest in the Salt Lake area. Like many areas of the island, the best time to go is in the fall or early spring. Due to lack of shade, the trail can be a scorcher in the summer unless you attempt it early in the morning or late in the evening.
A trail map is available at the entrance gate of the state park. The hike starts at the Frary Peak Trailhead, which is located on the east side of the Island. At first, the trail climbs at a rather steep angle but there are several sections along the way that level off before the escalation continues. Our scouts easily handled the climb, although it might prove a little difficult for young children. Miles and his friends were soon on their way into the backcountry of the island, talking, kicking rocks, and taking pictures with their phones.
The trail takes several twists and turns which constantly gives new and interesting views of the island and the lake. In due time we made it to the top where we could look out upon both sides of the island. Our scouts were surprised to find an old mailbox that had been placed on the peak where past hikers have left messages and little odd trinkets for future hikers to enjoy. We stopped for a snack and took some time reading through the journal entries and checking out a Rubik’s Cube that someone had placed in the mailbox.
On a clear day, you can see mountain peaks from Juab County all the way up into Box Elder County from Frary Peak. On this day, however, there was fog and inversion down below. We climbed up above the inversion and into the warm, beautiful December sunshine. The views from above almost gave us a sense of floating on an island in the sky as the other mountain peaks jutted up above the inversion and into the blue sky.
The quietness of the island’s backcountry is also impressive. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle along the Wasatch Front, our little group was immersed in the quietness of nature. The breeze running along the grass. The wind flowing through the wings of a black bird that was gliding along the cliffs below, and the sounds of our shoes climbing over rocks.
If you are like me and you get cabin fever around this time of winter, just remember early spring is around the corner. This can be an excellent time to get out, stretch your legs, and enjoy some sunshine. For most of us in Syracuse, we can easily look across the lake to see the conditions on the island. If the snow is mostly gone, then it’s time for a day hike.
To Get There: Frary Peak Trailhead on the east side of the island
The hike: 4-5 hours, 6.4 miles round trip, elevation gain is 2,050
Peak fun: A mailbox at the mountaintop contains messages and fun trinkets