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Southern Skyline Trail  (Lewis Peak)

The Southern Skyline Trail is a rewarding but long hill climb. It starts at Pineview Reservoir in Ogden Canyon and climbs over 3100 feet  to the ridgeline looking west over Ogden. The trail -- if you include the spur to Lewis Peak -- can be ridden as an out-and-back to Lewis Peak (18.6 miles), as a 14-mile point-to-point leaving a shuttle at the North Ogden Pass trailhead, or as a 24-mile loop following paved roads 10 miles downhill to the Pineview Trailhead.

Looking south from the ridge during the final climb to Lewis Peak, the clouds are lowering onto Mount Ogden. Photos September 7, 2001 by Bruce Argyle.

The trail is mostly smooth hardpack dirt, but there are a few rocky sections where climbing gets a bit bumpy. Because of occasional rough sections, and the substantial altitude gain, this trail is rated advanced-intermediate technical and strenuous aerobic.

Most of the climbing is on exposed southern slope with short oak brush and little shade. If you're riding in mid-summer, I suggest an early-morning start, or the 3100-vertical climb will get mighty toasty.

At the 2nd switchback turn (to the left, at 1.8 miles), the trail seems to fork. The "straight ahead" option goes 0.1 mile to a viewpoint looking over Pineview. This is a good "we made it, turn-around" spot for beginners. If you're heading uphill, there are better views from the ridgeline above.

On a typical trail segment, narrow singletrack passes through scratchy low oak scrub, with maples offering occasional shade in the hollows.

The first 3 miles is steady climbing, at a grade of about 600 feet per mile (12%). The next 1.5 miles is up-and-down, but with some roots, rocks, and loose stuff to contend with. At 4.5 miles, you start a steady stiff climb up to the ridgeline. On the ridgeline at mile 7, you'll keep left at two trail intersections, rolling up and down for 2 miles to reach Lewis Peak at mile 9.4.

Looking east over Pineview Reservoir. On this day, temperatures dropped into the 40s, with blowing snow on the ridgeline. Great! The cold lets you push to your maximum climbing capacity without overheating!

Your destination is Lewis Peak, altitude 8100 feet. From here, you can look over the northern Wasatch Front and Great Salt Lake.

From Lewis Peak, you can head back to the trailhead at Pineview, or you can head to North Ogden Pass for a loop or point-to-point. Turn left at the trail intersection.

Maple leaves begin to turn crimson in anticipation of the fall chill.

On the ridgeline, you'll pass through large (by Utah standards) maples and fir, but most of the ride is in gambel oak. In early summer, you'll enjoy blossoms of mountain bluebell, Wasatch penstemmon, and mules ear.

Trailside rocks are metamorphic shist, gneiss, and quartzite from the Precambrian Period - around a billion years ago.

North of the peak on the downslope towards North Ogden Pass, the trees are bigger, and the air a bit cooler.

If you descend to the North Ogden Divide, you'll arrive at the road about 1000 vertical feet above the Pineview trailhead. This is a fairly steep and (occasionally) technical descent, but loads of fun.

Bruce drops over a root on the way down to the Divide. (Digitized from video shot by Brian H., October 11, 2001.)

Getting there: From I-15, take exit 347, Ogden 12th South. Head east towards the mountains, and the street will enter Ogden Canyon. Drive about 5 miles up the canyon. At Pineview Reservoir, turn left across the dam. About 1/2 mile later, there's a "Pineview Trailhead" parking area on your right. The trail starts on the southern end of the parking area, crosses the highway, then about 100 feet later, jogs slightly downhill as it crosses a paved private road. (The trail at the north end of the parking is the Pineview Trail, which goes 3.2 miles north to a second trailhead on the highway. It's a nice alternative return route if you're doing the loop ride.)

Riding Resources for Southern Skyline:
  Single-page riding guide
  Topo maps for printing:
      Lewis Peak   Loop Hres   Loop Lres
  Lodging, camping, shops:     Links to Ogden area resources
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
      GPX Lewis Peak only
      Southern Skyline Loop
      Skyline Epic (Pineview to Ben Lomond Loop)

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