The Ensign Peak trail is rich in expansive views and historical significance to the Salt Lake Valley and its early settlers. The well-maintained trail is just one mile round trip but can be a bit strenuous as it gains nearly 400 feet of elevation from the trailhead to the summit of Ensign Peak.
This trail is suitable for most healthy adults and children, but use caution on steep slopes and small ledges close to the summit.
The hike begins at the Ensign Peak Nature Park (40.791759,-111.88822) located on Ensign Vista Drive in Salt Lake City.
- From downtown Salt Lake, travel north on State Street until it ends at the State Capitol Building.
- Turn right at the ‘T’ and follow East Capitol Blvd for approximately 1.3 miles.
- Turn left onto Ensign Vista Drive.
- Continue approximately 0.3 miles to Ensign Peak Nature Park.
There is no formal parking area, but you may park along the street. This is a quiet residential neighborhood, so please be courteous to local residents.
Ensign Peak is quite possibly the most historically significant peak in the entire Wasatch Range. On July 26, 1847, just two days after Mormon pioneers first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, a group of men including Brigham Young climbed to the summit of the peak. They did a rough survey of the valley laying out general plans for a settlement. Wilford Woodruff, the first to ascend the peak, suggested it would be a fitting place to ‘set up an ensign,’ which is how the peak got its name. As you hike along the trail, be sure to stop and read the many interpretive signs to learn more about the rich history, geology, and plant life of the area.
The trail starts out in a small plaza with plaques and 9 stone stools symbolizing the 9 pioneers who first climbed the peak in 1847. This area is paved and accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. Behind the plaza, the trail continues, but not just for hikers heading to the summit; there is a short, paved trail to a lower viewpoint called Vista Mound. The view from this point is not quite as spectacular as from the peak, but for those unable to make the full hike, Vista Mound makes a great short walk.
To reach Ensign Peak, continue past the turnoff to Vista Mound. The trail quickly transitions to dirt and gravel and starts to climb quickly up the hillside. The trail features clear signs that you should follow closely.
After about a half mile, the trail approaches the 5,414-foot summit from the north side, following a narrow ridge for the last hundred yards. The summit is home to a small plaza and monument as well as a sign to help identify many of the landmarks that can be seen in the distance across the valley. On a clear day, the views can be breathtaking.
Rules and Regulations
- The Ensign Peak Trail is open daily from daylight to dark.
- Stay on marked trails to help prevent erosion and aid in re-vegetation efforts.
- No fires.
- No camping.
- No bikes or skateboards.
- Dogs allowed on leash.
- No littering.
- Pack out what you pack in.
- No restrooms or water available anywhere along the trail.
- This hike can be very hot in the peak of summer, so make sure all members of your group carry adequate water.