I’m not in Florida anymore. Standing atop a retired beacon tower at the summit of Mount Wire, my view spanned from the Wasatch Range across Salt Lake City west to the Oquirrh Mountains. Then the realization hit me, this is my new home.
Our hike up started at a trailhead located on the east side of the University of Utah on Colorow Road near the Historical Museum. This trail is dog friendly, so George brought his pooch Indy along for the hike. Most dogs run off-leash so I wouldn’t advise bringing an anti-social pup along. We hiked to the “Living Room” an area on Red Butte where hikers have arranged rocks into trail furniture in the shape of chairs, sofas and tables. Pack a lunch and perhaps some wine to enjoy along with the epic views from this popular spot.
From the Living Room, we scrambled higher to the top of the ridgeline which we followed a ways before descending down though a saddle then up the snow-covered north slope of Mount Wire. With the warmer days of spring, the snow had crusted in places making it a bit slick, but a lot of hikers and even trail runner have broken-in the route so it wasn’t terribly bad. Just below the summit to the southwest, stand two passive microwave repeaters.
At the summit of Mount Wire, the snow gave way to bare rock and a brisk wind had me digging out another layer, and an old airway beacon tower beckoned me to climb its dilapidated structure. The cold ladder rungs nearly froze my fingers, but the reward was a spectacular unobstructed view of the city and surrounding mountains.
Our walk down took a little more care thanks to the slick snow, and true to form, I fall on my butt more than once. However, one brazen trail runner blasted down the slope at full speed, fell, rolled two times, rose to his feet and continued running as though he’d done that move dozen times a day. I couldn’t help but applaud his performance and appreciate the entertainment.
Blanketed in snow, the mountain was beautiful; however, I understand that in warmer months it is brown and drab. Regardless, the views from Mount Wire are worth the moderately strenuous, but short hike. We returned down the canyon, creating a loop for a total distance of 5.38 miles and 2,361 feet of elevation gain. There are other routes directly to the summit as well but we enjoyed the views from the Living Room and the ridge beyond before turning toward Mount Wire. This hike is also known as “Big Beacon” if you are doing a search for more information on the interwebs.
Having just arrived from sea level a few days before, the over 7,000-foot elevation had me huffing and puffing. Additionally, it was a steep hike in places. By the time we were done, I was ready to relax with some good coffee, so we headed to Coffee Garden, near my new rental; it’s the sort of cafe that paints cute designs in your cappuccino with foam. Once again, I looked around and said to myself again, “I’m not in Florida anymore,” and fell even more in love with my new hometown.
In addition to standard day-hike gear, I suggest adding trekking poles and extra layers if you plan to hike this trail during cooler months when there is snow on the ground. From the parking area to the summit, I added two layers and a hat due to the cool wind on the bare slopes.
If hiking with a dog, don’t forget to pack a bowl or other water source for your four-legged hiking pal.
Just the Facts
Trailhead: Located on the east side of the University of Utah on Colorow Road near the Historical Museum. Park along the road.
Distance: The route we took was 5.38 miles, however there are more direct routes.
Difficulty: I’d call it moderate because the distance is short. Sections of the hike are steep and sometimes a scramble. The elevation gain is a total of 2,361 over half the distance (according to our GPS) so that will likely wear you out.
Dogs: Bring them! Just leave anti-social pups at home because almost all of the dogs on this trail will be off leash and ready to say “hello.”
An awesome 360 image of The Living Room: 360 Cities The Living Room on Red Butte