Updated on May 6, 2022
Day 1 of 2020 Utah Trip, Malans Peak
First day of my Utah trip as I hiked Malans Peak outside Ogden at sunset. It’s not a very long trail that fitted in my schedule after getting off the plane in the afternoon, which rewarded me with spectacular views of distant Great Salt Lake and nearby towns.
It was 4:15 pm by the time I got to Enterprise car rental store in downtown Salt Lake City. Judging by rental prices (138 dollars for 8 days, tax included), I assumed their business must have taken a huge hit from COVID.
Which wasn’t the case. The three store associates were running all over the place trying to tend to the constant flow of customers. The place was even more bustling than my last time here, which was mid-July without COVID. Just like my flight, another demonstration that low fares were attractive, even in a pandemic.
After that, just like all my other road trips, I headed for the Walmart for supplies. I actually checked into my Airbnb room first, before driving North for an additional 40 minutes to the trailhead of Malans Peak.
As for what to do for the remainder of the day, I thought watching sunset somewhere scenic should be a good idea. Since my plan for the next day was pretty flexible, it wouldn’t hurt if I stayed up late tonight.
So I did a quick search about hiking trails near Salt Lake City, that weren’t too difficult nor too long, offering views to the West, and Malans Peak came up on my radar.
Here’s GPS tracking:
I left the trailhead at 7pm, for the 3.6km hike to the top of Malans Peak. That’s 2 hours before sunset, which I reckon would be more than enough time for me to reach the peak.
There was a complex trail system at the foot of the mountain, so it’s easy to get lost / onto the wrong trail. At most intersections there were markers. Unfortunately, Malans Mountain / Peak was often the last entry on the markers, and I took the wrong fork of trails, twice, before realizing that.
The first part of the trail was following Taylor Creek (below). It was mostly covered under canopies of trees, with all the nice features of a trail: wide, dry, and (mostly) even, by that I mean the occasional rocks in the trail were easily avoidable. My skin loved the former, while my feet loved the latter.
2 kilometers into the hike, I was at the second switchback, which was also an overlook of cities below and distant Great Salt Lake.
I was also here at 9:30pm, 30 minutes after sunset, when city lights were taking over a fading twilight. They were two totally different experiences.
After the second switchback / overlook and as the trail was gaining elevation, undergrowth by the trail was getting sparser. And most noticeably, soaring pine trees were taking the place of other low-lying trees near the trailhead.
But it’s still even and well covered from the sun in most places, and my skin and feet were still enjoying it.
Probably because I was rushing all the way uphill, not wanting to miss the sunset, I arrived at Malans Peak at 8:14pm, with quite some time to soak in all the scenery till sunset.
I even have time to play with my drone, with the following panorama.
By FAA’s B4UFLY app, Malans Peak was located just outside the restriction zone of Ogden-Hinckley Airport.
While I was on top of Malans Peak, three other folks were also there, two of which planned to paraglide down the mountain. Unfortunately, the first of them didn’t launch at the correct time/place/wind, and crashed in the bushes below. Fortunately, it seemed that he didn’t suffered any major injuries from the crash.
Click here to display photos of the slideshow
Finally, it’s sunset time.
Unfortunately, the clouds were pretty thick in the distant horizon, so the sun seemed to set behind the clouds, not the mountains. Compared with the fiery skies that it lit up and the breathtaking views leading up to it, the sunset was a little bit underwhelming.
After enjoying these spectacular views at dusk with half a dozen people at Malans Peak, I raced back downhill. It was getting dark, but cell phone lights were enough to keep me from getting lost. And since the trail was so nice and even, I descended the mountain at trail-running speed, aided by gravity, thrilling and effortless.
Beyond the final switchback, it started to drizzle. Having seen a few clouds at the summit and worried about a pending thunderstorm (which did hit on my drive back, not very severe though), I hastened my pace, and got back to the trailhead lot in less than an hour.
By the way, parking wasn’t allowed at the trailhead starting at 10pm. However, just across the street there seemed to be (free) street parking in front of some townhouses.
A quick conclusion for the day. There are certainly more fulfilling trails in the Salt Lake Valley region, but for a trail of this length (I was back at the parking lot in three hours, spending a quarter of that on the summit), Malans Peak was a very accessible, non-technical trail for people of all shapes, certainly worth visiting for its magnificent views, especially at dusk.