Clayton Peak

Elevation: 10,721
Location: Wasatch Range, Utah

Clayton Peak from Brighton ski slopes Clayton Peak is one of those easily climbed peaks in the Brighton area. You can drive to the 8,700 foot parking lot and climb the 2,000 feet to it's summit (all trail) and be back within a couple of hours. The peak can also be climbed via Guardsman Pass and Clayton's north ridge. From here it is a short, but steep hike.

From the Brighton parking lot, the route to Clayton requires hiking the Lake Mary trail most of the way to the lake. Near Dog Lake, a trail branches east towards Snake Creek Pass. Another trail exists that branches off earlier. Both routes are easy, enjoyable hikes. Brighton ski area, much like others in the area, is constantly changing and the best route to the pass may change. Consult the most up to date books or maps. Much of the way, Clayton Peak will be clearly visible.

From the pass at just over 10,000 feet you'll have a good view back to the south towards Mount Timpanogos. You'll see a trail branching to the right that switchbacks up the slopes of Clayton some 700 feet above. Follow this trail, which gets a little rocky at the end up to the peak.

Nearing the summit of Clayton Peak via the north ridge Below the peak you'll see tiny Lackawaxen Lake, and the Heber area far off in the distance. Across the Brighton resort you'll clearly see the peaks near Mount Wolverine. Atop the peak is a mailbox wedged into the rocks where you can write about your summit experience. The distance to the peak from either of these routes is roughly 2.5 miles. The trip back is short and sweet. Clayton is not one of the more exciting Wasatch summits, but like Sunset Peak, a fairly high peak that can be attained with minimal effort.

2003 Update: Looking for fairly easy climbs to get back into the swing of things, I opted to try Clayton via the north ridge, a route I had not done before. Because the hike is so short (about 1.5 miles each way from Guardsman Pass, climbing a little over 1,000 feet), I opted to extend the trip to climb nearby Jupiter Peak (elev. 9,998), one of the prominent peaks over the Park City area. I was going to try nearby Scott Hill, but the extreme heat and my lack of conditioning this year didn't allow for that.

I have done the standard Brighton route up Clayton multiple times and generally find it to be an unspectacular hike. I found the north ridge to be far more to my liking. The hike starts at Guardsman Pass (elev. 9,700) above Big Cottonwood Canyon. I had not been up this road in years, and much to my surprise it is now paved all the way to the pass via Big Cottonwood. From the pass an obvious trail leads steeply up Clayton's north ridge to just below a false summit (elev. 10,420) on the west side. The trail is faint as it bypasses this peak, and then re-appears as you descend 200 feet to the saddle between these peaks. The views southwest of Timpanogos and the high Cottonwood Canyon peaks is wonderful. To the east several small lakes can be seen on the Park City side. The trail climbs steeply again as it ascends to Clayton's rocky summit. Near the top the trail fades into the rocks and some easy boulder hopping is required. Having started so early to beat the heat, I found myself alone on the summit and signed the register in the mailbox, which has somehow managed to survive this easily and often climbed peak.

Jupiter Peak seen from just north of un-named 10,026 After descending the steep trail back to Guardsman Pass I decided to try nearby Jupiter Peak. I originally planned to take the steep trail directly north of the pass to the ridge to an un-named 10,026 foot peak. However after the already steep ascent/descent of Clayton, I took a gentler route by descending the gravel road from Guardsman to the east for about .2 miles and taking a jeep track that lead north back to the main ridge where I simply continued east to the somewhat unspectacular summit of Jupiter Peak. This open, rounded ridge felt much more like the peaks of Davis County than the much rougher Cottonwood peaks nearby. There was a fine view and steep drop into Park City, and the small emergency hut just south of the peak made for a nice place to take a rest. I descended west across the ridge past the 10,026 foot peak in hopes of climbing Scott Hill, but tired and hot I caught onto a road that bent back around to Guardsman Pass and called it a day.