Bullion Divide

Bullion Divide
5 hours total
8.5 miles
 

The Bullion Divide is the high-altitude ridge run from Alta Ski Resort to White Pine Canyon. My coworker Tyler and I elected to take on an abbreviated version on Saturday due to expected showers and storms in the early afternoon. The route summits 6 named peaks over 11,000′: (in order) Sugar Loaf Peak, Mount Baldy, Hidden Peak, American Fork Twin Peaks (E and W), and Red Top. Three of those are prominent enough to make my Wasatch Eleveners list.

Alta to Sugar Loaf Peak

Sugar Loaf Peak
11,051′
1.42 miles

Sugar Loaf Peak is a breeze. We were on top in way less than an hour after leaving the Secret Lake trailhead. It winds around the west side of the lake up to the ridgeline, then a couple hundred feet more to the top.

Secret Lake and Sugar Loaf Peak
Summit of Sugar Loaf Peak. Bullion Divide is the ridge going from the right edge to center along the bald high peaks

Sugar Loaf Peak to Mt. Baldy

Mt. Baldy
11,068′
0.95 miles

The next segment of the trail follows a use trail down the shallow slope of Sugar Loaf, and up the moderate shoulder of Mt. Baldy. This was a quick segment with a scenic meadow at the saddle with a good view of Twin Peaks

American Fork Twins from Baldy Saddle

Mt. Baldy to Hidden Peak

Hidden Peak*
11,000′
1 mile

This is the easiest and least-scenic section of the trail, since you see the ugly Snowbird Aerial Tram station on top of Hidden Peak. Hidden Peak would have a  nice view but there is a huge concrete structure and a bunch of cat tracks everywhere. We ran into a bunch of hikers walking downhill from the tram stop. We passed through without stopping to bother to take a picture. Clouds were starting to roll in at this point so we were moving efficiently.

Clouds starting to roll in on the twins

Hidden Peak to American Fork Twin Peaks

American Fork Twin Peaks
11,489′
1.1 miles
Exposed Class 3 scramble

Now we are talking! After Hidden Peak, we scrambled along the knife-edge ridge to the base of the East ridge of American Fork Twin Peaks East. To our left was a long drop off into Mary Ellen Gulch, and Peruvian Gulch was to the right. This is not a place you want to slip and fall but the rock was solid and the scrambling straightforward. Not recommended in the rain, the rock would be slippery.

Looking back at Sugar Loaf, Baldy, and Hidden Peak

The ridge gains almost 900′ passing through quartzite, then this black band, and finally light-colored scree and talus. Finally, after half an hour or so, we reached the East Twin’s summit ridge.

From the summit of East Twin

It was quiet, peaceful, and beautiful up here, in contrast to experience I had on some of the more exposed summits like White Baldy or Pfeifferhorn which were windy and cold. We looked around for a bit before hiking over to West Twin for the summit shots.

East Twin from the summit of West
Cottonwood Ridge to the North
Pfeifferhorn and Lone Peak to the West
Great view of Box Elder Peak
AF Twins summit shot with Timpanogos in the background

I believe AF Twins is the only mountain from which you can see every other Wasatch Elevener (Provo Peak may be the exception but I think that was what I was looking at). We took in the sights for a bit longer and moved on to Red Top.

Red Top barely counts since it is not very prominent at all from West Twin; however, it blocks the view into White Pine Canyon so we headed over to take some more photos.

Looking back at both American Fork Twins
Summit of Red Top
Great panorama to the South and West
Snowbird and the descent ridge

Descent

3.8 miles
 

We headed down soon after to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms, starting down Red Top’s North Ridge on the standard Gad Valley route. The way down was tedious boulder hopping but the views were good.

AF West Twin – impressive geology
Great wildflowers!
Epic Pfeifferhorn shot

We reached the top of Gad 2 lift thinking we’d be walking downhill on grass on the Bassackwards ski run. Bad call. It was a giant boulderfield all the way down past the Little Cloud chair.

Giant boulder fields
Waterfall in Snowbird boundary

By about 1pm we were back at the Snowbird parking lot ready to make the car shuttle again. It’s a great way to get a bunch of high peaks all at once, but the highlight of the trip was definitely the scramble up American Fork Twins. Snowbird’s expansion plans call for building another stupid tram all the way to the top, so hike it while you can.

 

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