Moderately hard mountain hike that lets you summit two separate peaks with views of Utah Valley, Wasatch Mountains, and the West Desert/Great Basin. From start to finish you will enjoy this hike!
Take I-15 to the Payson Main Street exit. Travel south through town and turn east on 100 N and travel to the next stoplight, 600 E, and turn south (right). Follow this road for approximately 12 miles (600 N will turn into Payson Canyon Road). There is a small turn off and a sign designating the trailhead.
The twin peaks of Santaquin Peak and Loafer Mountain are a good challenge and can be done in one day, through a lot of hikers choose to backpack in and take time exploring the area with it many diverging trails. This hike is separated into 5 segments: Trailhead/Benny Creek, Mud Hollow, Cirque, Saddle and Loafer Mountain, Santaquin Peak.
Trailhead/Benny Creek: The trailhead starts out going through a grove of aspen as the trail follows the road for a little bit. It will then swing around to the north and climb a small hill. As you crest the hill you will see Benny Creek going to the east down the mountain. You will decent the hill until you see a small corral. This is also an intersection for the Benny Creek Trail. This is also a great trail to follow if you are interested on a side trip. The trail to Loafer Mountain is marked here so make sure you follow the signs. This will lead to the next segment.
Mud Hollow: Mud Hollow is aptly named if you are going in the early months, as runoff will make the bottom of the trail wet and mucky. Luckily this doesn’t last too long and you will start to climb on the east side of the hollow above the hollow bottom. About 2/3 of a mile, the trail will go around a bend and start climbing up a knoll away from the hollow. This can be steep in places as you climb so give yourself a rest now and again. About a quarter mile of climbing and about 650 feet of elevation gain. As you top the knoll, you will start to see the trees become sparse against the southern exposure of the mountain. This from here to the top of the mountain will have little shade and direct sunlight so it will feel hotter as you climb so make sure you bring plenty of water.
Cirque: Once you leave the knoll, you will leave the ridgeline for a little bit and go to the east along the mountain. There are a couple switchbacks that will lead you back to the ridgeline. At the ridgeline, you will see the Cirque before you. In spring this is very green from the newly melted snow. The trail will follow the ridgeline for about a quarter mile and then takes an abrupt turn to the west (left) and will start to circle the cirque climbing slowly up the mountain as you do. As you get to the other side you will climb to the top of the ridge and will find yourself on the Loafer Mountain Saddle.
Saddle and Loafer Mountain: At the saddle you will see the trail split going North and South. The south trail will follow the ridgeline along Loafer Canyon and back down to Payson Canyon. The north trail will follow the saddle and the cirque you just climbed for about a third of a mile. To the east you will see another cirque on the other side of the one you just climbed. The trail will continue to the north along the ridgeline and you will find yourself climbing Loafer Mountain. Loafer (as the name applies) has no actual peak and is shaped more like a loaf so though it will be steep in areas it isn’t anything too unmanageable. Near the top, the elevation gain will start to slow and you can easily walk to the highest point. From the top you have some great views of the Wasatch Mountains to the north and south and some of the Utah Valley (parts of it will be blocked by Santaquin Peak). You will also see the Thistle area and Strawberry Ridge to the North East.
Santaquin Peak: From the top of Loafer Mountain look to the northwest and you will see a trail that crosses goes down to a hill between the Loafer and Santaquin Peak. Take the trail down loafer and across the first small saddle of the hill. You will then cross the hill along the South Side. There is a lower and upper trail across the hill, but the lower seems to be in better condition. The trail will meet the ridge on the other side of the hill and will then start the ascent up Santaquin Peak and is about ¼ of a mile and about 300 feet in elevation gain. From the top, you will see the best view of Utah Valley, Spanish Fork Peak and Mt Timpanogos to the North (and on a clear day you will see into the Salt Lake Valley). To the west you will see West Mountain, Utah Lake, Eureka Mountains and the West Desert. To the South you will see Mt Nebo and HWY 89 to Fairview and Manti.
The Outdoor Type ebook Sydney Outdoor Adventures has information on a whole range of outdoor activities in Sydney, from great surf beaches, hikes, mountain biking trails to camping spots, parks and reserves and diving locations. See here for more information.