Ensign Peak is one of the most well-known and most popular hikes along the Wasatch Front. A quick hike to an overlook above the State Capitol building and downtown Salt Lake City, it provides excellent views of the entire valley.
Distance: About 1 mile round-trip
Elevation Gain: 429 feet
Hiking Time: 30 minutes-1 hour
Best times of year: Spring and Fall. There is little to no shade along the trail so if you do this hike in Summer, start early or go late!
Driving Directions: Go to the Utah State Capitol Building and head east around it on East Capitol Boulevard. Continue uphill east, and either Edgecombe Drive or Ensign Vista Drive will take you to the trailhead on Churchhill Drive, as part of the Ensign Peak Nature Park.
History of Ensign Peak: On July 26, 1847, two days after the Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young and a group of his followers climbed to the top of this mountain to survey the valley. One of them declared the peak Ensign Peak.
The trail up Ensign Peak is short and steep. There is a small park with benches at the trail head, but there are NO RESTROOMS.
This is a great hike for families. I did it with my two little ones, ages 4 and 2. I carried my 25 pound two year old on my back the whole way. My 4 year old was able to walk pretty much the entire time, although we were going pretty slow by the end.
The trail immediately offers great views of the Salt Lake Valley and the mountains. On clear days, you can see the length of the entire valley, clear down to the Point of the Mountain.
At the top is an historical marker that stands tall and provides a small amount of shade. There are bars at the top to keep little ones in the area, but keep a close eye on them at all times since they can easily squeeze through these bars.
Bring plenty of water and a snack for the top. You've worked hard to get there!
This particular time we went, we started at 10:00 am in June and it got hot very quickly. I would recommend starting closer to 8:00 am in the Summer or do this hike in Spring or Fall when the temperature isn't too hot or cold.
I did this hike with some youth in our church group in the evening as well. It's a great sunset hike, just make sure you bring flashlights to make it down safely.
Summary: I love this hike. It's one of the shortest and easiest hikes to do with little ones (under age 5). Without kids, it will take roughly 30 minutes to reach the top, but with little kids I would plan on a full hour to make it to the top. Make sure you and your kids use the restroom before leaving home as there are no public restrooms at the trail head (bummer).