Northern Skyline Trail
The Northern Skyline Trail is a great hill-climb with
awesome ridgetop views over Ogden and the Great Salt Lake. The trail is
intermediate technical but very strenuous aerobic. From the southern end
(North Ogden Divide trailhead), it climbs 2600 vertical feet over 6.5
Handlebar view from the ridgeline,
looking towards north Ogden 4000 feet below. The islands of the Great Salt
Lake can barely be made out below the horizon. Photos September 21, 2001 by Bruce
You can get to the trail's top via the Ben Lomond trail, with a climb
of 3000 feet over 6.1 miles.
(This does NOT include the side-trip to Ben Lomond Peak, an
almost-impossible brute climb.) The combined trail is 12.6 miles in length, with
several different riding options. This is an awesome ride, if you've got
the thigh and lungs for it.
Option 1: Southern out-and-back. Ride north from
the North Ogden Divide trailhead to the Ben Lomond intersection, then turn
back for 13 miles, 2600 vertical.
| Option 2: Point-to-point. From either
the North Ogden Divide or the Ben Lomond trailhead, ride the entire 12.6 miles,
using a shuttle to return.
Option 3: 20-mile loop. (If you're
riding clockwise from North Ogden Pass, you'll have to fight up 1000
vertical feet of paved road at the end of your loop.)
Climbing from the North Ogden Divide,
green manzanita (foreground) contrasts with red maple, with yellow aspens
higher up among the fir. We're heading towards the highest point on the
||From the North Ogden Divide trailhead, the trail rises at a
10% grade over several switchbacks. The surface is fairly smooth, with a
bit of loose limestone rock and occasional rough outcrops. At 2 miles, the
trail rises along a ridgeline, heading west away from the Ogden Valley. At
3 miles, the trail is in fir, pinion, and quaking aspen as it climbs along
the east side of the rising ridgeline.
Trail view on a cooler northern slope,
with ferns among tall Douglas Fir.
|At 4 miles, you've climbed 2100 vertical feet, and the trail
crosses to the west side of the ridge, which it follows to the Ben Lomond
intersection. The grade here is generally uphill, but with a little
up-and-down. You'll climb another 500 feet over the next 2.6 miles. This
ridgeline ride is visually stunning -- you're 4000 feet above a valley
that's horizontally only 1/2 mile away -- while viewing rocky cliffs on
the skirts of Ben Lomond peak.
View back south along the ridgeline
with stunted fir and pinion. You can see the trail below the ridgeline
||At 6.5 miles, you reach the intersection with the Ben Lomond Peak
trail, and the Skyline Trail's highest point. From here, you can turn
around, try your luck at Ben Lomond, or turn east for a steady descent to
the North Park trailhead at mile 12.6.
View of Ben Lomond Peak, from 2.5
miles away at the start of the ridgeline ride.
|Crazy-biker Option: The 1.5 mile trail to the peak of Ben
Lomond rises 1000 feet over multiple sharp switchbacks. Average grade is
15%, and the surface is loose and rocky. If you decide to take your bike
to the summit, expect to pack it much of the way.
|Bruce flies along the
ridgeline descending the
Northern Skyline after climbing Ben Lomond.
|Dominic Bria drops down
"the wall" -- a short
rock garden along the ridge. August 2008.
|For most of the climb, you're riding on limestone from the
Cambrian and Ordovician Periods, about 500 million years ago. On the
ridgeline south of Ben Lomond, you'll also pass through quartzite outcrops
from the Precambrian Period, with occasional metamorphic slate and schists.
This area of the Wasatch is geologically complex, with rock layers
up-lifted, tilted, and over-thrust, so older rocks may be found at higher
altitudes than younger ones.
Looking northwest towards Willard Bay,
rough quartzite tops the cliffs near Ben Lomond Peak.
||The ridgeline is an unusual ecosystem of pinion pine and
manzanita shrub, plus other low woody brush. On the eastern downwind side
of the ridge are more typical Wasatch forests of fir, aspen, choke cherry,
Even in late September, a lupine
blooms along the trail.
|Getting there: From the Ogden 12th Street exit, drive
east (towards the mountains). At 400 East (Washington), turn left (north)
and drive 5 miles. After the street narrows, veers slightly east, and
enters a residential area, turn right (east) at 3100 North. Drive 4.1
miles to the parking area on your right, at the highest spot of the North
Ogden Divide. The trail begins right across the road from the turn-in to
the parking area.
|Alternate, via Ogden Valley: Drive straight into Ogden Canyon from the 12th Street exit.
At Pineview Reservoir, turn left across the dam. At the stop sign in Eden
(shopping center and gas station), turn left. Turn left again at the
stop sign in Liberty, then go straight west until the road begins climbing
up to the Divide.
Alternative, North Ogden Trailhead: The North Ogden
Canyon trailhead is 2750 N. 1375 E., just south of 3100 N (the street that
heads from Ogden up to the Divide). From here, it's a 2.4 mile fire-road
climb up to the trailhead at the Divide.
Original review 2001. Updated with a new ride 2008.
Copyright 2008 Mad Scientist Software Inc