PETER SINKS is not a place many sane (non-weatherman) people would obviously like to visit in the winter, but Tom Hatch, a Deseret News copy editor, suggested a summer visit to Peter Sinks might make an interesting story. Having done several other Logan Canyon stories in recent years, I took the assignment.
On July 11, after an 85-mile drive from Layton, my brother Wayne and I arrived at the starting point for the hike to Peter Sinks. Myriad "sinks" dot the upper reaches of Logan Canyon, of which Peter Sinks is the kingpin. "Sinker," "Middle Sinks," "South Sinks" and "North Sinks" are all in the vicinity.We opted for the No. 1 route to Peter Sinks and were happy with that choice. We hiked briskly and arrived at Peter Sinks in 90 minutes.
We saw many cows grazing in first two miles, but there is no water available along the way. There was one shade mile along this route, but the trail, which used to be a jeep road, is disappearing, and we had to look carefully in spots to be sure we were still on the old path. Only the cows seem to keep this trail visible nowadays.
After arriving at the rim of Peter Sinks, we had to use binoculars to spot the remains of the weather station to be sure we were at the right place. There's nothing very pretty about Peter Sinks itself, since it's so desolate. But the mountain serenity and quiet of the area provide for a pleasant experience.
Although we somehow neglected to bring a thermometer along, the temperature was 95 degrees in Salt Lake City the day of our visit, 92 in Logan and 85 at Randolph.
As we descended into Peter Sinks, it wasn't like walking into a refrigerator, but it we estimated that the temperature was probably only 70-75 degrees at the bottom of the sinks because on top - in the sunlight of 4 p.m. - we strongly desired shade, whereas in the sinks itself, the air was more comfortable - about room temperature.
The bottom was quite dry. There we found the ruins of the original, white, Peter Sinks weather station, as well as a 15-foot-high metal stand that may serve as a more permanent marker for the site.
There was no garbage in Peter Sinks, but there was plenty of evidence that range cows don't mind visiting here occasionally and also cracks that may indicate that this sinks is still sinking.
Now, who was the "Peter" that this record-breaking sinks was named after? I was unable to find out, and none of the other Logan Canyon area sinks were named after anyone. Maybe that's a story to pursue another time.
- How to get to Peter Sinks:
Access to Peter Sinks is limited. The best modes of transportation are a helicopter or a snowmobile (in the winter only).
Otherwise, hiking is probably the only way to get to it, and there are two different hiking routes. Since Middle Sinks is close to the Logan Canyon road (U.S. 89), it might serve as an accessible alternative for those wanting to visit a sinks area - at any time of the year. Ample parking, even restrooms, are located at the bottom of Middle Sinks.
- The best route to Peter Sinks: The starting point is a dirt road that heads south and is at the top of Middle Sinks, about 100 feet west of the sign that says "Bear Lake Summit 7,800 feet." Either park at the space on the south side of the road and begin walking, or take a car or truck on the dirt road, since it's actually very smooth. (The only problem is finding a suitable place to park a car along that dirt road when you arrive at the trail's beginning.)
After a two-mile hike or drive, look for a four-wheel-drive trail on the west side in a cow pasture marked "road closed" on a vertical green marker. Many large boulders also block the way. Hike this trail for three miles up a small canyon, Burnt Fork, that gradually angles to the northwest.
This is a relatively level hike, with only about 500 feet or so of altitude change along the way.
Mountain bicycles could travel to the trail start, but not only is the route legally closed to them after that point, but so many downed trees and erosion barriers lie along the trail that bikers would be pushing their vehicles more than they could ride them.
Note: Forest Service and topographic maps of the Peter Sinks area are out of date. These old maps show several other dirt roads that may eventually reach Peter Sinks from the south, but the only way to know for sure is to chance it and travel them. If these roads were usable, bicycles or motorcycles could travel to the rim of Peter Sinks.)
- Another route: Zane Stephens likes to simply hike west of Middle Sinks - with no marked trail - and go over the mountain to Peter Sinks. (There are actually two mountains summits to climb before reaching Peter Sinks.)
Stephens said to allow about six hours for this hike, difficult because of the lack of a trail, the rugged travel through trees and brush and also the steep terrain. He recommends having a Forest Service or topographic map, along with a compass, for this route.