Although Mount Ogden is only the third highest summit in Weber County, behind Willard and Ben Lomond peaks, this 9,572-foot mountain offers some rugged scenery and dramatic views of Weber County and Ogden Valley.

The peak has traditionally been kind of the "Mount Olympus of Ogden," offering a variety of access routes and bird's-eye views, though access to the peak greatly improved from the east side this summer.

The Needles Express Gondola, operating on weekends from Snow Basin, this summer for the first time ever, can cut off a 2,000 climb to the top , as well as a 2,000-foot decent.

Trail rating: ***

Scenic rating: ****

Distance: Eight round-trip miles from Snowbasin by foot; or some 12 miles or more from either Taylor Canyon or Beus Canyon. Taking the Gondola offers about a five-mile round-trip hike by dirt roads, or a four-mile trek along obscure paths along the skyline.

Difficulty: From moderate on the Snowbasin route to difficult from the western access routes.

Elevation gain: 3,200 feet from Snowbasin's parking lot, or 4,700 from the two western routes. About a 900-foot climb (plus a little more backtracking), if you take the Gondola.

Season of use: From mid-June to mid-October, depending on snowfall in early autumn.

Directions to the trailhead: For the easiest hike from Snowbasin, go to 12th Street in Ogden and head east up Ogden Canyon (U-39). After traveling several miles along the edge of Pineview Reservoir, watch for the U-226 turnoff on the right to Snowbasin. Hike west from the parking lot along the dirt road under the tram. (Orient yourself by studying the ski resort's overall terrain map on a sign at the bottom, or better yet, pick up one of the resort's trail maps before leaving on a hike.)

The main route to Snowbasin these days to go up Weber Canyon on I-84, or go up Ogden Canyon and then take the Trapper's Loop Road (U-167) north or south. The signed Snowbasin turnoff is along the summit of Trapper's Loop.

To take the Beus Canyon trail, go east up Ogden's 46th Street, watching for trailhead signs. To hike the Taylor Canyon route, go east on Ogden's 27th Street and park at the top of the road and head for the canyon's mouth.

Trail outline/description: The Snowbasin trail features all dirt roads in ski lift areas. You can walk from the bottom and ride the Gondola down for free, but a Snowbasin map is helpful for first-timers. Mount Ogden has a trio of metal towers a top its summit.

For Gondola riders, the ride ends at the Needles Lodge, where Mount Ogden is hidden behind the Needles rock formation to the northwest direction. For the easiest approach, hike down the dirt road below the lodge and then loop back to the west (upward) when a junction of dirt roads if reached.

A rougher approach is to take the loop trail south of the lodge and at the half-way point, scramble over loose gravel and grass to the mountain saddle. That's Beus Canyon below and follow a faint trail north toward Mount Ogden. After summiting the next peak northward, Mount Ogden is easily visible, though the most direct route is make your own trail toward a jeep road and some propane tanks.

These days, a dirt road goes all the way to the top of Mount Ogden, though the hiker's trail is designated around the the southeast side by some signs.

From Malans Basin, the path is faded, and hikers will have to create their own trail in the upper reaches. Beus Canyon is a little better, but still rugged in the upper reaches.

Cautions: Children will need supervision along any of the routes, and hikers should not tamper with any of the electronic equipment on the peak. There's a real risk of getting lost along the Taylor Canyon trail above Malans Basin. Cliffs on the peak's east side also present a potential hazard for children.

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Highlights: The view from the saddle onward is well worth the effort, and the area above Malans Basin is rarely visited and offers some real solitude. Mountain bikers and tourists frequent the trails/roads below Mount Ogden, but few still make a trek to the top.

Walking on the smooth new cement of the helicopter pad on the summit is intriguing.

Tidbits: Weber State University traditionally sponsors a hike to Mount Ogden the last weekend in September or the first weekend in October. This event is called "The Flaming W Hike." A plaque on the peak's summit outlines this hike's history.

Malan's Basin has its own extensive history, with a hotel there in the late 1800s.

For more information: contact the Ogden Ranger District, 1-801-625-5306.