Sunrise, sunset. High noon. No matter what time of day you travel Squaw Peak Trail, the view of Utah Valley from its several outlooks is spectacular. And, contrary to what many young people may think, there is more to do at Squaw Peak than romance.
The Squaw Peak Trail, which extends 26 miles from Provo Canyon to Hobble Creek Canyon in Springville, provides outdoor enthusiasts with the opportunity to sightsee, hike, bike, or camp from mid-June until the snow flies.The road is paved from Provo Canyon to Hope Campground, a distance of approximately four miles. From there to Rock Canyon Campground the road is graded; from Rock Canyon to Hobble Creek Canyon, the road is unimproved and passable only in trucks or four-wheel drive vehicles, Forest Service officials advise. There is no garbage removal, so visitors must pack out their trash.
What you can do while there:
Take a day and tour the road by mountain bike or car, traveling from Provo Canyon to Hobble Creek Canyon, with stops at the scenic outlooks and at the campgrounds. Because water is only available along the first portion of the road, be sure to bring your own.
The first scenic outlook is approximately three miles from the Provo Canyon turnoff. Go at sunrise, with a picnic breakfast, and watch the valley come to life. Or, at sunset, with a picnic dinner.
At this turnout there are visible remains of an outlook built during the 1850s by a military contingent sent to the area to control skirmishes between Indians and settlers.
As the road gains in altitude, scrub oak is replaced by conifers, and there are lots of deer, small animals and birds.
Hope Campground (four miles from the turnoff at Provo Canyon) has 24 overnight camping sites. There are no improved hiking trails near Hope campground; it is the kind of place to park it if what you want is peace, quiet and solitude. The best time to visit Hope Campground is in late spring or early summer.
Rock Canyon Campground (six miles from the Provo Canyon turnoff) has seven overnight camping units. A stream passes near the campground.
Campsites at both Hope and Rock Canyon campgrounds have drinking water faucets, campfire pits and picnic tables. Also, both campgrounds have restrooms. Sites are available on a first come, first served basis for $7 per night, for up to seven days.
The adventuresome may wish to hike into Rock Canyon campground: a marked trail runs from the base of Rock Canyon (behind the Provo LDS Temple) two miles up to the camp site.
Loyal Clark, public information officer for the Uinta National Forest, said the trail ranges from easy to moderate hiking. It crosses a stream in several places. Clark said the trail is closed to motorized vehicles, and she warns hikers to beware of the poison ivy at the bottom of the trail.
She also said hikers should avoid the temptation to hike in the smaller side canyons. While hiking the trail it is possible to see geological evidence of the Wasatch Fault.
Here's a tale for the campfire: According to historian J. Marinus Jensen, an Indian chief, Big Elk, was fatally wounded by settlers in a skirmish near Rock Canyon. Later, as a military contingent approached the Indian wickiups, the remaining squaws and children scattered.
Big Elk's wife attempted to climb a precipice in Rock Canyon, fell and was killed. The peak was thus named Squaw Peak in her honor.
But the road wasn't always called Squaw Peak Road; it used to be called Alps Loop. That name was believed to be too similar to the Alpine Scenic Loop, which runs through the North Fork of Provo Canyon to American Fork Canyon.
A contest was held, and Shirley Davis Tooke of Orem was the first person to suggest the winning name. There was really only one realistic name for the trail, Tooke said: Squaw Peak Trail.