Antelope Island (a Utah State Park) is a small island in the Great Salt Lake, and is home to diverse groups of animals not often viewed so close to a city, including bison, bighorn sheep, and antelopes (pronghorns). In addition to the animals, there are many hiking trails along the island that offer beautiful views of the surrounding lake and the Wasatch Mountain Range to the east. Moreover, many trails on the island are at lower elevation than the trails in the Bear River Range near Logan, so we headed there to escape the chilly November weather. The road to the “island” is somewhat unique because it is built over the stinking Salt Lake mud flats (and there is a $10 fee to drive on it). In fact, at this point in the season, much of the lake in and around the densely populated Wasatch Front is water-less. However, on the west side of Antelope Island, visible from the visitor’s center, the permanent lake extends to its terminus on seemingly endless, cloud-wrapped Great Basin mountain ranges. We stopped first at the visitor’s center for maps and a restroom. We glanced at the extensive exhibit areas, too, detailing northern Utah’s unique geological history as a sea bed sprinkled with snowy archipelagos and the diverse wildlife on the island. Sprout was already primed for a nap, so we found a trail that didn’t commit us to a long drive to the south end of the island where the historic ranchers settled. We parked at the base of the Gravel Pit trail (an old jeep road that is now closed), which winds up a sandy, grassy incline to Beacon Knob, elevation 4966 ft.
Compared to other hikes in Northern Utah, this one is quite open and gentle, perhaps even exotic. Sprout was out by the time we got to the trail head. We stuck her on our backs and enjoyed the peaceful, adult hiking time. When she woke she was ready to hike herself. The wide open space provided a great opportunity for her to practice her hiking. She seemed to appreciate the grand views.
At Beacon Knob, there was a table and bench that overlooked the east side of the lake and downtown Salt Lake City. It was a nice spot to enjoy a snack, but the breeze quickly became chilly.
We set off back down the hill with Sprout leading the way, keeping our eyes peeled for grazing bison. Binoculars are essential for this trail.