My campsite was bustling with more hummingbirds than I had ever seen—I stopped counting at seven. The hummers had come to Naomi Peak's north ridge for the same reason I had: the phenomenal wildflower show, which many bloom aficionados consider the best in Utah.
The mellow crest of the Bear River Range allowed me to wander along the ridgetop for miles, amid flower-studded meadows with broad views of the twin summits of Mts. Gog and Magog. It was a scene straight out of The Sound of Music. And here's the clincher: Even during a summer holiday weekend, I found solitude along the ridge north of Naomi Peak.
My favorite wildflower-viewing route begins at Tony Grove Lake, where blue columbine, scarlet paintbrush, and yellow mule-ears paint the meadows with a rainbow's worth of colors. After this brilliant start, it's a 3-mile ascent to Naomi Peak and a panoramic view that stretches from Idaho to Utah's Uinta Mountains. To spend more time in the high country, hike north along the crest toward Doubletop Mountain, off-trail over easy terrain, for continual vistas and memorable campsites.
When you're ready to come down, return to the Naomi Peak Trail, which quickly plunges to the broad, flowery meadows at the junction of the Cherry Creek and High Creek Trails. Just below is High Creek Lake, a gem of a small alpine pond, and the beginning of a splendid trek through a lush, north-facing drainage. Snow lingers late in the cliffs above the lake, while verdant swaths of wildflowers, gushing springs, and small waterfalls fill the valley.
As you drop below the lake, Cherry Peak comes into view. The sheer sweep of rock soars more than a thousand vertical feet. Four more miles of downhill hiking take you past ponds, through meadows checkered with moose tracks, and along the rushing current of High Creek. Don't be surprised if the urge to yodel lingers long after the smell of wildflowers fades away.
Expedition Planner: Mt. Naomi Wilderness, Utah
DRIVE TIME: The Mt. Naomi Wilderness is
1 1/2 hours (90 miles) north of Salt Lake City (about 30 minutes northeast of Logan).
THE WAY: From Logan in northern Utah, drive east and then north 19 miles on US 89 to Tony Grove Lake Road (Forest Service Road 003). Take this road west for 7 miles to the Tony Grove Lake trailhead.
TRAILS: A 60-mile trail network laces the Mt. Naomi Wilderness. For a weekend trip, hike the 10-mile section of maintained trail from Tony Grove Lake, over Naomi Peak, and down High Creek Trail. Combine that with a ridgeline walk north from Naomi Peak to Doubletop Mountain, an 8-mile (round-trip) jaunt on faint paths and easy, off-trail terrain. Another good option is to hike the flower-filled first 2 miles of the Cherry Creek Trail and ascend Cherry Peak on its south side.
ELEVATION: The crest of the Bear River Range stays above 9,000 feet for 13 miles (Naomi Peak tops out at 9,979 feet). The lowest trailheads hover around 6,000 feet.
CAN'T MISS: The tristate view from Naomi Peak.
CROWD CONTROL: You may see some flower-ogling dayhikers in the meadows near Tony Grove Lake. Solitude rules on the Doubletop Mountain and Cherry Creek Trails.
SEASON: Late June through October. Expect snow the rest of the time. Wildflowers peak in mid- to late summer.
GUIDES: Bridgerland Hiking Trails, a free Forest Service publication, is available from the Logan Ranger District (see Contact below). USGS topo map is Naomi Peak (888-ASK-USGS; http://ask.usgs.gov; $4). You can also get the hard-to-find guidebook Cache Trails, by John Wood (Bridgerland Audubon Society), at Logan-area retail stores or online at www.logannature.org/nature/books.html.
WALK SOFTLY: Don't pick or trample the wildflowers. Avoid camping at High Creek Lake.
CONTACT: Logan Ranger District, Wasatch-Cache National Forest, (435) 755-3620; www.fs.fed.us/wcnf.