Gobblers Knob Alexander Basin
(Mount Olympus Wilderness Area)

excerpts from the book
Utah's Incredible Backcountry Trails
by David Day

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Distance: 7.0 miles (plus 3.4 miles by car or bicycle)

Walking time: 6 1/4 hours

Elevations: 4,030 ft. gain, 3,110 ft. loss
   Bowman Trailhead (start): 6,220 ft.
     Baker Pass: 9,340 ft.
     Gobblers Knob: 10,246 ft.
     Alexander Basin Trailhead: 7,140 ft.

Trail: The trail to the top of Gobblers Knob is mostly well maintained and easy to follow, but for 0.7 mile, from Gobblers Knob down into the upper part of Alexander Basin, there is no trail. The descent is very steep and rocky but not technically difficult.

Season: Midsummer to mid-fall. Alexander Basin is usually filled with snow each year until July. Also, the road to the Alexander Basin Trailhead is closed each year until June 1. For current trail conditions call the Salt Lake Ranger District, Wasatch-Cache National Forest, at (801) 943-1794.

Vicinity: Mill Creek Canyon, 10 miles east of Salt Lake City

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     The relative ease with which Gobblers Knob can be climbed makes it one of the most popular summit destinations in the Wasatch Mountains. It is the highest point on the ridge separating Mill Creek Canyon from Big Cottonwood Canyon, and the view from the top is exceptional. It lies on the boundary of the Mount Olympus Wilderness Area just above the north-facing bowl of picturesque Alexander Basin. Gobblers Knob’s proximity to Alexander Basin is in large part why it is such a delightful place; but, regrettably, it was also this proximity that prevented it, in 1984, from being wholly included in the Mount Olympus Wilderness Area. As a result, there is now a very real possibility that some day the view from the peak will be marred by the presence of ski lifts on its northern slopes.
     Alexander Basin is one of those alpine gems for which the future is very uncertain. A fierce political battle was fought in the early 1980s over the boundaries of the proposed Mount Olympus Wilderness Area. Protection of Alexander Basin was a high priority among Utah’s environmentalists, but since the basin is used by helicopter skiers they were opposed by the state’s skiing industry. In the end the skiers won, and the scenic glacial cirque was excluded. The boundaries of the Mount Olympus Wilderness Area are now distorted by a huge gouge on the eastern side where Alexander Basin lies. Not only is the basin still used by helicopter skiers, but, even worse, it could easily become part of a future ski resort in upper Mill Creek Canyon. Proposals for such a resort have already been submitted to the Forest Service.

     For the first 1.1 miles the trail to Gobblers Knob follows Bowman Fork, a small, pleasantly shaded creek that originates north of the peak. All too soon, however, the path leaves the water and begins a series of switchbacks up through a stand of large conifers to the top of White Fir Pass, 600 feet above Bowman Fork. Once you reach the top of he pass the forest becomes less dense, and the trail settles down to a more gradual climb. Soon you will see Mount Raymond looming through the quaking aspen, and shortly after that you will see a trail to Alexander Basin departing on the left. Continuing upward towards Gobblers Knob, the next point of interest is Baker Spring.
     Baker Spring was once the site of an old mining camp. There was a cabin here until the 1980s, but unfortunately it burned down and now there is no trace left of it. If you look around, however, you will see remnants of the mining activity. Baker Mine is about 300 yards south of the spring, and there are remains of a smaller mine just above the trail. Gobblers Knob is said to have gotten its name from the noise made by a flock of turkeys that were once kept by miners living in the area.
     Beyond Baker Spring the scenery continues to become more and more inspiring. As you pass the 9,000 foot level the forest opens up to some fine views of Gobblers Knob, Mount Raymond, and the Great Salt Lake. When you reach the summit of Baker Pass, 0.8 mile later, you will be greeted by a panorama of the Twin Peaks Wilderness Area south of Big Cottonwood Canyon. To the right and to the left are Mount Raymond and Gobblers Knob, both rising about 900 feet above the saddle. Also at the crest of the pass you will see two other trails taking off in either direction along the ridge to the two nearby summits. You should turn east here for the climb to the top of Gobblers Knob. (See page 120 for a description of the trail up Mount Raymond.)
     The trail up Gobblers Knob is not maintained, but it is well used and easy to follow. Except for the fact that it is all uphill, it is a fairly easy walk. The only downside is that there are several false summits along the route, and it is discouraging to see another heart-pounding climb in front of you after reaching what you thought was the top. Nevertheless, 45 minutes of determined walking should get you to the top. The views are similar to the views from Baker Pass, but from this vantage point you can look down on Mount Raymond (5 feet lower).
     Alexander Basin is the large bowl immediately northeast of Gobblers Knob. There is no trail from the top of the Knob into Alexander Basin, but it is not too difficult to drop off the summit and pick your way down through the basin to the trail below. The best way is to circle around the south side of Gobblers Knob to a saddle that lies about 400 yards east of the summit. The slope is very steep, but it is not too difficult to walk or slide down the north side of the saddle into Alexander Basin. Try to stay on the east side of the bowl as you make your descent, and after you have lost about 800 feet you will run into the trail coming up from Alexander Basin Trailhead. From there it is an easy 1.3 miles of downhill walking to the Mill Creek Canyon Road.


The book includes more text, more photographs, and trail maps.

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If you are interested in a supplemental map of the Gobblers Knob area, we recommend:
Wasatch Front/Strawberry Valley (Trails Illustrated, map #709)

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