Hiking in Utah: The Broad's Fork Beatdown

There are a lot of trails to check out in the Wasatch mountains. My neighbour, Ned, told me about his favourite trail named Broad’s Fork. He would go on and on about how steep it was, how gorgeous the cirque is, and local legends of Sasquatch sightings. This place sounded magical and a solid challenge. I knew I had to check it out!

The trail is located in the same parking lot as the popular Lake Blanche hike. Broad's Fork trail is harder to spot and very easy to walk by. Starting out the first thing I noticed was how steep it was, and how rarely it flattened out. I was beginning to understand why neighbor Ned called it “The Broad’s Fork Beatdown”.

Walking through the lower section I came into some large, heavy groves of pine that gave the trail an eerie vibe. The overgrowth made me feel like I was suddenly transported to the Pacific Northwest.

The stories of people claiming they have seen and heard unusual things on this trail were dancing around my head. Something was different about this place, not like many other treks I have done in Utah. 

After passing a long, flat waterfall with a small bridge I hit the first of the lower meadows. The timing was perfect for the wildflowers. Large yellow Arrowleaf Balsamroot with red Indian Paintbrush began popping up all over the place. 

Hummingbirds were buzzing overhead and the sun was shining. I had lots of energy and I was still a little below 8,000 feet. The long, flat meadow was a welcome relief from the rest of the trail, but not too much further the aspen groves began and the incline returned with a vengeance. 

This hike makes you pay the price for getting to see such a beautiful place. The trail up until this point is honestly nothing special visually, just a few views. This all changed quickly when I got out of the final aspen grove and the trail began to open up to the main upper meadow.

I have never seen a place in Utah that made me feel like I was in Switzerland. There was a massive cirque literally covered with wildflowers and surrounded by peaks in all directions, with a sweeping vista to the opposite side overlooking the Cottonwood Ridge.

Twin Peaks, Sunrise and Dromedary Peaks sit to the south east; a large beaver pond just below; the thickest collection of Arrowleaf I have ever seen and best of all, nobody around! The trail is tough and long which means you often get to enjoy it by yourself. It was a breathtaking scene for my first time and I came at the peak of flower season.

After picking my jaw up off the canyon floor, I hiked to the base of the three peaks to get what looked like a second cirque. Passing the beaver pond and trekking up towards the scree fields and rivers that dominated the trail from here on, each section of the trail had its own distinct feel. After reaching the cirque just below the bowl of peaks, it was getting late - a good time to turn around. Now at 9,400 ft, I was starting to feel the altitude. 

Heading back down I was beginning to feel the pitch of the trail in my legs, and I did not bring as much water as I should have. I began to head down the trail a little bit like a rag doll, the Broads Fork Beatdown was starting to take shape.

Mother nature gave me a huge wake up call just as I thought I was getting to the easy part. I almost stepped on a rattlesnake that was curled up and ready to strike, just along the edge of the trail. After nearly cramping up both my calves when I leaped backwards suddenly, I calmed myself down and got a photo of this fascinating, dangerous creature.

After getting back to the upper meadow with the beaver pond, I was witness to an incredible sunset.  I set up camp and cooked some dinner under the stars. It really capped the night and made me very happy I took the time to check out the new trail. I have many more to check out, but I think this spot will always rank as one of my favourites.

Written by Kyle Jenkins