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North Ogden Pass

Spectacular alpine scenes, that are set in an urban environment, just aren't tourist attractions. People there just go about their business as usual. There are no tourist traps, that families flock to in their SUVs ( or formerly station wagons with a picture of wood on the side ). You don't find go-cart races, amusement parks or T shirt vendors, pony rides or ATV rentals. Instead people push their shopping carts across mile long parking lots into Wal-Marts, fill up their cars or look for missionary suit sales ( second picture ) without ever taking notice of the 5000ft wall of mountains, that blind the eyes upon exiting Wal-Mart. This gives the area an attractive realness that cannot be achieved by a tourist resort. North Ogden Pass leads out of this suburban area over a steep crest in the Wasatch Range. Considering its urban character, traffic conditions are pretty good.

click on profile for more detail
1.(4320ft,mile00) START-END NORTH: Five Points, North Ogden: jct: US89 - Washington Ave.
2.(4690ft,mile04) route makes 90 degree right turn
3.(6220ft,mile08) TOP: North Ogden Pass
4.(5110ft,mile11) Liberty
5.(4950ft,mile15) Eden. Profile stays right, along west side of Pineview Reservoir
6.(4910ft,mile19) profile continues right down Ogden Canyon
7.(4420ft,mile25) junction with Ogden River Parkway Trail
8.(4310ft,mile27) START-END SOUTH: jct Ogden River Trail - Washington Ave.


Indian Trails Monument on North
                          Ogden PassFrom North. There are many ways to ride up onto the suburban benches. Taking the main street, here called Washington Street, heads straight for Willard Peak. When it gets to the terraces deposited by the ancestral Lake Bonneville, the route makes a 90 degree turn to the right. Suburbia ends abruptly and Willard Peak already seems to have shrunk from this perspective. Traffic is generally much less than the population density would lead to suspect and there is a good shoulder on the steeply climbing road. The road does not switch back but seems to converge with power lines over the pass. When they seem to do it a second time, it actually happens. Meanwhile the ocean of houses in front of the inland salty sea has disappeared behind trees. At the top the Skyline Trail crosses the road and an Indian Trails Monument illustrates five Indian trails in the area, one of them leading over this pass.

looking up Washington
                        Ave, start of a ride up North Ogden Pass
looking north along Washington Ave, the start of a ride up North Ogden Pass

Down South. (described downward) The valley fault block on the eastern side sits much higher, and so the descent goes even faster. The shoulder disappears and yacht-pulling traffic around Pineview Reservoir picks up. Funny how these things always happen together. There are two ways to get around the lake. The profile follows the shorter route to the west of the reservoir.

The best way to continue from here on a bicycle would be to take the paved road to Mountain Green and Weber Canyon. But instead the profile seeks the shortest way back down and that is Ogden Canyon. Signs discourage cycling and walking in Ogden Canyon because of a narrow shoulder, but they do not prohibit it. The shoulder is variable from small to nonexistent and limited on the right by a construction barricade that is supposed to make falling off the embankment into the river less likely. I rode the route during a Sunday mid afternoon when all the boaters were still boating or pulling their boats around the reservoir and had no problems. But I can easily imagine more difficult traffic conditions.

The bottom most section is a special treat, if you feel about bike paths the same way as I do. What looks like a turnoff to a business ( a restaurant called Rainbow Garage or something weird like that ) at the exit of the canyon, is really the beginning of the Ogden City River Parkway trail. It winds through parks, Cottonwood groves, around tree trunks and over bridges to connect with the Centennial Trail system. Two photos are included in the picture page.


Dayrides. A loop ride starting in North Ogden, over this pass, through Eden, and Ogden Canyon back to the starting point measured 58 miles with 2600ft of climbing in 4:4 hours. This also includes many extra miles on the Ogden River Parkway trail system and an out and back run to Huntsville (m3:7.06.09).


The Fur Trapper Period: An Indian trail crossed North Ogden Pass, and another one ascended Ogden Canyon since before it was popular to keep track of these things. North Ogden Pass was first discovered by an Anglo American from the east side. Cache Valley had been a favorite hunting ground of early trappers. In 1825 Peter Skene Ogden led a party out of Cache Valley over the unnamed divide south of Paradise, and then crossed this pass into what is now North Ogden.

The Overland Trail: ( | Parley's Canyon s(u) > ) By 1849 exploration of the west had become official business. New Mexico was now US territory, placer gold was discovered in California, and mormon development of Utah went full speed ahead.

Howard Stansbury, of the US Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, was put in charge of mapping a supply route between South Pass and the Oregon Trail to Salt Lake City. His expedition was guided by Jim Bridger and included 18 other men, 5 wagons and 46 mules and horses.

In August 1849 Stansbury left Fort Bridger, traveled through today's Evanston area, and then crossed into the Salt Lake Valley over North Ogden Pass, using one of the Indian trails. He was the first to officialy notice the terrace formations that had to be left by a large ancient sea, which we now call Lake Bonneville. But the route, which he eventually recommended as a supply route for Salt Lake, took quite a different path.

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