Hiking Sunset Peak in Utah at Sunset

Ahh, a yearly hike for me, it seems. Sunset Peak is one of those hikes I return to year after year, season after season. It holds one of my favorite views in the Wasatch and was one of the first major summits I did here as well. However, I had never hiked this trail at sunset, so I wanted to do that at least once, just to see what the sunset would look like. It paid off, and I was left rather speechless! I’ve written about this hike before, so if you want to see the beta, click here! If you’ve read that before, keep on reading. These pictures are going to get prettier and prettier!

Timpanogos stands tall in the background. This is one of my favorite views of the mountain!
Part of the summit. I shared it for a brief while with three women who were celebrating a birthday with charcuterie!
The golden light in the mountains was a total treat to see. I love it!

Generally speaking, I think I prefer dawn patrols instead of night descents. There’s something about starting in the dark and gradually seeing where you’ll be heading, then getting that first morning light to touch your face. It just feels good! You’re up before everyone else, you’ve made the effort to get to your destination in a timely manner, and you’ve made it! However, a lot of other people know that secret as well…which makes dawn patrols a little more crowded than night descents. Most people like to be off a peak by sunset or just after sunset. And, you likely won’t have any people coming up the trail as you descend, so again, it feels a little different. You feel a little more alone, and as the night descends upon you, the trail gets a little spooky.

It was kinda cool, in all honesty.

Golden light hits the beautiful pines on the summit.
Lake Mary sits in the shadow of Mt. Tuscarora.
Another look at Lake Mary. It’s such a beautiful lake!

I sat up here, eating some snacks and taking in the view. I figured I would be the last one up here since the reason I was here was for sunset, and sure enough, the group of women descended a little bit after. Then, I was all alone on the summit, standing, taking in the view, and capturing photos. I can’t think of a recent time when I sat at the end of a hike with no time frame in mind to get down. Usually, I have some sort of deadline I want to hit, somewhere I need to be, or don’t want to descend in pitch-black conditions! This time, I came prepared. I brought extra top and bottom layers, a headlamp, and a light winter hat, even though it was the end of July. Summits can get windy, and this was no exception.

The shadow of the mountains. I’ve never gotten a shot quite like this before!
The silhouette of Timpanogos amid a beautiful blue sky.
Looking northeast. Lake Mary sits in the foreground.

After sitting up here for some time, I decided to descend the harder part of the trail before all the light was gone. I packed up and started down the same route I ascended. The trail looks a lot different in low light and at night, and it was cool to see this one for the first time through new eyes. I walked down past Lake Catherine where a few backpackers had set up their tents continuing on towards Lake Martha. Along the way, I was startled by a rather large deer standing right on the trail! This would begin a trend for the entire descent – I saw probably another eight or nine deer either on the trail or right next to the trail. After I saw the first few, I picked up some small rocks and would throw them ahead on the trail in the hopes that it would scare off some deer! It worked a few times, but in areas where there are lots of natural rockfalls, little rocks won’t scare off many animals.

The setting sun.

I finally got back to the car after a rather spooky descent, but it was so worth it in my mind. These are some of my favorite photos I’ve ever gotten, especially on a hike! It was quite a treat to sit atop a mountain, alone, take in the sunset, snap some photos, and have a quiet, cold, dark descent back to my car.

And of course, getting to sleep in my own bed at night was pretty awesome.

Parting shot:

One last shot of the setting sun.

Next blog: More Utah. Heading east to the Uintas!


One thought on “Hiking Sunset Peak in Utah at Sunset

  1. I highly agree with you on dawn patrols! Besides making for a beautiful view of the sunrise on the way up, it’s also a LOT cooler than starting, say, at mid-day or afternoon, which can get really hot. The views of Sunset Peak are godly, and your photos really capture the gorgeous waves of the peaks, as well as their shadows!


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