Hiking the Highest Peak on Antelope Island

The afternoon breeze catches your hair and sifts through the golden meadows of grasslands that surround you. There isn’t a cloud in the sky, and the blue above you seems to blend into the blue of the Great Salt Lake. Bison are scattered about, grazing the day away as their neighbor, the bighorn sheep, trots along on a faraway ridge. A strong, unidentified smell fills the air. Is that salt…or sulfur?

You’re on Antelope Island.

Hiking our way up the biggest island within the Great Salt Lake.

Hop in your car and head forty miles north of Salt Lake City and you’ll arrive in Utah’s Antelope Island State Park. Drive across the narrow causeway towards the park entrance, pay the $10 entrance fee for one vehicle, and keep going until you’re on the island. That smell punching you in the nose will be a bit overpowering at first, but you’ll get used to it the more you explore the island. There are many ways to enjoy the park, so grab your island map and take your pick!

About Antelope Island

It's always been my dream to find an arrowhead in the wild! And I found one on top of Antelope Island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake of Utah!

Antelope Island is the biggest of the ten islands that can be found within the Great Salt Lake. It got its name from early explorers of the 1800’s who found its pronghorn antelope and made one their first meal on the island. (We didn’t spot any antelope while we did our own exploring, though.) The island itself is 28,022 acres of scenic wilderness beauty.

American bison were introduced to Antelope Island in 1893 as a preservation effort, and are the most commonly seen wildlife on the island. We saw quite a few on our hike, and even ran into a bighorn sheep that didn’t stick around long enough for a photo op. There are many other animals that inhabit the island, such as the porcupine, badger, coyote, bobcat, and mule deer. Not to mention the large amount of birds and waterfowl that enjoy eating tiny brine shrimp out of the lake.

Handstands on top of Frary Peak on Antelope Island, Utah.

Island Activities

There are several easy-to-moderate backcountry trails you can hike, bike, or horseback through on the island. We decided to hike to the island’s highest point, Frary Peak. It is the most strenuous hike that exists here, and it has the absolute best views on the entire island. Standing on its peak, you will be able to see the whole island with a complete 360 perspective that you just can’t get anywhere else on Antelope Island.

Tyler begins to descend Frary's Peak as we head 3 miles back to the trailhead.

The sun setting over the Salt Lake on Antelope Island. Gorgeous view!

Additionally, you can choose to take a nice stroll along the white sand beaches or take a swim in the salty water (not sure how gross that would be though). There is nowhere for the water to escape the lake, so the minerals continue to build and remain there unless evaporated. It is three to five times saltier than our oceans and is the second saltiest body of water in the world, so you’d most definitely float.

Maybe you’d like to go camping and sleep under a serene, starry sky? How about do a bit of bird-watching or animal spotting? Take a kayak onto the lake? You might even want to check out the nearby Historic Fielding Garr Ranch. You can do your little dance now, because all of those options are available to you! Or choose from any of the peaceful trails to wander on to your heart’s content.

Summit Frary Peak

The views on Antelope Island, Utah are out of this world!

I ventured with Tyler, his older brother, and his dad up the long, winding trail to Frary Peak. Starting at the trailhead, we hiked our way across the rolling hills and craggy mountains that span the island. The hike takes roughly five hours to complete and is 6.6 miles long, out and back. We came across really smooth dirt paths as well as some pretty rocky, gravelly ones. Once we reached the summit, we had gained 2,100 feet in elevation.

We made this trek in the fall of October. I would recommend doing the same. You should really choose to do this hike in the fall or spring. Summer would be way too brutal because there is barely anything to lend you any sort of shade on the whole island. And it would be freakin’ HOT.

The trail is a steady, uphill climb with several convenient spots to sit and rest. Much of this rest will be spent sitting on some of the oldest rocks you can find in the United States. They date back 2.7 billion years, making them older than the rocks found at the base of the Grand Canyon. That’s pretty neat-o, if you ask me.

The rocks on Antelope Island, Utah are older than the rocks at the bottom of the Grand Canyon!

You’ll come across several gorgeous overlooks and reach what appears to be the rocky summit as you spot the radio tower that sits atop the island. Be sure not to take the dangerous, rocky route that has you narrowly following the tops of the mountains. Instead, you’ll take the safe route and lose some elevation before gaining it back as you reach the peak.

We did it! The views on all sides were incredible. We took several minutes to relax, refuel, and check out the fun things we discovered at the top. We found a mailbox built into a fairly-sized cairn of rocks, a geochache with some interesting (weird) and sweet items placed inside it, a notebook we decided to sign, a round stone inscribed with an eerie message, and an arrowhead! That was my favorite find. Straight up treasure in my book. I’ll be keeping that, thanks.

The geocache we found at the top of Frary's Peak, Utah was both sweet and...interesting...

Ty and I standing on the top of Antelope Island's highest peak!

We signed the notebook we found in the mailbox on Antelope Island...lol

The last two entries are our group’s…

Coming back down the mountain was equally challenging for me, mostly because hiking downhill is hard on one of my knees. It really made me think about investing in some good hiking poles for our next hike! We ended up running halfway down the switchbacks to beat the impending darkness that the evening sky began blanketing us with. I took the rest of the trail slower than the others because golden hour was just begging to be photographed. The sunset eventually caught up with me, and it was the perfect reward for completing this rigorous hike.

Dusk falls over the Great Salt Lake as we descend from the summit of Frary Peak.

What to Pack

Make sure you come prepared for this hike! We ran out of water (as usual) because we only brought 2 liters of water for both of us. Oy vey. Don’t be like us. 

Looking out to the Great Salt Lake as we hike to Frary Peak.

You’ll definitely need to bring each of these items:

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking boots
  • Bug spray
  • 3 liters of water per person
  • Energy bars / snacks
  • Small packed lunch
  • First aid kit

Three Grows at an overlook on the way to Antelope Island's Frary Peak.

These were the flowers that peppered the hillsides as we hiked Antelope Island.

Packing smart makes for a better hiking experience. So keep it light and bring everything you’ll need. You never know if your allergies will decide to cause a wild sneezing fit, triggering a nose blast every ten seconds for literally two minutes straight. Maybe think about bringing some allergy meds in that first aid kit, friend.

What a perfect day!

Have you ever been to Antelope Island? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

Keep growing!

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  • Reply
    January 26, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Hello ,

    I saw your tweet about animals and thought I will check your website. I like it!

    I love pets. I have two beautiful thai cats called Tammy(female) and Yommo(male). Yommo is 1 year older than Tommy. He acts like a bigger brother for her. 🙂
    I have even created an Instagram account for them ( https://www.instagram.com/tayo_home/ ) and probably soon they will have more followers than me (kinda funny).

    I have subscribed to your newsletter. 🙂

    Keep up the good work on your blog.


    • Reply
      Rachael Leavitt Grow
      January 26, 2018 at 7:45 pm

      Thanks Wiki! I really appreciate it. Aw they are so cute! Thanks for sharing and for subscribing. 🙂 Glad to have you as part of the community!

  • Reply
    December 10, 2017 at 2:48 am

    Your article is interesting.The hiking is quiet different from picnic its like getting tired up willingly to look for a tired day and at the time you go to bed is like what a a day i am tired but happy.Nice article.

    • Reply
      Rachael Leavitt Grow
      January 26, 2018 at 7:51 pm

      Haha I totally get that. Tired but happy is right! And that hike was definitely tiring. Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    Sherwood Rahim
    November 12, 2017 at 10:47 pm

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    • Reply
      Rachael Leavitt Grow
      November 14, 2017 at 7:02 pm

      Wow that is so incredibly kind of you to say! I appreciate it so much. I want to try to continue having good content for the world to (hopefully) be inspired by. Thanks so much for your comment.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Wow what an amazing place! Looks like such a great hike with so many fun things to do along the way! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Michelle Joy
    November 11, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    We’ve been seeing cheap flights to Salt Lake City lately so we might be heading this way soon. Looks like a great hike and love that there’s a geocache up there.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Wow, I hadn’t even heard of Antelope Island before, but it is really beautiful. I love your shot of the sunset!

  • Reply
    November 11, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    This post is fascinating! I have never thought about hiking in or around the Great Salt Lake but now, I know it is a possibility. It makes me think of the many awesome natural attractions we have in the United States. It gives me a greater desire to keep pushing towards exploration!

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