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Kessler Peak Trail

HARD 119 reviews

Kessler Peak Trail is a 4.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Salt Lake City, Utah that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October.

Distance: 4.4 miles Elevation Gain: 2,874 feet Route Type: Out & Back


nature trips


bird watching




wild flowers



over grown



no dogs

The road to the trailhead closes seasonally, typically in November. There is another parking area near the turnoff on Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, that often remains accessible later in the season. Parking here will add about 1 mile to your trip each way.

1 day ago

A little overgrown at the bottom but trail is in great overall shape. Trekking poles would have been a solid idea.

over grown
9 days ago

Steep trail that oddly seems steeper on the walk down; recommend shoes with good ankle support for the descent. Lower sections have slight overgrowth over good quality packed-earth with some deadfall. The last mile is characterized by some patches ofd loose earth and rocks up to football-sized, becoming persistent near the summit. A short section of class II scrambling is optional in the final 50m to the summit. Trail was mostly shaded from 1530 - 2000; insects and mosquitos were not a factor.

10 days ago

This trail is longer than 4.4mi. We started from the upper parking lot that is shared with Donut Falls and had to stop before reaching the highest peak due to a time restriction and had already reached 2.8 mi. I forgot to turn off the recording when I got in the car because we were in a rush so my total mileage isn’t accurate. I would guess the distance from car to peak and back would be around 6.0-6.1 miles. It’s a steep and steady incline the whole way. Have plenty of water and snacks at the ready!

22 days ago

This hike is not for everyone. It is very strenuous at times, but the views are pretty awesome along the way. It was not the most spectacular hike, but if you love a good up hill challenge it's well worth it.

27 days ago

Giggled at the writeup below with the emphatic language about the steepness of this hike. Yes, it is steep. No joke. Your legs will tell you so. And you will believe them. The trail is pretty easy to follow. Some deadfall on trail. One 6ft long snow patch. Summit is very nice and is worth the effort.

1 month ago

Beautiful views from the top of Kessler Peak of all the other peaks in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. Steep hike but good trail. Having hiking poles is a good idea for hiking to ensure you don't slip or slide down the steep trail.

3 months ago

Mother of god prepare your muscles and your lungs and your blood sugar. This is steep AF. Cool, exposed views at the top to explore but damn

9 months ago

I didn’t find the views really worth the effort on this one. It’s a short punishing hike for sure.

9 months ago

Such a stunning view. Well worth it, very steep. Add 2+ miles since the road is closed and you have to walk to the donut falls parking lot. Quite a bit of snow for the second half!

11 months ago

We were looking for a short hike that was challenging, and we definitely got it with this one. The hike is pretty much a climb. No scrambling, you’re just constantly going up. The view at the top is amazing, and you can even see Twin Peaks from there. Fitbit tracked 7 miles round trip, so the mileage on the app is misleading. Took us 4 1/2 hours total, including the 30 minutes we spent at the top.

11 months ago

The trail is steep most of the way. The overgrowth is mostly after the turnoff by the cairns. Overall a very good trail up towards the top with a great 360 view. Mostly shaded.

11 months ago

Pretty hike (really a CLIMB!) with shade and lush foliage to the top. It’s a beast though, all the way up and down. Loose rocks and dirt, we slid a couple times so be careful. Very pretty at summit! Apple Watch clocked nearly 7 miles round trip and 4,500 foot elevation gain!! So, much longer than the app says. Took us 4 hours because you have to be very careful going down. When you cross bridge over creek, walk west behind the trail sign then left on service road till you see cairn on right, maybe 200 yards, then go up!

Friday, August 17, 2018

So lovely. Challenging!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Standing on the peak as I type. Going down may be a bit treacherous. That was the steepest 2 miles I have ever hiked up.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Awesome hike; great views at the top and well worth the steep elevation gain. Hiked up and ran down from the First parking lot: 2:39

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A relentlessly steep hike, and once at the top, the smoke created a haze that made it hard to enjoy the view. Nevertheless, it's a great hike and an even better workout. I took 3 liters of water and ran out by the time I was at the bottom.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Steep in sections, but nothing too technical. You aren't likely to see anyone else once you split off from the Donut Falls trail. The views are great, I recommend it!

Sunday, August 05, 2018

I’m officially addicted ... 7 peaks in 7 weeks ... Mt. Kessler was a “shorter” one but gains elevation RAPIDLY ... Watch for the Cairn on the right when you are on the Service Road or you’ll think you are on the right path but are actually on private property ...

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The trail is a tad overgrown at the beginning, but nothing too bad. This hike is decently well shaded for the first 2/3 of the trail as well. As the other reviewers stated, it is steep, but has an amazing view from the top and is great for getting away (only saw 1 other person).

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Kessler Peak was definitely a hike to remember. Probably one of the more difficult hikes I’ve done in Utah. Glad we went in the early morning because by the time we were coming down, the sun was shining quite a bit. Great views from the top!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Steep but well worth it. Didn’t see a soul the entire hike after the turn off, so would recommend a hiking buddy and good hiking shoes. There’s a lot of loose dirt and rocks towards the top near some drop-offs.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Great hike.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Trail is beautiful right now. Snow starts to pop up intermittently around the halfway point but it isn't too bad. There's a decent stretch that crampons would've been helpful for, but for the most part a pair of good grip-y shoes will be fine. Super steep, though. Pretty much the entire way up. Zero signage though, so double check on the map here to make sure you're staying on track.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

The trail was steep, muddy and a tad snowy, with not much of a view. However, the view at the top is absolutely bonkers.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Steep and slippery but fantastic views. Some snow and mud. Even with a hiking pole I slipped several times. Better than neffs for city views.

Monday, September 25, 2017

great steep hike.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Here are some more specific directions: Park at donut falls parking lot and begin walking the donut falls trail as if that's where you are headed. Continue along the trail until you cross the creek over the bridge. At this point you will be at a fork in the trail. There will be a trail sign for donut falls pointing to the left as you face it. Walk west, past and behind this trail marker for donut falls. You will immediately hit a service trail, it is wide and can't be missed. Turn left, head up the trail approximately 250 yds. You will see a trail on your right headed up the Mtn. It may be very overgrown in the spring. This is the trail to Kesslers peak. And it's hard as hell. Very steep throughout. But great views at the top.

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