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Length: 3.2 miles               Time: 5 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous           Elevation Gain:  ~1500 feet
12.1 Farmington Spine Trail - Upper Canyon Section

Description: This is a beautiful hiking trail through several forests. If you have a day, you can hike to the top of the mountain. These sections of trail start at Hornet Creek, which is a third of a mile up Steed Canyon. Section #17.4 continues past a large, white rock outcropping called Sentinel Rock, located just east of Hornet Creek. Keep this rock to your right until you can see all of Steed Canyon. Ascend the ridge with Steed Canyon to your right until the trail seems to end on a promontory. Turn left, go 50 feet, and you will see the start of the “subway” (POI #26). The trail follows the subway, a natural depression, up the ridge toward the cliffs. There are mountain mahogany trees along the subway and wildflowers in the spring. Enjoy the campsite on the mountainside in a fairly level forest at the base of the majestic cliffs. Section #17.3 offers a shorter way to reach the cliffs by going up the north side.

From the forest in front of the cliffs, section #17.2 continues up the mountain to the southeast and traverses four draws. Ascend to the left of a long area of “slickrock” that features Trogdor, the “Gnome King,” at its top (POI #28). In good weather, you can actually climb on the slickrock if you are careful. Climb up the ridge trail where you then cross a heavily vegetated area and a small meadow formed by an old landslide (POI #29). Climb the next part of the mountain to a forest of tall aspen trees. Turn west and walk down a gentle slope to the top of the cliffs (POI #27). A fantastic view awaits you. The final climb to the mountaintop is another two miles from the top of the cliffs. Stay on top of the ridge as you climb and look for markers.

Access Locations: Access this trail from the Steed Creek Trail section #17.5.

  • A mountain mahogany grove follows you part way up the mountain.
  • Beautiful wildflowers are a spring treat on this trail.
  • The “subway bench” is a large rock at the start of the “subway” where you can sit in mahogany shade and see the southern part of Farmington.
  • See the remnants of an ancient landslide, “Landslide Meadow” (POI #29).
  • Stand on top of the Farmington Cliffs for a fantastic view and bragging rights (POI #27). Be careful … the first step is a beaut!
  • A mountainside forest campsite offers a pleasant place to rest.
Trail Surface and Status: This is a wilderness trail left as natural as possible with some steep sections.