Hike South Thunder Mountain via Bell Canyon

Rate this Adventure 13 miles 6300 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Fin Keleher

Mountaineering experience is highly recommended on this adventure. It is freaking brutally steep at times, beware.You'll be rewarded with amazing views of every single 11,000 foot peak in the Wasatch Range. You'll also hike by waterfalls, beautiful pine forests, granite walls, boulder fields, meadows, and great wildlife.

Starting at the Bell's Canyon trailhead, the trail follows a river for most of the way, passing two reservoirs and two waterfalls. This trail is intermediate, depending on your destination. The first and most commonly visited section of the trail is the first reservoir. An easy hike of less than one mile provides a great opportunity for a family outing or hike with friends.

If you are interested in going further, about two miles up is the first waterfall. This final destination provides a great intermediate level hike that can be completed in around two and a half hours. A spectacular waterfall awaits those who prefer a longer hike than that of the first reservoir but don't want to overwork themselves.

If you continue past the second waterfall you will walk alongside massive granite pillars and cliff faces leading further up the canyon. Continuing along this route eventually gets you to the second reservoir, after about another two miles. The reservoir is a great place to find solitude away from the crowds and has some pretty great fishing qualities too.

If this still doesn't quench your thirst for adventure, you can continue further to the east and gain a ridge line that provides views of the Thunder Bowl. From here, there is no trail and some serious boulder hopping and route-finding is required. From the ridge line to the east of the Upper Reservoir, one can see North Thunder Mountain to the north east, and South Thunder Mountain to the south. If you drop into the Thunder Bowl and head east, you can easily scramble up some broken cliff bands and make it to the summit of North Thunder mountain at 11, 115 feet.

If this doesn't suite your taste, you can instead remain on the ridge line to the east of the Upper Reservoir and follow it south. Some class 3 terrain and boulder hopping will eventually take you to South Thunder Mountain. If you are even more ambitious, you can complete both peaks by traversing the Thunder Ridge between the two. WARNING: this ridge line is upper class 4 and lower class 5 terrain. It is not suggested for inexperienced mountaineers.

Some other trail options involving North and South Thunder Mountain include the Beatout (Starting at Red Pine and summiting Pfeifferhorn, then following Pfeifferhorn's west ridge to South Thunder, then following the Thunder Ridge to North Thunder, then dropping down into the Thunder Bowl and out Bell's Canyon) and the Hematoma Quad (Summiting North Thunder from Bell's Canyon, then South Thunder, then Bighorn Peak, and then approaching from the south east ridge of Lone Peak and summiting it, then descending through Jacob's ladder). From the tops of North and South Thunder, you can observe the backside of Lone Peak up-close, and the rest of the 11,000 foot peaks in the Wasatch Range as well.

I have completed each 11,000 foot peak in the Wasatch, and I have to say that I think South Thunder provides the best view out of all of them. The hike to South Thunder is 13 miles, and adding North Thunder increases it to 14. However, do not think that these miles are similar to those of Timpanogos; they are brutal, steep miles that may be harder than expected. Keep in mind that the elevation gain from Bell's Canyon to South Thunder is more than 6,000 feet.

For camping, anywhere after about a mile into the hike, or once you reach Lone Peak Wilderness, is acceptable for camping and there are plenty of great spots. Just make sure that you are an acceptable distance from any trails or water sources. Please don't leave any trash and make sure not to build any fire pits if you can avoid doing so, Thank You.

Read More

Tags

Photography
Snowshoeing
Hiking
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Stay Nearby

Sandy, Utah

Brand New Skier’s Retreat W/ Hot Tub Near Alta!

• TurnKey photo-verifies this home is professionally cleaned with products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. •Nestled near Little Cottonwood Canyon, this brand-new 4BR/4.5BA home is the...

From $449/night

Sandy, Utah

Mountain View Ski Getaway With Private Hot Tub

• TurnKey photo-verifies this home is professionally cleaned with products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. •Your 4BR/3BA ski retreat is ideally located in the Salt Lake valley, surrou...

From $98/night

Cottonwood Heights, Utah

Luxury Home With Epic Views, Hot Tub & Pool Table

• TurnKey photo-verifies this home is professionally cleaned with products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. •Enjoy world-class outdoor adventures in the Utah Mountains at this 5BR/3.5B...

From $200/night

Cottonwood Heights, Utah

Dogwood Day Use

Overview Dogwood Day Use Picnic Area is just 2 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon, conveniently close to Salt Lake City. Big Cottonwood Creek runs alongside the site. Visitors enjoy fishing, hiking and...

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike and Fish Upper Bell Canyon Reservoir

    This is one of my favorite spots in the state of Utah! It is completely secluded high up on the Wasatch front. You can hike here for a nice relaxing day, an overnight camping trip, or do a little fly fishing and hook some fun little brooke and cut...

    9 miles 4182 ft gain

  • Hike to Bell Canyon's Waterfall

    If you keep a steady pace, the hike takes about an hour each way, so allow time when trying to catch the sunset. The hike is pretty easy until right before you reach the falls, where there is a big, steep hill you have to climb.From the parking lo...

    4 miles 1500 ft gain

  • Singletrack on the Little Cottonwood Creek Trail

    The first portion of the trail is smooth, hard-pack dirt with a gentle slope. After a mile, the slope increases. Rocky sections will test your bike handling skills. ("Endos" are common on this trail during the ride back.) Most of the year, you'll ...

    7 miles 1300 ft gain

  • Backpack Lone Peak via the Cherry Creek Logging Trail

    You start this trail at the Orson Smith Park in Draper.  It joins with the Bonneville Shoreline Trail briefly before turning off onto the cherry creek logging trail.  It switchbacks for a long ways exposed on towards the valley.  It is fairly stee...

    15.8 miles 6683 ft gain