“Ogden's [very good] version of the Monarch Crest.”
— Brian Smith
If you're in the vicinity of Ogden and like big, technical rides with massive exposure and staggering vistas, this one is not to be missed! The route is pretty simple: eight miles, 3,800' of climbing to a rugged and rocky peak followed by an uninterrupted eight-mile, 3,800' descent.
Along the way, you'll experience a variety of trail conditions, ecosystems, and technical difficulties. With the exception of the last ~ half-mile push to the summit of Ben Lomond, most everything is rideable by an advanced rider and attempted or walked by an intermediate rider.
Need to Know
It's worth taking a couple of laps around the parking lot before starting this ride - it's straight into steep climbing that doesn't end for eight miles...
From Ogden or Liberty, drive to the trailhead at the pass along North Ogden Canyon Rd. Look for an entrance to the Skyline Trail
on the north side of the road (across the street).
Hopefully, you're warmed up at this point because this is the start of the one and only climb of the ride. Don't let the severely rutted, pedal-grabbing nature of the beginning of the trail scare you off, things get much better.. trust me!! The first mile or so of trail travels through lush green forest and can be trying due to the ruts. Note the blind corners and remember to be careful here on your way down.
Eventually, you'll emerge from the thicket and onto rocky, bench-cut trail. With the exception of some tight switchbacks that feature rocky step-up moves, the trail is a pretty moderate but steady grind at this point. The farther you pedal, the more the views continue to open up. After numerous switchbacks, you'll emerge onto a prominent ridge with views back toward Ogden as well as into the Wasatch.
After climbing the ridge slightly farther, the grade slackens and the trail begins contouring along the east-facing side of the range. Beautiful views continually trade back and forth with incredibly thick tunnels of vegetation that are likely only handlebar thick. Eventually, the trail leads into a typical subalpine coniferous forest which, depending on the time of year, can feature some amazing loamy, root-strewn dirt! This part is VERY fun on the way down!!
Sometime around mile 4.5, the trail transitions to the west-facing aspect of the ridge. This is when the views and exposure get out of control! Roll along fairly smooth trail that's cut into a very steep mountainside and try not to let the views distract you too much. From here, one can see south to SLC, west across the Great Salt Lake and Bonneville Salt Flats and North into Idaho. Oh, and if you're hitting this in spring/summer, expect an abundance of incredible wildflowers! You'll probably find yourself stopping for photos regularly here. Enjoy the easier-going nature of the trail here because it's about to get a LOT steeper and more difficult.
You see that rocky, pointy peak to the northwest? That's where you're headed.. to the top!
Once the trail steepens again, it doesn't really let up. Pedal up the steep, rocky trail as it switchbacks its wat toward the summit of Ben Lomond. The moves through each switchback seem to get more and more difficult as you go. Most are 100% rideable by an advanced rider, but some may need to be walked or attempted multiple times. Eventually, depending on you superhero levels, you'll reach a point at which you must dismount and push your bike up the steep, eroded trail.
At this point, you have a decision to make: either turn around now and begin the ridiculously awesome descent (but miss the ridiculously awesome views), or push on to the summit. I strongly suggest pushing on if you have the time and energy - the views are truly worth it. Plus, if you like super technical descending, the ride down is hair-raising!!
If you make it to the summit, take some time to enjoy the views, sign the register and prepare yourself for some of the best descending you'll likely do, or have done, in some time. You experienced it all at slow speed on the way up, now get ready to tear back down!