A climb for all seasons

Looking down off the summit of Squaw Peak in winter. Photo by Tina Crowder

In this valley, the mere mention of the words "Squaw Peak" elicits raised eyebrows and sassy grins. It's too bad that this fantastic peak has a bad rap. It is often confused with the Squaw Peak Overlook, a parking area 2 miles north of the true summit off of the Squaw Peak Road out of Provo Canyon, also known as a place for local lovers to express their affections.

This 7.5-mile-round-trip hike is accessible year-round and requires that one be in good physical condition due to the 2,700-plus feet of elevation gain. This trail is usually snow-packed in winter, requiring only micro spikes (a mini crampon that gives one traction on snow and ice) on your boots; however, pack in the snowshoes just in case those traveling before you wimped out before the summit.

The true Squaw Peak summit is a high point rising north above the entrance into Rock Canyon and is accessed from the Rock Canyon Trailhead east of the Provo LDS Temple. This trailhead has a pavilion, restrooms, three small parking lots and is an access point for the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST).

The first part of this hike is through Rock Canyon on a paved road that turns to gravel and rock.

Depending on the season, you may enjoy the respite from the heat and the creek that trickles down the canyon. There is even a drinking fountain before the junction and another one a little further up the main trail!

In winter, this canyon never sees the sun so be prepared to hike in an icebox for the first 30 to 40 minutes. It is not uncommon to spot mountain goats on the surrounding cliffs or the locals scaling the numerous rock walls.

The trail forks off to the left at the 1.5-mile mark next to a Forest Service marker (060) and a rock to the left with the words "Squaw Peak Trail" etched in it. This section takes you up through a steep ravine for over one mile, definitely the toughest part of the trail as there is rarely a level spot to rest. In winter, plan to hike between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. for maximum sunshine.

Just when you feel like your legs are ready to give out, you will head west into a large flat meadow followed by another one a quarter mile up the trail. At this point you will be privy to a marvelous view of Mt. Timpanogos -- the spot to rest, eat and take pictures!

In June, this meadow is a sea of yellow from blossoming Mule's Ears, but in winter it can be up to 3 feet deep in snow.

As you near the summit it will get noticeably steeper, but the familiar smell of wild roses wafting from the bushes nearby will take your mind off it. Don't worry when you reach the top, the trail stays about 10 feet away from the 2,700-foot vertical drop off to the south -- not a place to bring young children unless you want to sweat bullets the entire time.

This summit affords a 360-degree view of Utah Valley and all the surrounding mountains -- a rare vantage point and one which you will want to photograph.

The rocky summit also sports a U.S. flag, geocache and is large enough for you to safely enjoy a picnic, watch the sunset, take pictures, or "make out" with your significant other -- now take that sassy grin off your face.

• Tina Crowder is an avid hiker and peak bagger and manages the Facebook pages, Hike the Wasatch and Wasatch Peak Bagger. Eric Bean is the owner of WasatchHiker.com the best local website for trails, stats, and local peaks! Find your perfect hike in the Wasatch Mountains.