The Bear River Range, located near Logan in Northern Utah, holds some of the best backcountry skiing in the state. Touring potential is massive among these peaks, which can easily be accessed from town, or along Highway 89 as it winds up through Logan Canyon. Temperatures are generally colder here than the rest of Utah, which also means the snow is light, dry, and often deep. Plus, an excellent yurt system allows for overnight stays. So here are my 5 favorite backcountry ski routes in the Bear River Range.
Millville Peak is located at the head of Providence Canyon just south of Logan. The area is popular with snowmobilers, and riding a sled to the base of the peak is a great way to cut off a long approach through an old quarry mid-way up the canyon (though it is still doable for a day tour if you don’t own a snowmobile.) The mountain’s north face is where you’ll find the best skiing, as both glades and open shots fall 1,000 vertical feet from the summit to the canyon floor. It’s an ideal place to make laps, while using the summit ridge as an ascent route. Even more north-facing runs are found west of the summit that fall to the bottom of Providence Canyon.
To ski Millville Peak, drive from the town of Providence up Canyon Road into Providence Canyon. Go as far as the snow-covered road will allow (there are several pullouts for parking) and skin up the remainder of the canyon to Millville Peak.
Some of the best skiing in the Bear Rivers is right in Logan’s backyard. Logan Peak is accessed by a trailhead that begins on the edge of town. The summit elevation is at 9,710 feet, making it the tallest mountain south of Logan Canyon in the range. A nearly five-mile approach through Dry Canyon entertains with a low-grade skin up beautiful scenery. From the top, descent options include perfectly-spaced pine glades or open meadows on Logan Peak’s west side that fall back down into Dry Canyon, or gladed, north-facing trees and avalanche paths. Both offer extremely fun skiing and snowboarding when the snow is soft and deep.
To ski Logan Peak, locate the entrance to Dry Canyon at the end of Mountain Road in Logan at the Devere & Velda Harris Nature Park & Preserve. Skin up Dry Canyon until you reach Logan Peak.
WOOD CAMP CIRQUE
Wood Camp Cirque, located in Logan Canyon, is a huge area that is lousy with skiable lines. Bowls and steep ridges are practically empty in the winter, except for backcountry skiers and snowboarders in search of powder and spring corn. The skiable area here is massive. The approach can feel long and tricky if you choose to ascend the steep ridge that splits Wood Camp Hollow in two (limestone cliffs make things interesting here) but the skinning effort pays off as soon as you make big turns on open, south-facing headwalls below Point 9065, or slalom through north-facing trees south of Point 8571. But be careful, as these wide open bowls are incredibly life threatening during days of high-avalanche danger.
To ski Wood Camp Cirque, drive up Logan Canyon to the Wood Camp campground. Skin up the drainage, and trend left (west) into Wood Camp Cirque.
STEAM MILL PEAK
Steam Mill Peak is the highest mountain in Hell’s Kitchen Canyon, a side-drainage in upper Logan Canyon. A long but mellow approach from a large parking area leads to remote, snowmobile-free ski runs. The area is perfect for an overnight stay as the Steam Mill Yurt is conveniently located in a spot where you can spend a weekend tracking every open face on every aspect. Hells Kitchen Canyon in general is an ideal place for every ability from beginner to expert, as terrain options range from low-angle aspen trees, to moderate bowls on broad, mountain shoulders, and even gnarly, cliff-strewn chutes below the canyon’s highest points. But Steam Mill Peak herself has perhaps the best ski lines, like a descent off the east shoulder, or by linking moderate open slopes between trees on the mountain’s northeast face.
To ski Steam Mill Peak, drive up Logan Canyon to Franklin Basin Road. Park here and skin up the road to the mouth of Hells Kitchen Canyon. Turn left and continue up into the drainage. Steam Mill Peak is on the southwest end of the canyon.
GARDEN CITY BOWLS
The Garden City Bowls are among the best places to ski powder in Logan Canyon. These east-facing meadows are also the easiest to get to. They feature a mostly low-angle pitch, and excellent views of Swan Peak and (on a clear day) Bear Lake in the distance. While winter is the best time to visit, the grassy slopes of the Garden City Bowls have few rocks which make the area perfect for scoring some early-season turns when the rest of the northern mountains are bare.
To ski the Garden City Bowls, drive up Logan Canyon all the way to the top. Just before the highway descends down to Bear Lake, park at a pullout near the UDOT plow sheds. From here, skin up Swan Flat Road, then up onto the ridge to your right. The Garden City Bowls are on the east side of this ridge.
For detailed information including driving directions, specific route-finding info, maps, photos and more, purchase my new book, Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes: Utah