Driving along I-15 from Bountiful to Layton in view of the Francis Peak radar towers, you might not know about the treasure trove of trails that exist high above the valley on these mountains. Many locals have driven a car or truck on the road to the gate at the base of the big white ball housing the spinning antenna that tracks air traffic in a 200-mile radius of the peak.
There is so much more to explore off the roads that lead to Francis Peak. Climb aboard and let me take you on a ride into the mountains of Davis County.
Two major roads go up to the towers — the Farmington Canyon Road climbs up from Lagoon and the Ward Canyon Road starts at the Bountiful “B” near the Bountiful Temple. I prefer to ride the Ward Canyon Road.
Two trails leave the parking lot going north at the Bountiful “B” — the Ward Canyon Road leaves from the west side and the Old Ward Canyon Road leaves from the east side. The east side trail is a narrow, challenging and fun trail that joins the main road higher up, but today, we are going to take the west trail.
It is best to start this trail in the cool of the morning. As we climb up from the valley, the air is refreshing and the mountain scenery is so enjoyable. We like the peace and serenity of the wind in our faces as the sunlight flashes through the trees.
Soon, we pass the junction where the Old Ward Canyon trail joins back into the main road. Further up, we come to a marker for trail No. 606. This trail goes down to an old mine on Stone Creek. It is part of the Tuttle Loop Trail, but the trail as it continues past the mine is so washed out as to be impassable. The Forest Service is planning to change the route to be safer.
Passing that trail, we continue to a junction. Making a left turn, the road goes around to the west side of the mountain, where we are treated to amazing views of the valley. At the first turnout, there is a fun trail that drops down to an old picnic area. It makes a loop and comes back out on top. It is just one of the fun trails to explore on the mountain.
Further down the road, the trail turns east and passes above Farmington Lakes. The road drops down by the lakes and then continues to a junction.
A right turn takes us by the Bountiful Peak Campground and on a loop called the Farmington Flats OHV Trail. This beautiful trail crosses over to the right side of the mountain with some great views of mountains to the east.
Coming out on the Francis Peak Road, we continue up the mountain toward the radar towers. Before we get there, we take an ATV trail that cuts off to the right. We come out onto the main road at the gate to the towers. Here, the views of the valleys to the west and east are worth stopping to enjoy.
This is where most people stop. Because we are on ATVs, we continue. The trail goes under the big white ball and then through a tree-lined section. Climbing over a shoulder, we drop down through a maze of trails to the first of the Smith Creek Lakes. Stopping to enjoy the quiet ripples on the lake, it is a good place to stop for lunch.
Continuing our ride, we climb back on the trail that hugs the mountain to the west. We pass through another copse of pines and come out at the second lake. Having stopped at the first one, we pass this one, enjoying its beauty below.
The third lake is our destination and we soon find ourselves on the south side among some large boulders. This lake is deeper than the others and there is no mud on the bottom. It is a refreshing place to swim on a hot summer day.
We make it back to the “B” in the cool of the evening with a mind full of memories and a commitment to come back for another day in the Davis County Mountains. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and if you haven’t seen the Smith Creek Lakes, you are missing the best part of the OHV gem of Davis County.