Saturday, August 15, 2020

Ladyfinger Point

Great Salt Lake
0.5 mile round trip, 50 feet elevation gain
Difficulty: Easy
Access: Paved road to trailhead, Antelope Island State Park fee required

Ladyfinger Point is a small headland on Antelope Island, the largest island in Utah's vast Great Salt Lake. This very short hike leads to a sweeping view of the lake and is just a short drive from Ogden and the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. Come for the views of the surrounding mountains reflected on the surface of this placid lake.

I visited Ladyfinger Point with my mom on an early November morning on the last day of our Utah trip. We drove up from Salt Lake City, taking I-15 north to exit 332 and then turning left onto Antelope Drive, following it west through Syracuse and across the Antelope Island Causeway to the island. While driving the causeway, we had beautiful views of the Wasatch Range reflected in the mirror-like waters of the Great Salt Lake. Arriving on the island, we turned right at the sign for the visitor center. This road arrived at Ladyfinger Point parking lot on the right a half mile later. We parked here to do a very short hike.

Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Range from the Causeway
From the parking lot, we followed a broad gravel path along the low ridge in the middle of the point. After 150 meters, the wide trail ended and a number of social paths split off: some paths led down to the lake, while another one led along the top of the ridge to the high point. I continued a little farther along the ridge, which was quite rocky, to the highest point with views to all sides.

The Great Salt Lake spread out in almost all directions from here. The Great Salt Lake is the sixth largest lake in the United States, after the five Great Lakes; it is endorheic, a salt sink with seasonally fluctuating water levels in the heart of the Great Basin. Those fluctuating water levels were on display during our visit: in autumn, the water level had receded far from the lakeshore, leaving a salt flat between the edge of the point and the water line. The Great Salt Lake is itself a remnant of the ancient Lake Bonneville, which during wetter times filled a vast stretch of the Great Basin stretching from the current location of the Great Salt Lake out to the Bonneville Salt Flats to the west.

Great Salt Lake and Egg Island
To the north was Promontory Point, a mountainous peninsula extending into the lake, where Leland Stanford hammered in a golden spike in 1869 to mark the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. To the south, the low hills of Antelope Island rose up to high Frary Peak, a wilderness destination in the heart of this enormous island. A distant set of peaks to the west was actually Stansbury Island, while the Wasatch Range formed a mountain wall to the west. Egg Island was slightly offshore, a bird nesting site that was connected with Ladyfinger Point during this low water period.

There was a low layer of smog over the lake and at the foot of the mountains in all directions. The Salt Lake City area has recently become known for remarkably bad air quality in winter, when inversion layers trap air pollutants in the basin around the city.

Looking north to Promontory Point
This is a short jaunt- not really much of a hike- but it's a nice spot to visit if you're on Antelope Island, which itself is a good destination for exploring the Great Salt Lake. 

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