Entering the Squaw Peak Overlook road from Provo Canyon is easy and offers a beautiful drive and an amazing view of Utah Valley.
Looking north from the Squaw Peak road offers a view of Mt. Timpanogos (11,752 feet).
By the end of the second week of September, the fall colors are beginning to dot the mountainsides and offer delightful scenes.
Most people don’t know the name of this massive mountain that stands strong and tall above the Utah Valley. This is Cascade Mountain (10,908 feet) and is considered one of the hardest mountains of the Wasatch front to climb. There is no easy way to the top.
Looking to the south from the Squaw Peak overlook one sees towards the Y Mountain. Squaw Peak is one of the most dominant landmarks of Provo, rising above Rock Canyon and the Provo Temple to a height of 7,877 feet.
Beautiful stands of aspen, oak, pine and birch make for beautiful settings deeper into the backside of the Y Mountain.
The basin hidden between the Y Mountain (8,522 feet) and the enormous three peaks to the east (East Provo Peak, elevation 11,044; seldom-visited Provo Peak, 11,068 feet, and recently-named Freedom Peak, elevation 10,801 feet) is stunning in its beauty. Here it is barely touched by the colors of fall.
In 1833, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote: “Go, sit upon the lofty hill, And turn your eyes around, Where waving woods and waters wild Do hymn an autumn sound.”
Many people who hike the Y Mountain (on the left) do not see it’s rugged north face. Rock Canyon is in the center and sports a nearly four-mile trail that begins just above the Provo Temple and ends at a campground here in the canyon.
Most cars can make it to this point along the Squaw Peak–Hobble Creek loop. The entire loop (if you are brave and have 4-wheel-drive) is more than 27 miles.
The poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote: “Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf How the heart feels a languid grief Laid on it for a covering, And how sleep seems a goodly thing In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?”
These Rocky Mountain Ash berries are edible but must be prepared carefully to be tasty. They are a favorite of the local black bears.
At this point (about 11 miles from the turn from Provo Canyon) a sign says the road is not suitable for passenger cars. We were not sure what that meant so we (two of our sons were with us) forged ahead in our small SUV. The colors and textures on either side of the road were delicious.
A storm started blowing in from the north and blanketed our view of Timpanogos and points further north. We were not sure what would come of this quickly developing storm.
Many of the aspen trees we saw stem from one root system. In fact, the largest living organism in the world is said to be in Utah, Pando by name (Latin for ‘I Spread’ or The Trembling Giant). It is 106 acres and is one root with identical DNA throughout.
Looking down through Slate Canyon to Springville from about 7,600 feet elevation was breathtaking. Buckley Mountain is just south of the Y Mountain and consists of two peaks, elevation 9,153 on the south and 9,502 feet on the north.
The road became very slippery and quite treacherous through the rain. The colors seemed more vibrant and beautiful freshly washed.
Robert Frost wrote: “O hushed October morning mild, Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild, Should waste them all.”
How many colors are in this picture? George Eliot said, “Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
“Beguile us in the way you know. Release one leaf at break of day; At noon release another leaf; One from our trees, one far away. Retard the sun with gentle mist; Enchant the land with amethyst. Slow, slow!” said Robert Frost.
Looking north we could see peak after peak that we had passed in our nearly 27-mile loop.
We started being pelted by hail mixed with heavy rain. One remote Alaska wilderness road had a sign that said, “Be careful what rut you get into, you’ll be in it a long time.” We experienced that once on this rugged road in the storm.
Boris Pasternak wrote: “The air is full of after-thunder freshness, And everything rejoices and revives. With the whole outburst of its purple clusters The lilac drinks the air of paradise. The gutters overflow; the change of weather Makes all you see appear alive and new. Meanwhile the shades of sky are growing lighter, Beyond the blackest cloud the height is blue.”
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers,” wrote L.M. Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables.
The final gift of our journey was not only a lovely rainbow, but Maurine said to us: “Some of the greatest things in the world are not found on paved roads.”