Francis Peak Trail
Length: 6.3 miles
Time: 11.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 3613 feet
Description: This is a steep and rigorous hike up the ridge south of Shepard Canyon. It is not for the faint-hearted. The trail ends at the road leading to Francis Peak (elevation: 9515 feet) by the airport’s north approach radar facility.
Access #1 – Shepard Creek Trail Junction: From Main Street, go east on 1400 N. to North Compton Road, turn right, and then turn left onto Grand View Drive. Drive up the hill to Bella Vista Drive. Turn left. Drive 100 yards to Shepard Canyon. Park alongside the road. Walk east through the break in the chain-link fence just to the south of Shepard Creek. This is the Shepard Creek trail, section #9.3. Hike up the dirt road about 300 feet and watch for the trail to cut up the slope to the right. Continue up the trail over railroad-tie steps, then head east beyond the chain-link fence. Hike straight up the dirt road and trail on the left for 200 feet until the fork. Go north (left) at the fork. After 100 feet, keep an eye to the right of the road for a faint footpath. Follow the footpath up a steep hill where it turns to the south. Another trail, the Farmington Upper Terrace (#20.1), goes south from here to Farmington Canyon. Eastward the trail continues a couple hundred yards up a steep hill. On top of the ridge, the Francis Peak Trail section #22.3 goes up the mountain. Stay on top of the ridge as you climb. This is a wilderness trail left as natural as possible with occasional trail markers.
Access #2 – Farmington Canyon Dirt Road: The upper part of section #22.4 starts at the second switchback up Farmington Canyon Road (the first switchback is where the pavement ends). Park there and hike northward up the mountain. The trail splits halfway up to the ridge. The left branch takes you to the west part of the ridge, and the right branch takes you farther to the east. Section #22.3 begins at the ridge and follows it up. Section #22.2 is the “Elk Loop” section and parallels section #22.3. Sections #22.2 and #22.3 recombine at section #22.1, which then goes to the top of the mountain.
Access #3 – Farmington Canyon Trailhead with Parking: This section of trail is the lower part of #22.4 and starts at a wide spot in the road just after crossing the bridge. Climb straight up the mountain until you reach Access #2.
Access #4 – Francis Peak Road: Along the Francis Peak Road 0.9 mile below the radar facility on the peak.”
- This trail provides beautiful views and a true challenge to test your mettle.
- The terminus is the FAA radome on Francis Peak.
Trail Surface and Status: This is a wilderness trail. Look for the trail markers to stay on course. When ascending the ridge, stay to the center and keep climbing.