Difficulty: Experts Only ♦︎♦︎
Length: 15.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 5,925 feet
Dog Friendly: No
Trailhead coordinates (copy + paste): 40.4848, -111.8216
Directions: This trail starts about an hour from Park City, just before the Utah County border. Park at the coordinates where the road is closed and turns to dirt. From here, you will need to walk about a mile down the road to reach the trailhead, which starts behind the bathrooms. Stay on the main trail following signs for Jacob's Ladder along the way. Note: dogs are not allowed on this trail (yes, those doggy bags provided at the trailhead are for you).
The journey to this 11,260-foot summit is a tough one, but the incredible views along the trail and feeling of achievement that washes over you at the top make it worth the nearly 6,000-foot climb. The most strenuous trail in this guide, Jacob's Ladder to Lone Peak is not a typical day hike. Hikers should start by 5 AM to avoid the worst of the heat that beats down on the exposed trail, and carry a gallon of water at minimum, as there are no reliable sources along the way. The path starts out dry and desert-like, passing Lone Rock before entering a long and relentlessly steep, dusty section lined with scrubby trees (this is Jacob's Ladder—horror movie and bridge to Heaven are both apt comparisons). This climb feels endless, but is much easier to conquer during the cooler pre-dawn hours. Once you reach the ridge above, the hardest part is behind you, save for the return trip down Jacob's Ladder. From here, the trail flattens out for a while and enjoys wonderful views over the valley below as it makes its way towards jagged Lone Peak in the distance (highest peak in the sixth photo below).
After a few easy miles at this elevation, the trail opens up into a large basin. The path can be difficult to follow at this point, so keep a close eye out for cairns. Don't worry if you feel a bit lost, just keep heading left—you are aiming for the Northwest corner of the basin. As you get closer, the rocky chute that you will use to climb up onto the ridge will come into clear view. The trail on top of the ridge quickly turns into a scramble (second to last photo below). There are a few no-fall zones here that may unsettle the height-averse, but the large granite boulders are sturdy and easy to hold on to as you make your way to the summit. The view from the top is unbelievable. With good eyesight you may even be able to see your car miles away and thousands of feet below. Spend some time reveling in your accomplishment before making the journey back down (which takes almost as long as the trek up), and then going home to lay down for the rest of the day.