The Escalante Cross, also known as the Spanish Fork Cross and Dominguez Hill is a 37′ high cross that marks the spot where in 1776 two Franciscan monks, Francisco Dominguez and Silvestre de Escalante, first entered Utah Valley on an expedition to find a route from Santa Fe to Monterey. This cross was erected in 1976 to commemorate the anniversary. As a side note, the Spanish Fork River was named after those two Spanish explorers, which led to the name of the city.
This trail begins on the top end of the Spanish Fork Campground, just beyond the Spanish Oaks Reservoir. There is parking just above the reservoir and it’s a short walk up to the actual trail. These trails are multi-use, so be courteous to mountain bikers. This trail begins along the Hidden Oaks trail. Shortly into the trail, signs direct you to head left down path down the hill. It isn’t as steep as this photo looks.
Once you get down the hill, head right to continue into the canyon along a quaint mostly shaded trail.
We saw this cute lizard near there!
When you get to a bench that is somewhat askew, that is where you will make a sharp left to head back towards the cross. There are signs to mark it as well.
This trail gradually heads uphill and you get a views of Spanish Fork. We hiked this when wildfire smoke was limiting the views. You can also look behind you to see more of the canyon.
When you get near the top of the hill, there are two paths. One goes directly up the hill and a smaller path heads along the left side of the hill. Take the left path. Can you see my kids almost around the corner? As you come around the corner you can see the cross on the neighboring hill.
This last little section down to the other hill is a little steep. It isn’t too bad, but the rocks just make it a little more slippery, so maybe grab your toddler’s hands.
From the top there are nice views all around. The smoke from forest fires in neighboring states made it so you couldn’t see Utah Lake like you normally could have.
There are a bunch of trails that lead between the cross and the reservoir and the kids begged to try one out. We tried the least steep one and it was still quite steep. I wouldn’t recommend going on those trails. It isn’t very pretty, is steep, and isn’t really that much shorter.
Stats: Distance – 1.7 miles roundtrip
Approximate hiking time – 1-2 hours
Elevation gain – 354 feet
Difficulty – Easy
Trail – well maintained trail of dirt
Bathrooms – At campground and reservoir
Seasons to hike – April-October
Permits needed – None
Pets allowed – Yes