Cherry- A great first hike-and-fly
Cherry is an excellent hike-and-fly for paraglider pilots and speedflyers alike. It is relatively low elevation for the Wasatch, which means favorable wind conditions occur more often than at the high peaks. It is also a fairly straightforward hike on a well established hiking trail. The hike is short enough and the flight is long enough that it gets the juices going before work in a most delightful way.
This site is most often flown by new and experienced hike-and-fly pilots, both on speed wings and paragliders.
The Hike: Getting to launch involves a hike. The easiest hike is to park at the Orson-Smith trailhead, then follow trail signs for the Cherry Canyon logging trail. The trail is well traveled. It gains approximately 2500 vertical feet (760 meters) in 2.5 miles (4km). There are many points along the trail that look inviting to launch. It is possible to do so, but results in a shorter flight.
Launch: There are two main directions to launch Cherry, both at approximately 7200′ MSL. North is one of the post popular options, and west is another option. The north launch is slightly steeper. Both launches are moderately steep, covered in desert grass. Multiple pilots can set up at once and launch one-after another here.
Landing zones: The flight is one of the most simple hike and fly’s in the Wasatch. The terrain falls away at a very consistent angle for almost the entire way. If planning to land back at the Orson-Smith trailhead, fly out and enjoy the view of Salt Lake Valley. The Orson-Smith trailhead is highly visible from the air. If a bail-out is necessary, there are ample side-hill opportunities to land if necessary, and a reserve ride would likely end in grass or scrub oak. People most often fly this site with a north wind. Some people choose to fly this site with end-of day gentle thermals in the early evening. With the north breeze and a light thermal, some people fly to the North Side flight park.
Landing is most often done on the dirt road that runs north to south from the Orson-Smith parking lot. The road slopes downhill to the north. Newer pilots often over-shoot their intended point of landing, and this can be detrimental if the gate is closed or there is foot traffic coming up the road. This site is most often flown with a north wind, so a downhill, upwind landing is often pretty soft. There is a single tree that barely overhangs the road that has caught more than one wing.
Vertical difference: From launch to the Orson-Smith trailhead is approximately 2500 vertical feet (760m). From the top of Steep Mountain to the parking lot is 960 vertical feet (290m)
Shuttle services: There is no mechanical assistance for shuttles on Cherry
Typical weather: Cherry is typically flown with clear skies and a north flow down the valley at the beginning or the end of the day. The ideal forecast is north-northwest 8-12mph from NOAA. Winds aloft should read less than 10 knots at 9000 feet. Links to these resources can be found on the Salt Lake Weather Resources page.
Airspace Considerations: Other paraglider and speedflying pilots are likely to be flying in the vicinity. If trying to fly to the North Side, small airplane traffic frequents the gap between Steep Mountain and Lone Peak.
Property type: Draper City Park and National Forest.
Rainy Day Activities: Salt Lake City is home to a few wonderful museums and cultural experiences. The Natural History Museum of Utah, Alf Engen Ski Museum, Clark Planetarium, and Utah Museum of Fine Art are all worth a visit. Temple Square is the center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and has free tours of the Tabernacle and other buildings. If the forecast is unflyable for a few days, a trip to some of Utah’s national and state parks might be worth the drive.