Francis Peak and its lofty twin radar domes attract the most attention on the mountain skyline visible from most of Layton City. However, it is actually Thurston Peak which is the highest point in the Layton area.
Rising almost a full vertical mile above Layton City Hall, the peak, 9,706 feet above sea level, is the tallest in Davis and Morgan counties, straddling the county line.
Thurston Peak is about 4 miles to the north of Francis Peak and directly east of Cherry Lane (about 1200 North),
Thurston Peak is almost 200 feet higher than Francis Peak. Thurston has a little knob poking out of its left-hand (north) slope. To its south, the mountain skyline dips sharply to its lowest point between Weber and Farmington canyons.
The mountain is also the highest area peak in the Wasatch Range, between Ben Lomond Peak, near the Box Elder-Weber County line -- on the north -- and Big Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake County -- to the south.
The peak was unnamed until 1993 when a five-month effort by the Morgan Historical Society paid off. Namesake of the peak is a Mormon Pioneer, Thomas Jefferson Thurston, who had lived in both Weber and Morgan counties.
Prior to its naming, the peak was listed as “North Francis,” an unheralded benchmark on government maps.
A brass plaque, encased on a concrete stand, atop Thurston peak and placed there in 1993 reads:
"Named in honor of Thomas Jefferson Thurston, a Centerville resident who viewed the virgin valley of Morgan from the summit of the mountain in 1852 and recognized its potential for colonization. Realizing its disadvantage was its inaccessibility, in 1855 Thurston influenced others to assist him to carve a passible wagon road through Weber Canyon. He was among the first to settle in Morgan Valley and is acknowledged for bringing about its colonization."
Since “highpointing” (climbing the tallest county or state peaks ) took off in the late 1990s, Thurston Peak has become a destination for many hikers annually.
Easiest way to hike to Thurston Peak is to drive the Farmington Canyon “Scenic Backway” to Francis Peak and then hike north four miles to the high point. (However, this dirt road is rugged and not for the faint of heart.)
A portion of the path to Thurston also follows a segment of the Great Western Trail.
Otherwise, it is an all-day hike -- with twice the mileage and more than 10 times the elevation climb from starting points on the east bench of Layton -– like the Fernwood Picnic area, from the north slope of Adams Canyon, or from a trail just south of Hobbs Canyon.