Hiking and Backpacking
The varied and unusual landforms in the Millard County area provide plenty of opportunity for outstanding day hikes, overnight treks and extended backpacks.
Trails follow cascading streams into our forested mountains, into remote backcountry areas. Wild trout, deer, elk and other kinds of wildlife thrive in the streams, riparian zones and forests. Fishermen, hunters, photographers and nature lovers probe these areas to find recreation and solitude. Excellent hiking opportunities exist along these mountain creeks: Oak, Pioneer, Chalk, Meadow and Corn.
Our west desert offers an amazing variety of enjoyable areas. And, along the Utah/Nevada border, Wheeler Peak and other mountains in the towering Snake Range offer incredible scenery and great hikes. A few of the best Great Basin hikes are described below. Inquire locally for other options.
North Peak features a sheer cliff that juts up about 3,000 feet above the desert floor. It is an amazing site – one of the most dramatic cliff faces in America. The top of the peak is about 9,655 feet above sea level. It is located in the House Range, about 44 miles southwest of Delta. The 9-mile round trip to the top offers solitude and spectacular views of the Great Basin in Utah and Nevada. The hike is not difficult, despite the 3,000-foot climb. Most of the trip is along a dry wash; only the final 0.25 mile to the top is relatively steep.
A stand of ancient bristlecone pine trees can be found on one side of the peak. (Some bristlecones are thought to be the oldest living things on earth.) The scene is incredible. Spread out along a slope, a few hundred gnarly trees twist out of the rock toward the desert sun. In the background the north face of Notch Peak juts upward like a fang.
Plan on an all-day hike. Bring plenty of water, as there are no water sources along the trail. Because of the lack of water and the exposure, Notch is best hiked in the spring and fall.
Swasey rises to 9,669 feet and also offers a stand of bristlecones. It can be done as a day hike or backpack. Swasey is the highest point in the House Range. There is not a clear trail leading to the top but it is not difficult to find a route. On top you’ll find a panoramic view that extends northwest to the Deep Creek Mountains, northeast to Mt Nebo, southeast to the Tushars, south over Sevier Lake and Tule Valley and southwest to Wheeler and Pilot peaks along the Utah/Nevada border.
CRYSTAL PEAK & THE WAH WAH RANGE
The Wah Wah Range offers a series of peaks that are fun to explore. Crystal Peak, in particular, is scenic and offers an interesting hike. It is composed of white rock produced during volcanic activity, and it stands out against the surrounding gray limestone. The peak is mostly bare rock, contorted and pocked into interesting shapes.
The gravel Crystal Peak Road comes west from Black Rock (off Hwy 257) and skirts the north side of the peak, making access easy. You can clearly see the peak for miles as you drive toward it.
Several kinds of fossils are found in the nearby limestone.
GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK
Hiking opportunities are outstanding within this national park, which is located just across the border in Nevada.
Wheeler Peak rises to an elevation of 13,063; it is the highest peak in the Snake Range and the second highest in the Great Basin. You can drive most of the way up the mountain and so the hike to the summit is not long or difficult. It can be done as a long day hike or an overnight backpack. Check at the park visitor center for details.
A forest of bristlecone pine trees grows on the side of Wheeler Peak. The trees can be viewed during a day-hike along a maintained trail. The scenery is spectacular, with the lush, green mountain rising abruptly from the desert floor.
Bristlecones are amazing. They grow in harsh conditions on rocky slopes at high elevations where they are exposed to wind and snow. The ancient trunks are often scared and gnarled into grotesque shapes. One tree, sacrificed for scientific study, was found to be 4,950 years old. Several living trees are well over 3,200 years old.
Lehman Caves is another major attraction at Great Basin NP. The cave is beautiful – it is decorated by massive stalactites, stalagmites and columns, and very dainty “straws” (tiny hollow tubes that hang from the ceiling). Draperies, “cave bacon” and a unique structure called “shields” give a rich variety to the cave.