OverviewThis route climbs three high peaks in one shot. This is a very long one day hike for a strong climber. It could be done in two or more days as well, but carrying a pack accross the ridge and through all the boulders can be a bit tedious.
The easiest direction to hike the ridge is actually from north to south, but the recommended route is actually south to north. Why? Because doing the route from south to north puts you across the ridge in the morning rather than afternoon. This route is very thunderstorm prone, so descend the ridge at the first sign of danger.
Getting ThereThere are several driving routes to the trailhead, but this is the quickest. A good road map is needed.
From Roosevelt, take State Highway 121 north. This is where the elbow in Highway 40 is, right downtown, so the turnoff is easy to locate. Stay on Highway 121 north, follow it as is makes a sharp turn at Neola and heads due east. The highway will reach a "T" and turn south. At the "T", turn left (north) to the town of Whiterocks. From Whiterocks, drive northwest along the paved road. Not long after passing the fish hatchery, will be another junction. Go straight (not left). The road heads north, then east, then north again. At the next intersection, go straight and to the Elkhorn Guard Station.
Turn left and continue on the Elkhorn Loop Road, up Pole Mountain, and to Forest Road 110 before heading to Pole Creek Lake. Don't take the Elkhorn Loop to Pole Creek Lake, but turn right onto Forest Road 110. If you reach Pole Creek Lake, you overshot the turnoff. Follow Forest Road 110 north for about four miles to the signed (for West Fork Whiterocks Trailhead) turnoff to the left. Turn left to the trailhead. Most of the Elkhorn Loop as well as Forest Road 110 is gravel, but usually in good condition for cars, provided you drive slowly.
Route MapsClick maps for full size:
Route DescriptionFrom the trailhead, head west with a compass (or GPS). The route is a bit tedious because of fallen logs and such, but there are no real difficulties. You will cross one or more rough logging roads along the way. If you can find the beginning of the roads, this would likely be an easier alternative than the route described assuming you have a 4wd.
There are two alternate ridges to climb to get to the Clover BM. The ridge I climbed is marked in red. My approximate route is marked in red; though I didn’t follow the logging road since I didn’t know where it was going (older maps did not show the logging road, but following it will save time).
SP member Zee Jay took the route marked in purple. The yellow route sounds gentler and although slightly longer, might be just as fast (or faster).
If taking the Red Route, climb the ridge which has some very steep slopes to skirt at first, but once on the ridge it gets easier. There is a bit of scrambling/boulder-hopping. Continue up the ridge to the very broad and flat summit of Clover benchmark, marked with a cairn. The Purple Route will join up with the Red Route here.
From Clover benchmark follow the broad ridge west over a minor summit and to the summit of "West Clover". There are some nice views, especially to the north. "West Clover" is seven miles from the trailhead.
From "West Clover" follow the still broad ridge northwest and to a saddle. There are many rocks to walk over all along this ridge, so it’s not as flat or easy as it appears on the map.
From the saddle, continue northwest up to the summit of Peak 12,127, which is also known as Penny Nickell Peak. The ridge broadens more still. Continue north and down to another saddle. From the summit, climb north to Cleve benchmark and to "Cleve Peak". From the summit of "Cleve Peak", head north along the ridge and descend down the steep slope to Fox-Queant Pass. This is 1.3 miles from the summit of Cleve Peak. From Fox-Queant Pass, follow the trail east then southeast to beautiful Cleveland Lake. This is 2.5 miles from Fox-Queant Pass. At Cleveland Lake, go straight instead of following the trail east to Queant Lake. The trailhead is another four miles from Cleveland Lake and is a pleasant stroll.
This route is around 18 miles round trip and is a very long day trip. Overnighting is possible, but you would have to carry a backpack over the ridge.