Mill Fork CreekI set my sights on Deseret Peak after hiking Hayford, Arc Dome , Pilot , North Schell , and Ibapah the previous 5 days. I hiked Ibapah on the 4th of July 2006 and then headed to Deseret. I took the old Pony Express Road from the old town of Callao all the way over to Hwy 36, about 90 miles. This is an interesting historical route that is worth the drive. The road is all gravel, but it is good high speed travel. You do have to slow down around a few of the corners.
My goal was to hike Deseret from the east side from the South Willow Canyon road. After I found the South Willow Canyon turnoff from the road going to Grantsville, I drove up the canyon. It had been raining in the area from a large thunderstorm front that was hovering over the mountain, so I didn’t know if any of the campsites would have an opening during 4th of July week. I am an expert at dirtbag car camping, so I knew I would be able to find some place to spend the night.
To my surprise most of the campgrounds were empty. I guess the thunderstorms cahsed everyone out earlier in the day. I drove up to the end Loop Campground next to the trailhead and made myself comfortable in a nice campsite. There was no one else around. I did pay my $6 for the night. It was still lightly raining and it was cool so after fixing dinner, I was able to go to sleep easily.
The morning dawned clear and beautiful. I quickly finished breakfast and got myself ready to hike. The trailhead at elevation 7,418 ft was only about 200 ft from my campsite, so I left my car in the campsite and headed off up the trail. This is a beautiful trail under a forest canopy and along Mill Fork Creek. At the first major creek crossing, I easily found the trail on the otherside and continued up the valley.
Soon the forest opened up to beautiful meadows with tall grass and beautiful wildflowers everywhere. This is really good stuff and worth the hike. The miles went by quickly and the elevation gain was nice and gradual. I woke up a couple deer along the trail and they moved out of the way reluctantly. Soon I reached the head of this magnificent valley and the trail became steeper as it climbed up the headwall to the ridgeline at 10,000 ft.
The ridgeline is above treeline so the views are already spectacular. I turned right or west towards Deseret and continued up towards the summit. I couldn’t see the summit yet because of a hill that was in the way. I climbed the hill, crossed a large snow patch near the top, and could finally see the summit area ahead. The nice trail led me directly up to the summit.
The weather was as perfect as it could possibly be. It was nice and warm, but not hot. There was no wind and the views in all directions were no less than spectacular. I spent some extra time on top just enjoying the solitude. Eventually, I had to come back down and head off to my next destination – Flat Top .
I went down the same trail that I ascended. I didn’t see any other hikers until I was only about ¼ mile from the trailhead. The total hike was about 8 miles and took 4 ¾ hours. There is about 3,600 ft of elevation gain, but it didn’t seem to be too burdensome because the scenery was so exceptional. This is a good hike to take spouses and kids along. I hope I get the opportunity to hike this one again.