Follow directions for the south approach through Payson to the Nebo Bench trail area. Take the dirt road at the entrance to the parking area north for 0.3 miles to a cattle guard. Cross the cattle guard and park here.
There is some discrepancy regarding mileage for this approach and route. Several guidebooks document the roundtrip mileage as 12 miles. Those who have hiked the route with GPS systems document the route as closer to 16 miles roundtrip and 5408 ft elevetion gain.
Follow directions for the south approach. From the parking area climb the well-marked trail through maple and oak thickets to a ridge known as Andrews ridge. The 3 summits of Nebo come into view from this ridge. Continue climbing the trail for over 4 miles to a point just below the south ridge. A series of switchbacks climb 600 ft in 0.5 miles to the ridge. Upon reaching the ridge the trail is join by the approach coming up from the Willow Creek approach on the west side.
At the south ridge turn right (north) and follow the ridge for 2 miles to the south summit at 11,877 ft. During these two miles the trail splits once where the trail either continues along the ridge or traverses on the west side of the ridge. Either route will get you to your destination as they join a little further along the ridge. There is a sign on the south summit placed by the Wasatch Mountain Club.
From the south summit the north (highest) summit is 1 mile away along an exposed ridge. Assess the weather, your energy level, and your comfort with Class 3 scrambling before launching. Retreat along this ridge is difficult at best. To continue across to the middle and north summit sthere are two options. 1) stay along the ridge crest the entire way (Class 3-4) or 2) drop down to the west past the middle summit and then cross to the east side of the ridge.
The most difficult part of the ridge traverse is between the middle and north summits. The ridge can be followed all the way for those comfortable with scrambling. There is a visible trail on the west side of the ridge about 100 ft below if scrambling is not your thing. This "trail" can be followed back up to the middle summit. The trail also requires some scrambling.
The traverse from the middle summit to the north summit staying on the ridge is Class 4 in places and the rock is unstable. A safer route is to contour 10-20 feet below the ridge on its east side. The ridge route is Class 3-4 and looks intimidating in places. The left fork drops down to the west and circles around to reach the north summit from the west. This may be a more reasonable alternative for some.
Ice axe and crampons are essential for any winter ascents.
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