Iron Mine Mountain is best known for its starkly beautiful 2 mile-long cliffband guarding access to the summit from the North. It is the 2nd highest summit of South-Western Uintas, after Currant Creek Peak. Both mountains are fairly accessible in summer, in fact they dominate a wide swath of much-abused jeeping / ATV terrain. But in winter, they become beautiful and challenging skiing daytrip objectives. Therefore, this page focuses on winter routes.
Mirror Lake Hwy (rte 50 East from Kamas) is plowed to Soapstone turnoff
(milepost 14), which is about 4 miles airline from the summit, and almost 3,000 vertical ft below.
For details on winter trailheads and snowmobiling restrictions, check Forest Service Winter Recreation Map
North slopes of the mountain are cliffy and densely wooded, and routefinding is essential. Southern slopes are more gentle and the woods are more open, and this the knowledge of the routes is less important.
The routes are listed counterclockwise starting from the East. All of them share a two-mile segment of Soapstone Basin road, which is groomed for the 'biles in winter. Please note that the uppermost two switchbacks and the lowermost two switchbacks of this road may be a fair game for shortcutting on the way back,on the way back, but the middle switchback loops around a shallow gully of a small tributary of Soapstone creek and thus should not be cut short.
North Bench - Iron Mtn Lake
North Iron Mountain road branches off Soapstone Road at the turn of the 5th switchback. It receives very limited snowmobile traffic in winter. The roads winds up and down a high bench over 1000 ft above Mirror Lake hwy. The farther you go, the better are the views. Initially Haystack Mtn, Baldy and Reid, and Hayden peak in a distance dominate the view; then Notch Mountain comes into view, and , eventually, the whole chain of Western Uintas.
Road Landmarks: "First Creek" crossing is about two miles after the turnoff, then it is just under two miles more to the "Second" and "Third" creeks (which are within a few hundred yards from each other), and another mile to "Fourth Creek", where the bench ends. The road turns abruptly North and climbs a 9,700 ft plateau to a signed junction
to Iron Mine Lake. The woods open up and the snowmobile tracks might go in many direction. One generally doesn't have to drop all the way to Iron Mine Lake (which is two miles to SSE) to gain the gentle East Ridge of Iron Mine Mtn. Athough this route may have the least trailbreaking, it is long (10-11 miles one way) and roundabout. Two of the shorter variations are described below.
North Bench - direct East Ridge
The first glimpse of the cliffsof Iron Mine Mtn is about a quarter mile past the "First Creek". A mile later, watch for a barricaded logging road splitting off at a 45 degree angle to your right (N 40° 35.124', W 110° 58.900'). The road is unmarked on the topo, so I included an aerial for the reference. On this aerial shot, the turnoff is marked by the first of the two red dots.
Alternatively, one may continue on the North Iron Mtn Road 0.2 miles past the turnoff, and cut through the semi-open evergreens just short of the spot where the road turns hard to the right into the gully of "Second Creek". Do not be tempted to stay on the main road any longer, since the terrain becomes much steepr.
The logging road / ATV trail gradually climbs to the crest of a higher bench. The views get better and better. Stay left at the junctions till you arrive to a tight group of junctions near a creek crossing about 3/4 miles from the barricaded turnoff. There, turn right to an unmapped logging road on the East side of this shallow creek gully. Keep left at the next junction (second red dot at the image). In another half-mile, th road fades into picturesque meadows and glades at the base of the headwall of the East ridge. Proceed East along the cliffband until you find a comfortable crossing spot, then turn SW and gain the main East ridge.
North Bench - West Saddle
Two former logging roads on both sides of "First Creek" converge under the West end of the headwall. The terrain is steeper there.
Soapstone Creek - West Saddle
The first of the Souther Slopes routes. A marked ATV trail splits off to the left of Sopastone Basin road at the first gully after the road crests the West ridge of Iron Mine Mtn, about half mile past the North Road junction. This trail follows this minor drainage all the way to West Saddle.
Lambert Hollow - West Shoulder
Lambert Hollow is the second East tributary of Soapstone Creek (about 3 miles from the winter TH) and a fairly major one, frequently visited by snowmobilers. 3/4 miles into the drainage, it splits in the end of a large meadow at 7,775 ft el. The main, more popular route is to the right (SW) (described next), but there is also an old jeep trail following the left drainage and eventually gaining the ridge between the two creeks. This road continues all the way to 9,900+ ft West Shoulder, and then contours the mountains just South of its summit (it is visible in the lower end of the aerial image on the right).
Lambert Hollow direct
Lots of open meadows here, easy routefinding all the way up.
Upper Soapstone Basin
Following the main snowmolbilers' drag across Soapstone Basin, one comes very close to the East Ridge of the mountain at 40° 33.49'N, 110° 57.44'W
. Although less trail breaking would be involved, this becomes too long and too gentle tour.
Mirror Lake Hwy corridor is a recreation fee area
(daily pass $3, annual pass avl). Soapstone Basin is outside of the fee area.
When To Climb
It is hardly ever climbed in winter, yet it is the winter season which we recommend. In summer, it would be a walk-up after some ATV ride.
The biggest advantage of the North Bench routes is that the elevation is gained quickly and the routes stay in the shade of the densely wooded North slopes, so it is good for early or late season skiing.
Camping is allowed throughout the area and campgrounds abound, self-service permit req'd for off-cg camping North of the mountain, 14-day camping limit applies to the no-fee areas South of the mountain.