A Nasty Road, Followed by a Nasty Trail
This is a great hike and apparently not too frequented, as there are 2 other trails accessing the Wellsvilles. The long and rough road to the trailhead might also be a deterrent.
If I'd 'a known beforehand that the road was this nasty, I wouldn't have tried it, but once I was on it, I was committed to getting to the end. I was so worried about popping a tire on these nasty sharp rocks, but took it real slow and avoided the worst ones and my old Plymouth Voyager van made it just fine.
I finally got to the trailhead at about 1 PM and started out, elevation about 5980 ft. The first mile involved very little climbing and some irritating little downhills. (Why does every trail seem to have some of these?) I passed Coldwater "Lake", which to a southeasterner was just a glorified mudpuddle. Seriously, my pond back home is many times bigger than this filthy little cow manure polluted cesspool. A false trail to the right and uphill just past Coldwater Lake fooled me and after a short diversion I came back and got on the real trail, which heads downhill a ways. (Aggravating)
Finally the trail began to climb some and I came to a fork. I took the right fork because it was in the right direction and uphill, and it was the correct choice. This trail is seriously jungly in many parts, with branches growing out across the trail, and sometimes you walk on the trunks of small trees or bushes that grow horizontally across the trail. About an hour and a half in, I really considered turning back because there was some cloud formation, but my evaluation was that the clouds had no height to them and were just moving on, so I took a chance and kept climbing. I was glad I did, because it soon cleared up.
Finally, after 3 miles I arrived at Stewart Pass on the ridgeline of the Wellsville Mtns., elevation 8400 ft. I turned left (south) and headed for Wellsville Cone. The first big rise ahead was not Wellsville Cone, but required climbing over, to an elevation of 8900 ft., then downclimbing a good ways. Now Wellsville Cone was looming ahead, a very steep peak. When you finally get on the side of Wellsville Cone itself, there is a stretch of trail with some exposure. The trail is very narrow and covered with dirt and little rocks that could cause slippage, so be careful. There is a very steep drop of 100 or 200 feet if you take one step to the left. It was 1.85 miles to the summit from Stewart Pass.
Even though it is only 4.8 miles and about 3370 ft. of elevation gain, this is a tough trail because of all the downhill portions that waste the altitude you've gained. It took me 2:36 to get to the summit, whereas I did Mt. Logan, a much bigger climb, almost that fast. The views from the top were great, looking down the whole ridgeline of the Wellsvilles, Cache Valley on one side and views of all of Great Salt Lake on the other. I made the descent in 1:53, encountering the only 2 people I saw all day and a herd of cows on the trail.
The drive back down the road was equally nerve wracking and I rode the brakes a lot even in 1st gear, smelled hot brakes when I got to the bottom. The back of my van was covered in a fine grey dust.
From Logan take Hwy. 30 (200 N) to the west side of Cache Valley and turn left on Hwy. 23 to Mendon. Go through Mendon and on the south side of town take 1800 S, veering right. At first this is a small paved street, but then becomes gravel and comes to an apparent dead end at a house, but turn right on the dirt road just before the house. After a long straight section, you come to a T intersection and must make a very sharp left turn toward the mountains. From here on the road is nasty with rocks. 4WD is not necessary, but something with bigger and tougher tires would be preferable and a low clearance car is no good. Follow this road all the way to the end (it seems to go on forever) at about 5980 ft. and a small parking area at the trailhead.
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