North Horn Mountain is located just south of Joe's Reservoir which is east of the Wasatch Plateau. The nearest towns are Orangeville and Ferron which are found south of Price. North Horn Mountain offers no challenges nor will it test one's mountaineering skills but with 1925 feet of prominence, it comes in at number 90
on the top 100 prominence peak list
. Located in the Manti-La Sal National Forest, the roads and conditions are readily available by contacting the local ranger station (see red tape).
This area of Utah is not well known by very many people and a visit to this mountain will open your eyes to what is in this area. With a desert flavor,
this area is a contrast from the more alpine like areas found just to the west atop the Wasatch Plateau. Joe's reservoir is a popular destination for boaters and fishermen and seemed to be very active at the time of our visit.
There are two ways to get there, the best way is via Castle Dale to the east and the other by going over the dirt road that comes over the Wasatch Plateau from Ephraim (not described here). My recommendation is to come in via Castle Dale but if you are a bit more adventurous, certainly the route in from Ephraim might be to your liking.
From Salt Lake City area, head to Price Utah and head south on highway 10 and watch for road 29 which heads west just a few miles before you get to Castle Dale. Stay on this road as it makes its way to Joe's Valley reservoir and then works its way around to the west side of the reservoir. Watch for a sign to Joe's Campground and turn on the road that leads that direction as this will be FS road 0170. You will go past the campground and then make a turn that will head back downhill and then south. If you end up at the marina, you missed the turn that went downhill (I missed it and had to backtrack). From the junction where you turn on to FS 0170 to the next turnoff at FS 019 (lat/long 39.1995 -111.2700 nad 84), it is about 7 miles (good graded road) After crossing a cattle grate, FS 0170 hooks to the right and the road you want, FS 019 heads to the left and then uphill.
FS 019 is a well graded road and you stay on it, ignoring all other roads until you get to FS 020(notated by a sign with a 20 on it at 39.1968 -1112202)). Turn left onto this road unless you don't have high clearance and 4WD. A regular passenger vehicle could make it to this point but I wouldn't take it any further. Beyond this junction, I would walk it (not all that far) if I didn't have the high clearance/4wd. Otherwise, in good weather conditions, you could drive to a point that will put you about a half mile from the summit of North Horn with an elevation gain of 600 feet. From the junction with FS 0170 and FS 019, it was 6.3 miles via my odometer to where we parked.
Very easy terrain, gaining 600 feet in about a half mile. One fence to cross if you take the route that we did from the east side. No trails but no need. We did hit a cattle trail that went up to the summit plateau and from there it was easy to locate the high spot, marked by a cairn and a register bottle. No benchmark to find.
A few others have been to this one and as far as I know (thanks to Lists of John and the register on the summit), this is who I know has been to this summit:
2004 - Gordon MacLeod and Barbara Lilley (California)
2005 - John Vitz (California)
2008 - Greg Jagielski and Kadee Smith (Utah)
2010 - Dean Molen (Utah) Andrew Davis (Washington)
2010 - Mike Garratt (Colorado)
2011 - Jason Hardink (Utah)
No red tape that I am aware of.
MANTI-LASAL NATIONAL FOREST
Pamela Brown - Forest Supervisor
599 West Price River Drive
Price, UT 84501
FERRON RANGER DISTRICT
Darren Olsen - District Ranger
PO Box 310
115 West Canyon Road
Ferron, UT 84523
Looking toward So Horn
(you pass this one on the way)
Memorial day to mid october
Dispersed camping probable at other areas of the National Forest. Just use existing places that have had campers before and practice the leave no trace ethic.
Every summer, my son in law, Andrew, comes down from the Portland Oregon area and we spend four or five days in southern Utah. Our timing wasn't very good this year as a "monsoon" weather pattern set up house in the areas we wanted to visit and so we had to make adjustments and change our intended goals. However, the first day that we were out, we did fine since we were able to pick up North Horn. We didn't beat the weather by much however and if we had been an hour later, we might have found ourselves stuck in the mud since the last few miles of road is not of the gravelled variety.
We took the westside approach via Ephraim as it looked interesting and all in all, we found the road to be very good on the west side of the Wasatch plateau but not so good on the eastern side. In fact as you near Joe's reservoir, the road becomes a shelf type road and
a couple places made me very glad we didn't meet anyone coming up the road in those places. We found the road from where FS 0170 starts to the junction with FS 019 a very good road. It is wide and well gravelled and obviously maintained. FS 019 was good also but about half way to our intended goal, it no longer is gravelled and this is the part that would be problematic if you hit rain. It was about 7 miles from the junction with road 29 to the junction of FS 0170 & FS 019 and then another 6 miles or so from there to where we parked. We parked off the road and just picked a line up to the summit using my GPS waypoint of the summit as our guide. The GPS said it was 0.55 miles and a bit over 600 feet of elevation gain so it wasn't much of an effort. However, my son in law had just come from sea level and a start of 9000 feet was enough to make him appreciate thicker air.
The hike to the peak itself is pretty easy, and we really didn't need a trail as we were able to easily find the proper line, all the way to the summit plateau area. Andrew, my son in law, found that shorts was not the best call since about half way up the route we had picked, we started running into the "pokey" kind of plants that make you say "ouch".
The summit area is no great shakes, just a spot that is higher slightly than the surrounding area but adorned with a cairn and inside the cairn a register bottle. In six years, we were only the 4th official party of peakbaggers. There was one person who also discovered the cairn and register while she was on horseback and also two groups of young people who were on outdoor adventures but not peakbagging at the time. One more group of three young men from Price finished off the register entries. We took just a few pics and due to the way the weather was looking, we beat a hasty retreat off the mountain and I really wanted to get back to gravelled roads and pavement before the heavens cut loose. About an hour after we got to road 29 again, heading for Ferron, the sky above the highpoint blackened and we could see from the Ferron area that it was really getting nailed up there. Whew.
Next: We next headed for Moab (and dinner) and were treated to a huge downpour as we crossed the Swell. The temp in Moab was about 99 degrees and it cooled off to about 90 degrees at the campsite we found near the Colorado river. It was like trying to sleep in a sauna. The saga will continue as I report from Canyonlands National Park where we wanted to seek out the highpoint of the National Park. I might add we really got another rain dump (washed the truck off nicely) as we made our way to Canyonlands.
South Horn Mountain
It was our intention to also include a hike to the top of South Horn Mountain but the weather didn't allow us to do this. I plan to return to this area again, perhaps later this summer and visit South Horn. I think my wife would enjoy camping at the campground and seeing the area that Andrew and I enjoyed.
South Horn Mountain
For more information
SP member D_shorb has put up a great resource on Joe's Valley.
As road conditions can change and hiking or traveling in this type of country can be inherently dangerous, the above information is provided only as a courtesy. You accept all risk and responsibility for your activities in this area and I recommend that you let others know of your plans and where you will be hiking/climbing prior to heading to this area. Be self sufficient and carry plenty of food, water and shelter in the event of a breakdown. Good quality tires are a necessity on the rough and rocky roads you will encounter as is a vehicle in good condition. Having said all that, have a good trip and please let the author of this page know of changes that you encounter.