the south summit of Mount Nebo
13.2 miles (round trip)
1: 5 hours
5,400 ft. gain/loss
Nebo Bench Trailhead
(start): 6,480 ft.
campsite: 9,440 ft.
Mount Nebo (South
Peak): 11,877 ft.
The trail is generally easy to follow, however it is very
steep in places and has no reliable water.
Midsummer through mid-fall. The upper parts of the trail
are usually covered with snow from mid-November until
July. For current conditions call the Spanish Fork Ranger
District, Uinta National Forest, at (801) 798-3571.
Mount Nebo Wilderness Area, near Nephi
Nebo, the centerpiece of the Mount Nebo Wilderness Area,
is the highest peak in the Wasatch Mountains. As one might
expect, the views from its summits are spectacular, but
it is also one of the most strenuous hikes in this book.
The trail to the southern summit climbs 5,400 feet, over
a mile of elevation gain, in only 6.6 miles of trail;
and, to make matters worse, there is no reliable source
of water along the way. Most people who climb Nebo reach
only the southern peak (11,877 ft.), where the trail stops,
but the northern peak (11,928 ft.) is actually the highest
point. The two lie about a mile apart on a long knife-edge
summit ridge, with a third, slightly lower peak between
Many hikers climb Mount
Nebos southern summit as a day hike, and a few hardy
souls even manage to ascend the northern peak in one day.
But it is a very strenuous climb, and if you enjoy the
mountains I suggest an overnighter might be more appropriate.
There are several good campsites along the way, and the
extra day will give you time to really appreciate the
rugged alpine wilderness.
From the trailhead the Nebo
Bench Trail begins by ascending in a westerly direction
through the dense conifer forest. Then, after about 0.5
mile, it swings to the north to begin the first of four
wide, altitude-gaining switchbacks up to Andrews Ridge.
This section of the trail appears to have been improved
and relocated in the early 1990s, probably for the benefit
of the many pack horses that use the Nebo Bench Trail.
After 2.0 miles the trail finally breaks out of the forest
into a relatively clear area of wildflowers, sage brush,
and scattered shrub oak. This clearing represents the
beginning of Andrews Ridge, up which the Nebo Peak Trail
runs for the next 1.5 miles.
The Nebo Peak Trail departs
from the Nebo Bench Trail just above the point where it
first reaches Andrews Ridge. Watch carefully as you leave
the clearing, and after about 200 yards you should see
a smaller trail leaving the main trail on the left. The
Peak trail is unmarked and, worse, it is obscured by a
dense undergrowth of gamble oak, but if you are attentive,
you should be able to spot it. The main trail continues
climbing gradually in a northerly direction, while the
trail to Nebo Peak rises more steeply to the west.
Beyond the trail junction
the Nebo Peak Trail makes its way westward along Andrews
Ridge for a distance of 1.4 miles before finally dropping
off the north side of the ridge. I suggest you establish
a camp here at the top of the ridge. At this point you
are 3.1 miles from the south summit of Mount Nebo, and
the elevation is 9,450 feet. There are also some nice
camp sites on the summit ridge, 1,100 feet higher, but
you will sleep much better at the lower altitude. Furthermore,
carrying a backpack above 10,000 is very tiring.
From the top of Andrews
Ridge the trail bears north for 0.9 mile, crossing into
South Nebo Basin, and then turns west again for the climb
up to the top of the summit ridge. Dont be confused
by another less well used trail that continues north across
South Nebo Basin. This is the old route of the Nebo Bench
Trail. Finally, 1.3 miles after leaving Andrews Ridge
the trail reaches a shallow saddle in the summit ridge.
An old wooden sign indicates that this is also the point
where Willow Creek Trail reaches the ridge. The Willow
Creek Trail is another route to the top of Mount Nebo
that begins east of the town of Mona.
The next 1.3 miles along
the summit ridge, towards the base of Mount Nebos
south peak, is probably the most pleasant part of the
hike. The views are outstanding. On the west side of the
ridge is the farming community of Mona, surrounded by
fields of grain and alfalfa, with I-15 snaking past on
its way up the Utah Valley. To the east, as far as the
eye can see, are mountains and forests-Uinta National
Forest, Manti-La Sals National Forest, and beyond that,
Ashley National Forest. But most spectacular of all is
the view to the north along the summit ridge. The three
peaks of Mount Nebo, each one more rugged than the last,
cling tenuously to the knife-edge ridge of uplifted limestone
as they reach for the open sky above. Even in July the
ridge is often accented with patches of white snow, and
the prevailing west winds frequently pile the snow into
long graceful cornices along the eastern side. The trail
avoids the cornices by staying slightly below the western
side of the ridge.
Just before reaching the
south summit the trail crosses a small flat bench, then
it climbs the last 500 feet to the top. The trail ends
at the south summit, and this is as far as most people
go. The north summit, 0.9 mile further on, is 51 feet
higher, but getting there and back adds at least two more
hours to the hike. The route is not technically difficult,
but some hand-over-hand scrambling is required and there
are a few places where a fall could be disastrous. The
north summit is particularly dangerous in bad weather.
Do not attempt to reach it unless you have plenty of time
and the weather is good.
provided by David
Day of utahtrails.com. Click here to order his book
Favorite Hiking Trails.