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Deseret Peak Hike

Oquirrh + Stansbury Mountains, Utah

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Deseret Peak Hike

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  • Aspen leaf detail.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • Campsite in Mill Fork.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • View north, upper Mill Fork.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • Hikers descending from Deseret Peak.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • View north from the saddle near Deseret Peak with Stansbury Mountains and the Great Salt Lake- Deseret Peak Hike
  • From the saddle near Deseret Peak the trail climbs open alpine terrain to the summit.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • Rugged cliffs just north of the trail to Deseret Peak.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • View east from the summit of Deseret Peak: Oquirrh Mountains and the Wasatch Mountains in the distance.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • View north from the summit to the Great Salt Lake.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • View west from the summit to the Great Basin and Bonneville Salt Flats.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • Deer hunters descend from the summit of Deseret Peak.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • Rock shelter and summit register on Deseret Peak.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • View north from the summit of Deseret Peak.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • A hiker resting on the top of Deseret Peak.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • View west on the descent from Deseret Peak.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • Looking north from the saddle above Pockets Fork on the descent from Deseret Peak.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • Pockets Fork.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • Aspens near the trailhead.- Deseret Peak Hike
  • - Deseret Peak Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Expansive views of the Great Salt Lake and West Desert. Loop hike to an 11,000-foot peak. No crowds.
Cons: 
Fairly strenuous. No shade above 10,000 feet.
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Region:
Oquirrh + Stansbury Mountains, UT
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
3,603.00 ft (1,098.19 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
6.00 mi (9.66 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
7,428.00 ft (2,264.05 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

For a mountain hike with superb scenery, wildlife viewing opportunities, and few other people, Deseret Peak in Utah’s Stansbury Mountains is tough to beat. Deseret Peak’s list of superlatives make it irresistible to serious peakbaggers, but this area sees a fraction of the traffic that the Wasatch Range does. The highest point in Tooele County and the highest point in the Stansbury Mountains, Deseret Peak is also in the small group of Utah mountains with over 5,000 feet of prominence. Being so much higher than the surrounding terrain, the summit offers views over 100 miles in all directions and is one of the best vantage points overlooking the Great Salt Lake, the West Desert, and the Bonneville Salt Flats. 

As if that weren’t enough, trails on either side of the mountain allow you to hike to the summit and back to your car without retracting your steps (except for a short stretch near the trailhead). The trail starts from the Loop Campground parking area and takes you through a dense forest of aspen and Douglas fir. After a stream crossing you’ll reach a fork at about three-quarters of a mile from the trailhead. To hike the loop clockwise, stay left, following the sign for Deseret Peak. You’ll return to this point from Pockets Fork after reaching the summit. The trail continues up into Mill Fork, a bowl-shaped glacial valley with a steep headwall at the upper end. After a series of switchbacks the trail tops out at a saddle where a four-way junction appears. As the sign indicates, take the trail to the right to continue to Deseret Peak. The open alpine terrain above is home to many wildflowers in the late spring and summer. 

The trail skirts several false summits on the way to the true summit, about a mile from the intersection. At the summit, a rock shelter provides a bit of a wind break, and views in all directions are unobstructed, from Pilot Peak in Nevada (more than 60 miles to the northwest) to Mount Nebo to the southeast. To finish the loop, follow the trail descending the north ridge from the summit. The trail leads down the ridge in a series of switchbacks, then descends Pockets Fork, the drainage just north of Deseret Peak.  This area has abundant mule deer and elk, and you may see hunters in the fall.  The next trail junction will take you back to the Loop Campground (right), or left to South Willow Lake. A magnificent viewpoint sits about 50 yards from the junction. 

The usual time to hike Deseret Peak is spring through fall, as the long gravel road leading to the trailhead is closed in winter. Winter ascents will require skis or snowshoes as well as a longer approach and attention to avalanche conditions.  

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