Utah County High Point Trip Report

Mt Nebo (11,928 ft)

Date: August 14, 2001
Authors: Jennifer and Gerry Roach

It is obvious that this peak can be climbed from several different directions. We ascended what we feel was not only the easiest, but also the shortest route for Mt. Nebo. The route described by Weibel and Miller in their book, "High in Utah," is the longer southern route, which involves hiking up a trail to the south summit, and then doing a rough traverse under the middle summit (which is unranked) to the main summit. Our northern route was a breeze, and it has a use trail most of the way. The trip statistics are 10 miles round-trip and 2,568 feet of gain from the northern trailhead, compared to a whopping 11 miles and 5,408 feet of gain from the southern trailhead!

From Payson, drive approximately 20 miles on the Nebo Loop Road to a large parking area with a signed trailhead for the Nebo Bench Trail at its south end. This route does not use the Nebo Bench Trail, which descends to the west from the trailhead. Instead, either walk or drive north on the fair, signed Pole Canyon Road, which starts on the north side of the parking lot and goes north. Follow it north for 0.7 mile until you reach a metal fence and a cattle guard. Pass through the cattle guard, and park on the north side of it. There are signs here asking 4WD vehicle owners to register their vehicles so that the USFS can study vehicle impact on the Pole Canyon Road. For this hike, you don't need to drive any farther, or register at this station. The parking spot here at 9,360 feet is fairly level, and makes a nice car-camping spot.

Directly across the road to the west, a trail starts uphill, and there is a registration box for hikers 100 yards up the hill. Follow the strong use trail generally west. You will have to cross over a barbed wire fence several times, and cattle were present when we were there. The Nebo Basin 7.5-minute Quadrangle shows the Nebo Basin Trail descending to the south from 9,400 feet, but this old trail is no longer in use, and we did not see it. The Nebo use trail continues west over a minor summit, then climbs west through forest, and is annoyingly steep in places. It reaches the ridge line at 9,600 feet, turns south, climbs up through a small, north-facing basin, climbs the northwest shoulder of North Peak, then traverses around North Peak on its west side. This traversing trail across a steep slope is what makes this route so nice. Descend slightly to reach the grassy Wolf Pass at 10,600 feet, which is a scenic spot between North Peak and Nebo's main summit. Continue following the good use trail southwest for another 1,300 feet to the summit of Mt Nebo. Near the summit, the trail skirts some cliffs, and stays on the east side of the ridge. Just below the summit, there is a steep, scruffy slope, which is the route's 'crux.'

The trail was easy to follow, and nothing exceeded Class 2, however this is a use trail, not a maintained, constructed trail. The summit has an odd register container, which is obviously hand-crafted. As you gaze south past the middle summit to the south summit, you will feel quite clever that you've chosen this easy northern route. Either coming or going, you may choose to seize the opportunity to hike over the summit of 11,174-foot North Peak, which adds 574 feet of off-trail ascent.