East Mountain • Highpoint: Emery County
• Wasatch Plateau

Date Climbed
July 17, 2006

Elevation
10,743 feet

Distance
3 miles

Time
2.5 hours

Gain
1,500 feet

Conditions
Pleasant

Prominence
1,543 feet

Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size version


The start of the hike


Wildflowers grace
the upper slopes


The benchmark and mound


East Mountain

Utah PageMain Page

Summitpost


Earlier today I visited Monument Peak, the Carbon County highpoint, then proceeded south from there toward my next objective, East Mountain in Emery County. I came in from the north and followed a graded hardpack road called Miller Flat Road for about 14 miles through high elevation valleys and meadows, and plenty of little lakes and man-made reservoirs. A popular camping region as evidenced by the number of campers I saw. I eventually came to a junction pointing toward Indian Creek Campground, and went east a ways, then north about two miles. I passed a campground on my left and continued up the road. The map and other reports mention the road deteriorates in quality not too long afterwards. Soon, gravel gave way to clay and the usual monster ruts that are easily etched into the clay. I was able to get past these, and afterwards the road actually improved a little.

The eminent guidebook for Utah's county highpoints, High In Utah suggests to drive this last poor road to a fence and hike directly up the mountain from here. a rough 1,600-foot gain in about a mile through mature forest and dense undergrowth to the top. However, a far better option exists! I was able to drive up past the fence to another fence line, with a large downed log laying across it to bar further access. It looks like the log was placed there deliberately. Immediately beyond it is a fence and a gate. The road, now closed to vehicles and ATVs, ascends up a small foothill behind the fence. If your vehicle can make it to the first fence mentioned in High In Utah, then it should be able to go another mile to the end to the road and the downed log. Conditions change; maybe I was just lucky, but I don't think so.

I parked and started walking up the road, gaining steeply as it bent right and leveled a short little in some grasses. It immediately started gaining steeply again and petered out near a wide spot, where the road, for all intents and purposes, ended. I found the trail behind the road and hopped over some minor deadfall, and stayed on this fine trail as it switchbacked once and gained moderately steeply before working its way into a sloping meadow and some fiberglass troughs placed there to catch the waters from a seeping spring. All of these roads are faithfully shown on the topographical map. I was making good time, but the foliage and grasses were dense, and it was humid, kind of uncomfortable, and very buggy, too. I should have worn pants. My nose wasn't too happy about all the pollen, either. Just scratching some itches, swatting away the flies and sneezing while at it.

The trail goes straight up the slope into some trees after the troughs, and about 200 feet later, near some large downed trees, splits. This junction is also on the map and easy to find ... once you find it. Erosion and general lack of upkeep of this trail has made it a little messy in some areas. Finally, the right split makes a general bend right, now heading south, and starts up a broad slope along a forest-meadow margin. This part is a grind, gaining about 700 feet straight up. The wildflowers were gorgeous and everywhere, a sea of yellows and oranges. I figured I sneezed about every 20 seconds, too.

As I progressed up the hill, the trail grew fainter, but by this time the slope had moderated and I could see some landmarks up ahead. Finding the summit was very simple. It's a slightly upraised bit of rock and open ground set right along East Mountain's west rim. The cliffs were quite impressive, and I could see the roads I had driven coming up. The total one way hike took less than two hours, gaining 1,500 feet in about a mile and a half. Although only a half-mile longer than the High in Utah directions, this had the advantage of a trail most of the way up and slightly less gain, plus moderated slopes. The true highpoint seems to be amid a small clump of vegetation about 150 feet southeast of the benchmark, which is easily found on the rocks. I stayed up top a few minutes to rest and take in the views, of the numerous mountains in all directions. It was very lovely.

The hike down went quickly and without event, taking me about 45 minutes as I jog-walked the slopes and trails. In all, a nice little hike that would have been better with long pants, some deet and a claritin. Even so, I enjoyed it and strongly recommend the trail/road options as opposed to the direct route given in the book.

I spent the rest of the day driving toward Moab, intending to climb Mount Waas. I made it there late in the afternoon and camped at the Miller Basin trailhead, same one I stayed at last year. Whereas last year weather scuttled my bid up Waas, this time I had fine weather, but no luck finding a route up the steep scree from Batchelor Basin. I had to abort my bid, and decided to call it a trip and start heading home. It had been a good three days: five central Utah counties in the books. I can't complain. I will most certainly be back for another attempt up Mount Waas; so far I am zero for two.

(c) 2006, 2013 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.