The Mountains of Utah •
Big Mountain • Bull Valley Mountains
• Dixie National Forest
• Washington County

Big Mountain

A marker at the Men's Memorial from the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857

The top towers

The hill beyond the towers

At the far hill, looking back at the last tower. The highpoint is likely on that hill with the tower

Hiking back, some of the other towers, and my shiny car

Some of the road, looking downhill

Date: May 29, 2021 • Elevation: 7,230 feet • Prominence: 908 feet • Distance: 0.8 mile • Time: 20 minutes hike, 1 hour whole journey • Gain: 200 feet • Conditions: Cloudy and warm, breezy


Overview: I spent three days in the St. George area, hiking anything that looked interesting, fun or both. I was not picky, and I was an opportunist, tagging a few hilltops simply because they were convenient. I visited nine ranked summits in the region, all short hikes, but cumulatively hiked about 15 miles and about 4,500 feet of elevation gain.

My agenda:

After hiking Diamond Cone, it was still early afternoon with plenty of time to waste. In my research of the peaks in the area, I had come across Big Mountain, which features a good gravel road to the towers that line its summit ridge. However, I did not print any maps for it and had not included this peak on my primary itinerary. But with time open, it now looked attractive.

From the Diamond Cone area, I drove northbound on UT-18 up over the pass near Big Mountain. A few miles of the highway were being worked on, and heavy machinery and cones were lined along the highway, but being a holiday weekend, there were no workers about. I actually drove past the turn-off to the peak and all the way into the town of Enterprise, which was only about five miles farther. I needed to get some drinks and snacks anyway. I took the time to drive the main road into Enterprise, then back out. It is a tidy Mormon town in the middle of nowhere, nothing of particular interest that I could see.

I drove southbound now on UT-18 and found the turn-off to the peak, Dixie Forest Road 198. Reports say this is a great road that any vehicle could handle. I'm always skeptical of such statements, but figured I had nothing to lose. If I had to park early, the walk would not be too long. The road is well maintained, never too steep, reasonably wide and other than a few ruts from when someone was up here in wet conditions, the road was a good road. I drove 2.7 miles, all the way to the tower complex, parking in a clearing where the good road ends.

The highest point is along a ridge to the northeast, where a rougher track makes a sharp 180-degree turn and ascends the ridge. I went light, just carrying my camera and a drink. From where I parked, I had about a 200-foot gain in under a half-mile, all along this rougher track. The track itself was rocky, but a beefy vehicle with good tires would have no problem with it. I did not want to chance my Forester on it, and being so close anyway, saw no reason to take that chance.

In about ten minutes, I was at the last tower. Beyond it, the ground drops about twenty feet and ascends another hilltop, bare of towers and marked by a spot elevation of 7,229 feet on the map. I found a register tucked into a pile of rocks and signed in, but not many people had signed in. Looking between the two hills, I concluded the probable higher hill was the one with the tower on it, around its back (east) side near a fence line and fenceposts. The elevation differential may be just a couple of feet.

I returned to my car, the hike taking less than a half hour. It was about 3 p.m. and up this high, the temperatures were cooler, in the low 70s. Although cloudy, there was no chance of rain. I brought out a camp chair and just sat in it for about a half hour, enjoying the solitude.

The drive down the road went well. I went slowly, but the drive took just ten minutes and I was soon back onto the highway. A few miles south, I stopped off at the Men's Memorial Site of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre, where Mormons, along with recruited Paiute Indians, attacked and slaughtered a wagon train of emigrants from Arkansas. This is a notorious event and arguably the darkest chapter of the early Mormon settlers in the region. In 2009, I had visited the main memorial site. The Men's site is where the men were killed. There is a Women's and Children's site nearby, where the women and children were killed. I encourage you to read up on this event and the history surrounding it.

Back on the highway, I was about 35 miles north of St. George. I drove into St. George and then got kind of lost on its main boulevards. I stopped for a while at an Albertson's to use its wifi. It was now past 4 p.m. and very warm, into the low 90s. I had one more "peak" on my agenda, Harrisburg Bench, which was north of the city a few miles off of Interstate-15. I wanted to kill some time and hike it at sunset. Although it would be warm still, once the sun is low, the heat is not so oppressive.

(c) 2021 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.