Fish Lake Hightop P2K

Thu, Jul 23, 2015
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Fish Lake Hightop is the highpoint of Sevier County, UT with more than 4,000ft of prominence. At its base lies Fish Lake, the largest natural mountain lake in the state from which the surrounding Fishlake National Forest derives its name. The county highpoint is not altogether very difficult to reach - about 10mi roundtrip with less than 3,000ft of gain, starting from the pavement near Fish Lake. For those interested in a much shorter excursion and access to a beefier vehicle, there is a backcountry jeep trail that reaches a high TH a mere 10min from the summit. I used the lower Pelican Canyon Trail starting from the Pelican overlook (about 15min from Fish Lake by foot, or driveable with high clearance). The trail leads away from the lake and into a nice mix of aspen forest and meadow before picking up an old roadbed that begins the 2,000-foot climb up Pelican Canyon. Views are absent for much of this hike but the real beauty begins when you top out onto the Fish Lake Hightop Plateau, a boulder-strewn mesa with alpine grasses and flowers that extends for nearly five miles. Ducks lead across the plateau where the trail is thin, leading you to the 4WD trailhead located just below the summit. A short scramble leads to the highpoint above the plateau, offering views in all directions. A benchmark and register are found among the summit rocks along with the teetering remains of a wooden survey tower. The register shows a good many visitors, dating back only as far as 2009. Among these were a few of the usual CA suspects including Richard Carey and Terry Flood, both from the San Diego area. I spent a little over two hours in reaching the summit and perhaps a half hour less time in descending back to the start.

It was barely 11a when I finished and in ordinary circumstances I would be looking for another hike to fill the afternoon, but today I had more driving to do across UT in order to reach the La Sal Range by evening. I took some backroads on a scenic tour to Interstate 70, then much driving east across the state. I found I-70 to be an impressive engineering marvel as it carves a path across the Great Basin's canyon country, diving into and out of several starkly beautiful canyon systems, all the while allowing for high speed motoring. I turned south on US191 and made my way to Moab, stopping briefly at Arches National Park. I thought I might make a last minute plan change by visiting a few arches in the park, but after perusing the park map just inside the entrance station I realized that my plan would be hampered by the combination of long, winding roads with busy summertime traffic along with stiffling heat that would make the experience much less than fun. I punted, deciding another season would make for a better visit, and headed south to the La Sals where I could find cooler temperatures and few people for the night...

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