Mt. Timpanogos P5K
Roberts Horn P500
Cedar Mountain P500

Wed, Aug 17, 2022
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profile

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Mt. Timpanogos - Roberts Horn

I was on my way to Colorado, pausing in Utah for a few days to climb some popular peaks there. Today's main event was Mt. Timpanogos, the highpoint of its own Wilderness, highpoint of Utah County, as well as a P5K. It is located north of Provo in the Wasatch Range. I had driven up American Fork Canyon the afternoon before and out towards the western end and the highpoint of Timpooneke Rd where I found a great campsite to spend the night at 8,800ft. It made for a fine relief from the sweltering heat plaguing the lower elevations. In the morning I was up early to drive back out to the Mt. Timpanogos North TH near the Timpooneke Campground. The TH is spacious and well-kept, and there is a fee for day-use, though a yearly pass for federal lands will work nicely.

I wasn't aware of it at the time, but I suspect this is one of the state's most popular trailheads. There would be people in view almost the entire day. On my way up, I counted more than 75 folks going to the summit and almost 100 on their way down, and this was on a Wednesday. The trail has been described in probably a 100 TRs, so I won't go into much detail here, suffice it to say the trail is well-maintained and easy to follow, about 14mi roundtrip with 4,600ft of gain or so.

The trail starts off as lush jungle, shaded and cool and well-appreciated in the warm summer months. It climbs to the south up the Giant staircase, a series of large, limestone benches descending from the Timpanogos Basin. I spoke with a few folks during this part of the ascent, curious to know how some of them were already on their way down, as it wasn't yet 8a. I was told they had started around 1a so they could catch sunrise from the summit, which seems to be popular. The most interesting person I ran across was a woman with an American flag drapped around her neck like a scarf. I didn't actually speak with her to understand the fashion choice, figuring I was in Utah and that should be explanation enough.

I reached Timpanogos Basin after two hours. Above treeline and peppered with flowers, grass and low shrubs, it was the prettiest part of the hike. There is a trail junction to the alternate route that climbs up from the east through Primrose Cirque from the Aspen Grove TH. There is a sweeping view of the high cliffs surrounding Mt. Timpanogos and the other high peaks in the area, really quite scenic. I reached the saddle on the crest of the range in another 40min. It's pretty much all rock from this point. This is a popular resting spot or to wait for your friends to catch up. Good views of Utah Lake and the urban sprawl below to the west and south. It would take me another half hour to ply the remaining distance on the trail to the summit where there is a partially open, roofed shelter at the top. Every inch of the shelter has been covered in names and dates and other graffiti. A ridiculously busy and tatered register book is inside, as is a benchmark from 1937. There were 3-4 folks about the summit, reading, resting, taking in views. One can see more than 50mi in all directions.

On my way back down, I decided to pay a visit to Roberts Horn, an easy bonus peak on the east side of Timpanogos Basin. Not far below the high saddle, I missed the turnoff for the other trail, descending from the original trail past the junction and eventually working my way southeast until I came upon the ducked route through acres of talus sloughed off the cliffs above. I followed this to a lower saddle, one side descending to Timpanogos Basin, the other to Emerald Lake and Primrose Cirque. Roberts Horn rises about 500ft to the northeast. Upon leaving the trail, it was the first time I felt somewhat alone. A small family of goats were munching grass just beyond the trail. An old trail of sorts climbs the lower part of the SW Ridge, eventually dissolving into talus and rock and grass, a fairly pleasant ascent. It was 11:45a when I reached the summit. I was surprised there was no register to be found, so I left one of my own. I don't expect it to last too long, however, seeing as it's so accessible from two popular trails.

In order to save some time and distance, I decided to try descending Roberts Horn off the west side. I knew there were cliffs on that side, but from afar it looked like there were usable slopes as well. I followed the ridge a short distance to the north, then dropped off the west side, bypassing Timpanogos Basin altogether. The slope was steep - very steep in a few places - but I was able to make it work at class 2-3 with only a few sketchy moves. Once back to the trail, I spent another hour and forty minutes returning to the trailhead. Oddly, I came across far fewer people in the early afternoon than I had in the morning. Seems most folks get up very early and get done before noon. I got back just after 2p.

Cedar Mountain

I went off to find a quiet place to shower before I continued my drive to Colorado. I spent more than five hours on backroads and then US40 as I made my way across Eastern Utah and Western Colorado. I was in the town of Craig, CO, gassing up before driving into the Routt National Forest where I planned to hike the next day. Consulting the peakbagger app, I noticed there was a Cedar Mountain a few miles to the northwest that might be mostly a drive-up. Driving in on country road 7, I was happy to find that the mountain is on BLM land and completely legal. Better, there is a rough road not depicted on the topo map that can be driven all the way to the summit. It was very rocky, but manageable in the Jeep, and I happened to reach the top right at sunset. I took a few quick photos, including the benchmark, then beat a hasty retreat so I could drive back down the roughest section before it got dark. I would then spend more than an hour driving high up into the Route NF where I was able to find cool conditions for sleeping.

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This page last updated: Mon Sep 12 14:27:13 2022
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