Bald Mountain

Elevation: 11,943
Location: Uinta Range, Utah

Bald Mountain from the trailhead parking lot Bald Mountain is one of the most popular and easily accessed high peaks in the state of Utah. Just an hour and a half from Salt Lake, you can hike quickly to the nearly 12,000 foot summit on a good trail.

Allen and I did the Bald Mountain hike in August of 1997, not long after we had climbed Mount Elbert. We left Salt Lake early in the morning and drove the scenic Highway 150 up to the Bald Mountain Trailhead at about 10,600 feet. We started around 10am, expecting it to take only an hour to climb the 1,300 feet to the summit and beat any building thunderstorms. This is where we were wrong. By 10am, clouds were already starting to build. After a few minutes of hiking up the trail, we encountered a large snowfield with a sharp dropoff to the side. Some hikers were carefully climbing up and across the footprints, which were pretty hard from the cold temperatures the night before. Allen and I both decided to try it, and we carefully moved up the snowfield. In hindsight, without an ice axe to perform a self-arrest, this is a bad idea, as we would have had a lot of trouble stopping on the hard snow before landing on the rocks below (or going off the cliffs below!). It is easy to climb the steep, rocky hillsides and bypass this snowfield should you encounter it on a bad day.

Once beyond the snowfield, the trail re-appeared and the trail was clear, but boulder-strewn to the summit. We made good time, but not as fast as we had hoped. Upon reaching the peak we could see very dark thunderheads over nearby Reids Peak. The skies were better to the east where we could see Mirror Lake directly below the sharp east face of Bald Mountain, with the higher peaks of Mount Agassiz and Hayden Peak beyond. Hayden is a rugged peak with a reputation of being a good scramble, and I hope to climb it within a year or two. A large group was on the summit, evidently unphased by the dark skies so nearby. The white summit boulders were speckled with black marks, and green moss. We stayed on the peak for about 30 minutes before heading down.

View east from summit towards Mirror Lake and Hayden Peak By the time we were halfway down the peak lightning was starting to flash off in the distance. We still had that snowslope to negotiate and that would be no fun fearing lightning strikes. That is when we opted to downclimb the steep slope and bypass the snow all-together. The climbing wasn't dangerous, and other than slow in parts it was much better than being on the snow. Once we reached the trail it was only a few minutes to the car. Once at the car it was about five minutes until the thunderstorm hit. We were glad to be off the mountain which still had a number of hikers on it at this time.

We drove to Mirror Lake and explored that area for a while, and also took a few pictures from Bald Mountain Pass and the Hayden Peak Overlook. Another short but worthwhile hike that I've done in the area is Lily Lake, which offers great views back to the east of the rugged face of Hayden Peak, and only takes an hour or two roundtrip. The roundtrip distance for a hike up Bald Mountain is about two miles climbing 1,300 feet. It should take about two hours to complete the trip.