Bald Mountain is a high and seldom climbed peak. Despite being nearly 11,000 feet high, it is probably one of the least visited major peaks in the Wasatch Range. The reason is pretty obvious in that it sits in the shadows of Mount Nebo, the highest peak in all of the Wasatch. What few people who drive this far are almost always climbing Nebo. Nevertheless, Bald Mountain is an outstanding hike and surely offers the best views of Nebo of any mountain.
There appears to be only one major route on Bald Mountain according to Gary Nichols "Trails of the Wasatch South". That begins at the Monument Trailhead (start of the Nebo Bench Trail) at about 9,250 feet along the Nebo Scenic Loop road. Unlike the Timpanogos Loop road, the Nebo road is free of charge. From here follow a dirt road for about 2.5 miles, find a track leading up and around the south face of Bald Mountain, then back to the east gaining Bald Mountain's ridge at about 9,800 feet. From here faint tracks lead 1,100 feet up open terrain to the peak.
The dirt road makes for easy walking. Within 10 minutes is a cattleguard and the start of the now popular approach for climbing North Nebo. Follow the road for about 2.5 miles to a saddle. You could drive this road easily in a 4x4, and maybe even a regular car, but I'd reccomend walking it as the views are outstanding along the way and there is plenty of solitude (except occassional cattle). We walked too far at first on the road to a saddle looking down to Utah Valley to the west. If you get to this saddle and the road begins to go down, you've gone about 10 minutes too far. A short walk back on the road took us to an open area that appeared used for camping. From here look for a track leading west about 100 feet parallel to the dirt road. The track immediately splits, take the left and continue west just above the road.
The trail heads west at a gentle grade, than turns north, then back east climbing steadily as it gains the summit ridge at 9,800 feet. From here you can see the open slopes of Bald Mountain up ahead. The next 400 feet are a bit of a struggle through shrubbery and terraces. Keep close to the ridge as best as you can. Once you get to about 10,200 the terrain gets more rocky and less vegitated. A track can be found most of the way from here to the 10,913 foot summit. Behind you the views of Mt. Nebo just get better as you climb higher. Allen and I were in a bit of a rush as clouds were building all around us quickly.
The summit views are typically outstanding. To the north a rocky ridge gives way to outstanding views back towards Provo, Lone Peak, Mt. Timpanogos and the Provo Peak area. To the northeast were the matching summits of Santaquin and Loafer Mountain (being closed in on by rain clouds). South is the enormous Mt. Nebo massif, with all three peaks visible. No mountain view will make you appreciate the size of Nebo like the view from Bald Mountain. Beware of the large pieces of broken glass on the summit.
I got to the top just ahead of Allen and had a short break for photos and some gatorade. The summit log had been started in July by a group of scouts, and on Sept. 1st we were the first entry since then! Allen climbed the final steps and I clicked a shot of him w/Nebo in the distance. By now we realized the rain was starting to fall and lightning and thunder were imminent. We took a few quick photos and headed out. Going down the ridge is quick and easy, which is good as we soon heard a few claps of thunder over by the Santaquin/Loafer area. We made quick time back down to the road. It stayed cloudy most of the way out, with a little rain but no lightning ever really was close.
Bald Mountain is one of the best "unknown" climbs in the Wasatch. Even without the great views, the climbing was quite fun. Maybe worst is just the long drive from the Salt Lake area. The hike took about five hours roundtrip, climbing about 2,000 feet in eight miles (roundtrip). With the long drive however from Salt Lake City, plan on a full day for this adventure.