Critique the Route: Deseret Hiking Route

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LarryBoy

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Hello BCP'ers!

I'm hard at work planning next year's hike. Hoping to do a Mexico-to-Canada special, but this time through Arizona, Utah, and Idaho. From the Mexican border to the UT border, my route follows the Arizona Trail. From Ketchum northward, it follows the Idaho Centennial Trail. But between the AZT Stateline Trailhead and Ketchum, there's no existing long-distance hiking route in place.

Soooo... here's my tentative route. It loosely follows the Great Western Trail, but the GWT is multi-use and doesn't always take the best route from a hiking standpoint. So sometimes it follows the GWT, sometimes it doesn't. The goal is to maximize scenic value and stay high on ridges, as much as possible without taking routes that are unnecessarily circuitous. This hike will be long enough as it is!

BCP is probably the best brain trust out there when it comes to the intermountain west. Your comments/suggestions would be appreciated!

In addition to anything anyone wants to opine on, I've got a few specific questions, and more will come up as the planning process continues:
  • Snake River Plain: There are plenty of water sources (wells, cisterns, reservoirs) along the route, but I have not been able to confirm whether of them actually have water. Any firsthand knowledge?
  • Fort Hall Reservation: I believe my route stays on publically accessible roads for the entirety of its journey through the reservation - but can anyone confirm, or else offer an alternative?
  • Diamond Fork area: Does anyone know if there is a trail down Third Water between Rays Valley Road and the hot springs? Otherwise I'd have to follow Rays Valley Road north to Fifth Water and then back downstream to the hot springs.
  • Chuckwagon General Store in Torrey: Is the selection good enough to do a 7-8 day resupply out of, or would it be best to hitch to the Food Town in Loa?
  • Boulder Mountain: Does the trail down from Donkey Point to the NE actually exist? The quads says it exists, but I have my doubts...
  • Provo Peak Area: does the mapped trail actually exist?
Note - I know the view looks kind of messy by default. To make things easier to look at, view the map in Caltopo itself and uncheck the "markers" box on the left side. That should leave just the lines and look much cleaner/easier to read. There are a few alternates mapped in a couple places (just the markers), but the line outlines the main route I plan to travel.

I'd appreciate any commentary anyone can offer... thanks!
 

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Titans

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Nice! I will send you a private message about the food stores in Torrey vs Loa. We brought a week supply into Torrey and drove out of the way to Loa to resupply for a week before camping off Burr trail and driving to Cedar Mesa. The Torrey store does have many things, but I'm not sure exactly what you like to get. I believe I saw a sign inside the Torrey store, which said they closed Nov25 temporarily for the season, so just after Thanksgiving. I'm not sure when they re-open in 2019. If we return in a few weeks, we would need to go to Loa.
 

WasatchWill

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Here's the best I can give you regarding the latter Q's:

  • Diamond Fork area: Does anyone know if there is a trail down Third Water between Rays Valley Road and the hot springs? Otherwise I'd have to follow Rays Valley Road north to Fifth Water and then back downstream to the hot springs. Looks like some game trails that come and go down through 3rd water, maybe some social trails that go, but certainly doesn't look like anything that's a sure thing. Could involve some bushwhacks in sections. Who knows what the fence is like across the creek down there too. Looks likes that's something that you could just see if it goes when you get there, and if not...not much distance to back track and catch to road again up to 5th.
  • Chuckwagon General Store in Torrey: Is the selection good enough to do a 7-8 day resupply out of, or would it be best to hitch to the Food Town in Loa? You can certainly do a resupply of stuff like ramen, sausage, jerky, cheeses, cup-o-noodles, apples, trail mix, snacks, dried fruit, etc...I think you'd be fine there...it's just much pricier. You'd definitely have more selection and more bang for your book at Royal's in Loa, but might not be worth the savings if you really want to stick closer to the GWT through that area? I do have in-laws in Torrey that might be able to facilitate a ride out there if desired. @JulieKT lives down there too. Who knows...maybe I'd be down there when you pass through?
  • Boulder Mountain: Does the trail down from Donkey Point to the NE actually exist? The quads says it exists, but I have my doubts...As you can see in the sat imagery, it doesn't look like anything developed down off that corner, but it also doesn't look like anything that would be too troublesome to do cross country following your route off the high plateau down to the lower lakes. In fact, upon closer look, it does look like there's something with some small switch backs dropping off the plateau a stone's throw north of your line. Maybe you could then just skirt the rock slide there all the way down to Green Lake. As as you probably have experience with, those quad tracks aren't always accurate to the real live trails through some of those areas and can be off by dozens to even a hundred+ feet in places. Sometimes trails get re-routed from how they were before too.
  • Provo Peak Area: does the mapped trail actually exist? Wish I could say I was familiar with that back/east side of Provo Peak myself, but I can't. Again...judging by the sat imagery, trails might peter out there for that section between Bartholomew Canyon and Windy Pass, but might not be too terribly difficult to navigate your way through there. What is a certain way is to up Pole Heaven out of Hobble, and then take the Squaw Peak Road up/down to the top of Little Rock Canyon (just north of Provo's Rock Canyon). There a trail that shoots off the eastern side of the road down through a meadow, cuts through Hope Campground, then continues down through Pole Canyon to the BST which will then drop you down at Bridal Veil. From there you can head down through Nunns Park, down the parkway trail to Canyon Glen Park, then pop up to Johnson Hole and take the GWT there across the western face of Timp over to Timpooneke. You wouldn't have to gain and drop so much elevation that way, still get some great views and pass by a couple good water sources, and you'd avoid the huge crowds on the Aspen Grove/Timpooneke trails along with avoiding a run across the Provo Canyon highway and all the traffic and pavement walking to get up to Sundance. Of course, if you really want to get that scenery of Primrose Cirque, Timp Basin, and all that, you could take the parkway trail from Bridal Veil up to Vivian Park and rejoin your original route there. -- I could potentially be able to help stage or meet you with any sort of cache you may desire in this section.
 
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WasatchWill

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Nice! I will send you a private message about the food stores in Torrey vs Loa. We brought a week supply into Torrey and drove out of the way to Loa to resupply for a week before camping off Burr trail and driving to Cedar Mesa. The Torrey store does have many things, but I'm not sure exactly what you like to get. I believe I saw a sign inside the Torrey store, which said they closed Nov25 temporarily for the season, so just after Thanksgiving. I'm not sure when they re-open in 2019. If we return in a few weeks, we would need to go to Loa.
Chuckwagon usually opens up again sometime in mid to late February.
 

LarryBoy

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Looks like some game trails that come and go down through 3rd water, maybe some social trails that go, but certainly doesn't look like anything that's a sure thing. Could involve some bushwhacks in sections. Who knows what the fence is like across the creek down there too. Looks likes that's something that you could just see if it goes when you get there, and if not...not much distance to back track and catch to road again up to 5th.


Yeah I was looking at the same sat imagery... thankfully I'm traveling south to north thru there so I don't have to do much backtracking if the route down 3rd water doesn't go. It would be much more elegant that going all the way up to fifth water and going south (nothing is worse than going in the wrong compass direction on a thru hike) to the hot springs. Buuuut... such is life!

General Store in Torrey: Is the selection good enough to do a 7-8 day resupply out of, or would it be best to hitch to the Food Town in Loa? You can certainly do a resupply of stuff like ramen, sausage, jerky, cheeses, cup-o-noodles, apples, trail mix, snacks, dried fruit, etc...I think you'd be fine there...it's just much pricier. You'd definitely have more selection and more bang for your book at Royal's in Loa, but might not be worth the savings if you really want to stick closer to the GWT through that area? I do have in-laws in Torrey that might be able to facilitate a ride out there if desired. @JulieKT lives down there too. Who knows...maybe I'd be down there when you pass through?


Based on multiple people's feedback, it sounds like Loa is the best bet - like you said, price and selection is much better. The only issue is I have to go through Bicknell and Lyman on the way there, which means that it's more likely that I'll have to string two, three rides together to get there. If anyone's interested in running me around the Fremont Valley in exchange for dinner and tales of adventure, that would be lovely... but certainly not necessary. I've done a lottttt of hitchhiking in my time :)

Does the trail down from Donkey Point to the NE actually exist? The quads says it exists, but I have my doubts...As you can see in the sat imagery, it doesn't look like anything developed down off that corner, but it also doesn't look like anything that would be too troublesome to do cross country following your route off the high plateau down to the lower lakes. In fact, upon closer look, it does look like there's something with some small switch backs dropping off the plateau a stone's throw north of your line. Maybe you could then just skirt the rock slide there all the way down to Green Lake. As as you probably have experience with, those quad tracks aren't always accurate to the real live trails through some of those areas and can be off by dozens to even a hundred+ feet in places. Sometimes trails get re-routed from how they were before too.


Another member messaged me offline on this... sounds like it does exist, but might be in rough shape. Fortunately there are a few alternatives in the area. And yes, I'm continually frustrated by the flat-out inaccuracy of these old topo maps. Yet another program that hasn't kept up with the times. Yay budget cuts!

does the mapped trail actually exist? Wish I could say I was familiar with that back/east side of Provo Peak myself, but I can't. Again...judging by the sat imagery, trails might peter out there for that section between Bartholomew Canyon and Windy Pass, but might not be too terribly difficult to navigate your way through there. What is a certain way is to up Pole Heaven out of Hobble, and then take the Squaw Peak Road up/down to the top of Little Rock Canyon (just north of Provo's Rock Canyon). There a trail that shoots off the eastern side of the road down through a meadow, cuts through Hope Campground, then continues down through Pole Canyon to the BST which will then drop you down at Bridal Veil. From there you can head down through Nunns Park, down the parkway trail to Canyon Glen Park, then pop up to Johnson Hole and take the GWT there across the western face of Timp over to Timpooneke. You wouldn't have to gain and drop so much elevation that way, still get some great views and pass by a couple good water sources, and you'd avoid the huge crowds on the Aspen Grove/Timpooneke trails along with avoiding a run across the Provo Canyon highway and all the traffic and pavement walking to get up to Sundance. Of course, if you really want to get that scenery of Primrose Cirque, Timp Basin, and all that, you could take the parkway trail from Bridal Veil up to Vivian Park and rejoin your original route there. -- I could potentially be able to help stage or meet you with any sort of cache you may desire in this section.
Oh my goodness. I can't tell you how long I looked and looked and looked for a good route through that area. And then, boom, you come up with it right away. Thank you so much. In fact, for some more scenic potential, I can even follow the ridgeline north from Camel Pass to Provo Peak, and then down the standard west face route where it rejoins the route you outlined. That's just terrific. Thank you so much. It's a permutation I just didn't "see".
 

LarryBoy

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Nice! I will send you a private message about the food stores in Torrey vs Loa. We brought a week supply into Torrey and drove out of the way to Loa to resupply for a week before camping off Burr trail and driving to Cedar Mesa. The Torrey store does have many things, but I'm not sure exactly what you like to get. I believe I saw a sign inside the Torrey store, which said they closed Nov25 temporarily for the season, so just after Thanksgiving. I'm not sure when they re-open in 2019. If we return in a few weeks, we would need to go to Loa.
Think I'll probably head into Loa. Anyone have diner/restuarant recommendations for a hungry hiker in Loa? I don't think I've ever stopped there except just for gas. Always went to Torrey for food before...
 

WasatchWill

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Think I'll probably head into Loa. Anyone have diner/restuarant recommendations for a hungry hiker in Loa? I don't think I've ever stopped there except just for gas. Always went to Torrey for food before...
For all the times I've been through there, I only know of the Country Cafe and the pizza place at Snuggle Inn. I've been to the pizza place and it wasn't bad. I've been meaning to try out the Country Cafe too because they're supposedly really good, but they've had odd/limited hours in the past. Then there is the deli at the Royals market. Years ago there was a drive in burger joint, but it's been closed for a long time now.

- Response from my phone -
 

JulieKT

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@LarryBoy If I'm in town when you do your trip I can give you a lift to Loa. And if not, I might be able to find someone else who wouldn't mind. It will definitely be cheaper to do a big resupply at Royals, and there's more selection there too.

Yes, there's a trail down from Donkey Point, but I'm also pretty sure it'll be rough. You can always call the Fremont River Ranger District in Loa to see if anyone there has recent intel. I'll ask around locally to see if anyone's been up on it sometime this year.
 

JulieKT

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@LarryBoy One friend had this to say about the trail down from Donkey. They did it this summer:

"It’s a little skittery for a short section but I think most active folks could do it especially if they’re using hiking poles. But it might have someone who has poor balance at the edges of her comfort zone."
 

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LarryBoy

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@LarryBoy One friend had this to say about the trail down from Donkey. They did it this summer:

"It’s a little skittery for a short section but I think most active folks could do it especially if they’re using hiking poles. But it might have someone who has poor balance at the edges of her comfort zone."
Ah, beautiful, thank you. I'm really looking forward to that section, past all those lakes below the rim of Boulder Mtn.

And yes, when it comes to poles, I'm a total quadruped.
 

JulieKT

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Ah, beautiful, thank you. I'm really looking forward to that section, past all those lakes below the rim of Boulder Mtn.

And yes, when it comes to poles, I'm a total quadruped.
It's one of my favorite areas of the mountain. Blind Lake is just beautiful. It's a lot more crowded in that general area in recent years, a lot more people now seem go up to fish the lakes or camp, but I doubt you'll see a soul coming down from Donkey till you're right at the lakes and then on the road.
 

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