Thousand Lake Mountain - Flat Top


Still right here.
Jan 17, 2012
Late on Saturday evening I knew that if I didn't make plans right then to go hiking the next day that I would likely spend Sunday at home regretting not getting out. I wanted to keep up my streak of strenuous hikes from the past couple of weekends. While panning around a topo map looking for high-elevation trails I noticed several on Flat Top on Thousand Lake Mountain. It was a little farther than I wanted to drive, but after checking for nearby geocaches and seeing that the one at the high point hadn't been found in four years, my mind was made up. I left home early the next morning and, after a 2.5-hour drive, I was parked near Snow Lake and ready to hike. I wanted to make this a loop hike so I began by walking the road south for two miles before picking up the trail up the southeast side of the mountain from Wiff's Pasture.

Parked near Snow Lake

Walking south along the road

Wild roses

Hazy Henry Mountains

I'd been worried that the trail would be difficult to discern, but that turned out to be unfounded because it appeared to be traveled fairly regularly by cattle. It was mostly forested with a couple of steep and rocky sections. Unfortunately, once reaching Flat Top, the views into the valleys below were mostly blocked by trees.

Start of the trail up the southeast side of Thousand Lake Mountain

Boulder and Torrey on the trail

Cairn along the trail

Beginning of the steep, rocky portion of trail

Torrey and Boulder

Fence across the trail

Blazed tree on the trail

Extremely steep trail near the top

View over Capitol Reef toward the Henrys

After passing through a short wooded section it was an easy walk through a large, open meadow to the high point at 11,306'--a whopping 11' lower than its counterpart on Boulder Mountain that I visited just a month earlier. As I approached the summit a marmot chirped at me, and most of the hilltop was covered in marmot crap. A mailbox was attached to an old survey tower at the high point. Inside were two glass jars that served as summit registers, one of which I signed before walking over to the nearby geocache. I found it in good condition and signed the logbook four years and 23 days after the last finder.

Appropriately-named Flat Top

Trail and blazed tree

Approaching the high point of Thousand Lake Mountain

Marmot guarding the high point

Mailbox and survey tower at the high point

Survey marker

Boulder and Torrey at the summit

Geocache near the summit that hadn't been found in four years

Panorama from the summit showing the Henry Mountains and Boulder Mountain

I took a 30-minute break near the geocache and ate lunch. Then, hiking northeast, I hoped to pick up the trail leading down to Snow Lake, but the trees were thick with brush and fallen timber and I had to zig-zag around the worst of it for 20 minutes before finally gaining the trail. The descent was steep and loose at first, having been freshly churned by a herd of cattle being driven off Flat Top about 15 minutes ahead of me. I heard them through the trees but never saw them until I reached the edge of the plateau and could see the cows at Snow Lake. The views into the desert were a little better at the top of this trail.

Walking into the trees toward the Snow Lake trail

Finally gained the trail after 20 minutes of bushwhacking and log-hopping

Cattle drive at Snow Lake

Little Black Mountains

Top of the trail to Snow Lake

View over Capitol Reef toward the Henrys

GWT sign

Sign at the bottom of the trail

When I got to Snow Lake I let the dogs frolic in the water before walking over to the Jeep. The total hiking distance was about six miles with 1,000' elevation gain/loss. There were a couple more geocaches that I wanted to find, and each one was about 1/2-mile drive off the main road to nice overlooks of the valleys to the north, east, and south. It more than made up for the lack of views from the edge of Flat Top.

Torrey and Boulder cooling off in Snow Lake

Hike stats

Northern Capitol Reef

Central Capitol Reef

Jailhouse Rock

Panorama from Sulphur Spring near Wiff's Pasture

Torrey (the town, not the dog)

Photo Gallery: Thousand Lake Mountain - Flat Top
GPS Track and Photo Waypoints:
[ Google Earth KMZ ] [ Gmap4 Satellite ] [ Gmap4 Topo ]

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Great report and route Dennis. Question: Do you keep the two dogs on leash due to the cows?
Great report and route Dennis. Question: Do you keep the two dogs on leash due to the cows?
Boulder tends to wander off a little too far (especially in the thick pines), and if I let them both off-leash for the entire hike they'd deplete my water too quickly--there's zero water on this route except at the beginning/end at Snow Lake.
Nice looking area up there. I've considered backpacking up there from Torrey going up Sand Creek and the GWT there.

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