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Backpacker Magazine – October 1998

Utah's Lonely Deseret Peak Wilderness

Deseret Peak Wilderness has everything the popular Wasatch Range does, except the crowds.

by: Eric Hansen

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QUICK TAKE: Deseret Peak Wilderness, UT

DRIVE TIME: The Deseret Peak Wilderness Area is 47 miles (1 hour) southwest of Salt Lake City.

THE WAY: Take I-80 for 20 miles west, and exit at UT 36 south. Go 3.5 miles to UT 138 west, which you follow for 11 miles into Grantsville. A sign on the west side of Grantsville directs you to the South and North Willow Canyon areas. Turn left at the sign and go south 5 miles to a signed turnoff for South Willow Canyon (Mill Fork trailhead).

TRAILS: There are 24 miles of maintained hiking trails in the 25,000-acre wilderness.

ELEVATION: Ranges from 5,600 feet at the mouth of Antelope Canyon to 11,031 feet atop Deseret Peak.

CAN'T MISS: The views from Deseret Peak take in four states. Also, luxuriant meadows and aspen groves on the Mill Fork strike a cool, green contrast to the salt plains below.

CROWD CONTROL: Expect to see a few peakbaggers on the Deseret Peak loop on summer weekends. Camping spots on spur ridges or side trails are quiet. Solitude rules on the Bear Fork Trail. Deer-hunting season is in late October.

PIT STOP: Robin's in Grantsville is a great place for milkshakes.

WALK SOFTLY: Deseret's sensitive meadows deserve a break. Camp and hike on gravelly or rocky surfaces that can handle the wear.

MAPS AND GUIDES: The USGS 7.5-minute quads covering the wilderness include: Deseret Peak East, Deseret Peak West, North Willow Canyon, and Salt Mountain. Available through MapLink at (800) 962-1394.

MORE INFORMATION: Contact the public-land information center located in the map department at the REI store in Salt Lake City during afternoons and evenings, Wednesday through Sunday; (801) 466-6411. Or contact the Salt Lake Ranger District, Wasatch-Cache National Forest, 6944 S. 3000 E., Salt Lake City, UT 84121; (801) 943-1794.

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