Too bad the masters of landscape painting weren't into backpacking, because there's a museum full of artistic inspiration to be had along the Pine Valley Mountain's 35-mile-long, 2-mile-high Summit Trail. That old roustabout Titian would have had a field day capturing the intimacy of its picture-perfect alpine meadows. And Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Church might have done their best work if they'd set an easel on one of its rocky promontories overlooking Zion National Park. The glowing shades of red, orange, and yellow, distant snowcapped mountains in Arizona, and eastern Utah glinting pure zinc white would challenge any artist.
For an artful but arduous weekend loop, climb 3,000 feet out of Pine Valley in 6 miles along the Whipple Trail to gain the ridge crest and track the Summit Ridge Trail to the southwest. Return to Pine Valley on the Brown's Point Trail. In all, it's a 17-mile hike that will occupy at least two days. Along the way you'll hike through a beautiful forest gallery of Englemann spruce, step across small streams dancing with rare native trout, and look down upon waves of red sandstone lapping at the mountain's base. Even the local fauna you'll see-from the blue grouse to the yellow-bellied marmot-seem to have fallen off of an artist's palette.
Where: 300 miles south of Salt Lake City near St. George. The trailhead is located in the Pine Valley Recreation Area, 4 miles east of Pine Valley.
Maps:Pine Valley Mountain Recreation Trail Map is available free at the phone number below.
Trail Info: St. George Interagency Visitor Center, (435) 688-3246.-Eric Hansen