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With shoes stained red from the blistering hot sandstone desert below, I stand, shivering, on a high-altitude ridge that plunges like a dragon’s tail from a glacier-carved summit. I scampered up this evergreen-hemmed cluster of 12,000-foot peaks from southwestern Utah’s desert. But there is nothing “Southwest” about the Tushar Mountains. A herd of shaggy-haired mountain goats laze on the rocky crown to the southeast, while wildflowers paint the slope to the east brilliant scarlet. I love the desert, but in August, it’s hard to beat escaping to the sky.
Distance: 8.7 miles or 10.7 (with Delano)
Time: 2 days
From Bullion Pasture trailhead
(1) Take the Bullion Pasture Trail (74) 1.3 miles south to a fork.
(2) Follow the South Fork Trail (72) to the Delano Peak campsites at mile 3.4. (Trailside raspberry patches fruit in August.)
(3) Optional: Head up the Delano Peak Trail (see “Bag a peak” below).
(4) Pick up the Pocket Trail (216) and walk 2 miles north to a junction.
(5) Veer west onto the Bullion Pasture Trail (74) and loop 2.1 miles to the trailhead.
Delano Peak (mile 3.4)
Set up a roomy basecamp in the pines beneath Delano Peak’s eastern flank (off the South Fork Trail). The South Fork River flows nearby, and fire-red Tushar paintbrush blooms in early August. If the site is taken, find a different social site in the eastern basin.
Bag a peak
Grab a summit pack and climb 12,175-foot Delano Peak on day two before the afternoon thunderstorms hit. Pick up the Delano Peak Trail and follow the southeast drainage a mile to the summit, the Tushars’ high point. Get 360-degree views, including Marysvale Basin (to the east) and 12,000-footers Mts. Belknap (north) and Holly (south). Mountain goats often congregate on Delano’s southeastern slopes.
Find an abandoned miner’s cabin just off the Pocket Trail near mile 3.9 on the itinerary without Delano (mile 5.8 with Delano). This remote lodge, nestled deep among a trifecta of 11,000-foot peaks, dates back to the 1800s. It was likely deserted when the ore supply dried up. Don’t venture inside the shaky dwelling.
Trailhead 38.403126, -112.397089; 23 miles south of Sevier off Beaver Creek Rd. Season July through September for snow-free trails Permits None Custom mapbit.do/BPmapDelanoPeak ($15) Contactfs.usda.gov/fishlakeTrip databackpacker.com/DelanoPeak
- State: UT
- City: Salt Lake City
- Distance: 0.0
- Land Type: National Forest