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Thread: Lewiston Peak and Flat Top Mountain, Oquirrh Mountains, Utah, Oct. 6, 2013 (!)

  1. #1

    Lewiston Peak and Flat Top Mountain, Oquirrh Mountains, Utah, Oct. 6, 2013 (!)

    No, the title is not a typo, I'm finally posting this trip report from a hike I did last October! Since then I've retired and moved away from Utah (though I'm actually visiting in Utah at the moment), among other things...

    I wouldn't have bothered to post this at all, except that there don't seem to be many recent reports out there that cover these peaks. So hopefully this will be of use to someone. If anyone has any updates or corrections, please share them in a reply, thanks!

    ===========================================

    Lewiston Peak (10,411’) and Flat Top Mountain (10,620’), Oquirrh Mountains, Utah, October 6, 2013.

    In my search for less-visited high peaks to consider as goals, I learned of these Oquirrh peaks. Most of the information I found online focused on access difficulties, with some reports indicating that most of the land up there was private property and visitors were unwelcome. Then I found this detailed July 2013 report that made the situation look brighter:

    http://www.summitpost.org/view_objec..._post=4&page=0

    I used this as my primary reference for the outing, so this report will frequently refer to it.

    The first step is to drive to Ophir. I approached it from the north, and found the turnoff from Highway 73 to be well-marked (and between mileposts 4 and 5). To me, it seemed there was an excessive number of “no this” and “no that” signs beginning the moment I turned off the highway to drive up Ophir Canyon. I didn’t stop in town but continued up the canyon to find the trailhead.

    Before reaching the trailhead turnoff as described in the earlier report, you’ll pass this sign:



    Basically, turning here would provide an alternative but longer road to the 8000’ saddle. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to check it out, but I wonder if that section of the road is in better shape than the road I travelled from the trailhead to the saddle? Maybe someone will find out and post a reply here!

    Soon after, I found the “Trail Head Parking” sign described in the linked report. By my odometer, it was 4.7 miles from Highway 73. Turn right here; the trailhead will be on your left .3 mile up the road. There’s a large gravel parking area and an information kiosk. Evidently the trail system up here (namely this, the “Lion Hill Loop Trail”) was developed by the county; the kiosk signs prominently mention “TooeleCountyTrails.com.” On the map at the kiosk, the 8000’ saddle is called “Mercur Overlook.”





    Since I was in the Xterra I tried to drive up to the saddle. The road is rough and rocky but not anything out of the ordinary for the mountains. I think the report linked above overstates the difficulty, but you would need a high clearance 4WD even in good conditions. One mile above the trailhead parking area is a fork in the road. Continue up the right fork (the left fork is signed for “Halls Basin”).

    About .4 mile past the fork is a short, steep section. This day it was also wet and very muddy, a result of being saturated by snow runoff. I made a half-hearted effort at it, but decided to park in a turnaround area at the base of it. It looked like plenty of others have given up here! This left me with about .9 mile to walk to the saddle.

    I have to mention that I had a late night before this (Real Salt Lake game plus subsequent traffic and drive) and did not get up until about 7:30 AM…and that was at my home in Layton! Consider I had to travel a ways to my starting point and you can see why my hike did not begin until 11:42 AM.

    After hiking past the tough bit, I found the road was pretty good for a while, but there were varying amounts of slick mud, and nearer the saddle there were some very deep erosion ruts. Along the way, I passed a small brown sign reading “Leaving Public Lands.” I reached the saddle (aka, Mercur Overlook) at 12:15.

    As explained in the linked report, from here, turn left and walk up a dirt road that leads to a small clearing/turnaround. On the way up this road, I passed this sign:



    I thought this was significant, given the access questions regarding this route! Once you reach the end of the road, a foot/equestrian trail takes off up the slope. The beginning of the trail is marked with some rocks and, this day, a meadow muffin:





    About five minutes up the trail, you’ll encounter the important hairpin turn mentioned in the linked report. I did not see the large cairn they built, but there was a line of rocks to help steer you the correct direction:



    Based on their experience, I was concerned about following the trail that switchbacks up the slope. But this turned out to be easy because it had recently been well trampled. Obviously there had been horse traffic, and I encountered a pair of locals descending it on horseback. Since they’d been up to where I wanted to go, I just followed their well-beaten path. However, without that advantage I could see the potential for confusion: there are a number of other trails up there. But I sense they would all eventually take you to the right place. As I hiked up this section, I could see (and hear) several ATV’s on the loop road:



    The trail led me to the shoulder of a hill. Per my GPS, this was at 9,012’, N 40 21 22.0 W 112 12 41.7 (WGS 84). While I was taking a break here, a bright yellow single-engine propeller plane droned by, crossing over the clearing ahead of me. An obvious trail continues from here to the large flat rock cited in the linked report. From that point, I utilized what they marked on their photo as the “new route.” Locate that trail by walking past the large flat rock and then past a cairn. The large flat rock and the cairn beyond it are visible in the photo below:



    This trail was clear and easy to follow. It leads uphill for a while, wrapping around the high point. Then, as it enters the trees, it drops then levels off. I found about 2-3 inches of snow on this shady part of the trail. There was also a set of boot tracks in the snow, heading up and down, and I guessed they weren’t much more than a day old. There were also quite a few invisible spider webs across the trail. I scared up some game birds as I walked through these woods. Eventually, the trail went steeply uphill toward the 9600’ saddle. As you approach the saddle and the fuel/water cache, some tree trunks that have been painted orange. (Note the paint is only visible while heading uphill):



    I reached the cache at about 2:35 PM and took a short break. At least one of the five-gallon fuel containers was marked “water." There were also a couple of old sleeping pads, a large stack of firewood, and some log sections that serve as chairs. As I left the cache, I came across the first of three inscribed rocks I would find on this hike:



    From the cache, the route simply continues up the west ridge of Lewiston. The linked report advises staying on the ridge or just to the left of it. Since there was some snow on the ridge, I instead tended to be either on the ridge or to the right of it. Their report indicates they were sometimes as much as 20 meters from the ridgetop. Maybe there is a use trail there but it was not visible to me due to snow. On my way up, I occasionally saw tracks left by my recent predecessor on this route. Along here, I really began to notice a certain bush with very sharp thorns on it. It was annoying enough to keep being poked through my hiking pants, but was even worse if I wasn’t paying attention and stuck my hand in it:



    I didn’t make note of the time I reached the summit of Lewiston Peak. It was late enough that I barely paused and took no pictures, but headed right down the steep north slope on my way to Flat Top. This slope had 6-8” of snow on it, which was the deepest unavoidable snow I had to deal with all day. I made use of the tracks left by the other recent climber. Once off this slope, I found a fairly obvious use trail along the west (left) side of the ridge heading toward Flat Top. Later, as I reached the point where the ridge curves from north to northeast, I found another inscribed rock in the middle of the use trail:



    From there, the route continues northeast to the summit. Again, I’m not sure if there’s much of a use trail or where exactly it might be; I was trying to avoid the deeper snow so along this stretch I was often right on the ridge. At 4:40 PM (!) I arrived on Flat Top’s summit. The apparently military-surplus weather station was up there, though I get the sense it’s inoperative. There’s a register in a mailbox, and I saw that Greg Slayden (“peakbagger.com webmaster”) had been there the day before...

    For a change I was on a summit and the winds weren’t blowing a gale, but now it was too late in the day for me to stay long! I signed the register, took some photos, filmed two panorama videos from different spots, and just enjoyed the views for a few minutes, then it was time to go:









    Shortly after departing the summit, I came across a third inscribed rock up on the ridge:



    I hoofed it back to Lewiston Peak, wishing or hoping there was a bypass as I sure didn’t want to climb back over it. Right at the base of the north slope I had descended earlier, I spotted a use trail taking off to the right; it was fairly obvious thanks to deer tracks in the snow. I tried it and found it climbed up slightly and led me right back to Lewiston’s west ridge. I believe this is the same trail mentioned in the “Getting down” section of the linked report.

    Descending the ridge, I found a use trail that hadn’t been so obvious when ascending. I made it back to the fuel/water cache at 6:30 PM. I had about an hour of daylight left. After a very quick break there, I followed my ascent route back with no problems. The spiders had been busy in my absence: I was again running into their webs across the trail. I made it down to the clearing above the 8000’ saddle just as it was getting dark, so it was time to dig out the headlamp for the hike down the road.

    The road was just as muddy as it had been earlier, and all the ATV traffic was long gone. I didn’t make note of exactly what time I arrived at the Xterra but it was a little after 8:00. No one was at the trailhead parking area as I drove down, and in fact there was little sign of life until I got back out to the highway.

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  3. #2
    Adventurer at Large! BruteForce's Avatar
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    Great report. I've made that peak myself, after many, many failed attempts to find a route. The Ophir trail was put in about 2 years after I first attempted to reach the summit.
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  4. #3
    Thanks for the report and photos. In March this year, a friend and I skied up to Flat Top. We drove up Cedar Valley road as far as possible then began hiking. After hiking for a couple miles, we were finally able to put the skis on and skinned the rest of the way. We couldn't drive past a locked gate at about 6000' so it was quite an ascent. The register at the summit hadn't been signed since November so we figured we were probably the only ones up there all winter. That was my first and only summit in the Oquirrhs but we plan to go back for more this year.

  5. #4
    Thanks. Those peaks have been on my to-do list for years. Maybe now I'll knock them out.

  6. #5
    Just a note for anyone thinking of attempting Lewiston (and maybe Flat Top too)... A July 2016 note on the original summitpost.org route description indicates the route is again signed as being on private property...

    http://www.summitpost.org/view_object.php?object_id=855757&confirm_post=4&pa ge=0

    Name:  Capture.JPG
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Size:  27.2 KB

  7. #6
    Adventurer at Large! BruteForce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Candace66 View Post
    Just a note for anyone thinking of attempting Lewiston (and maybe Flat Top too)... A July 2016 note on the original summitpost.org route description indicates the route is again signed as being on private property...

    http://www.summitpost.org/view_object.php?object_id=855757&confirm_post=4&pa ge=0

    Name:  Capture.JPG
Views: 167
Size:  27.2 KB
    Correct. The Ault family owns that entire mountain top and are known to horseback to the ridgeline.
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  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Candace66 View Post
    Just a note for anyone thinking of attempting Lewiston (and maybe Flat Top too)... A July 2016 note on the original summitpost.org route description indicates the route is again signed as being on private property...

    http://www.summitpost.org/view_object.php?object_id=855757&confirm_post=4&pa ge=0

    Name:  Capture.JPG
Views: 167
Size:  27.2 KB
    SP page for Flat Top as of September 2016:

    http://www.summitpost.org/flat-top-m...3458#chapter_4


    Name:  Flat top.jpg
Views: 152
Size:  98.2 KB
    Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.

  9. #8
    Interesting that so much land up there is their private property. Yet as you can see in my original report, I did not walk past any private property signs in 2013.

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