Hike a gorgeous and high Utah mountain range that relatively few know about.
On Shelly Baldy's summit looking at Mount Baldy (left) and Mount Belknap (right), the Tushar Mountain's second highest peak after Delano Peak.
Location: Southern Utah - Fishlake National Forest out of Beaver.
Quick Summary (from Skyline/ Big John Flat trailhead on Forest Road #123, head northwest, ascend northeast ridge).
Difficulty: Easy - moderate Class 1, then moderate Class 2 scramble on stable talus ridge.
Coordinates: Trailhead = 38.35910 -112.39317. Summit = 38.36911 -112.42528
Trailhead location: The Skyline-Big John Flat Trailhead is located 21 miles east of Beaver, Utah. From Beaver travel east on UT-153 road for approximately 16.2 miles. Turn left onto the FR123 (Sunset Drive) for 0.3 miles. Keep left on FR123 and travel another 4.5 miles to the Trailhead. Forest Service Interactive Map
Maps/Apps: Fishlake National Forest - Beaver and Fillmore Ranger Districts map.
Date hiked: July 26, 2023
Geology: Shelly Baldy summit is Mount Baldy Rhyolite, an extrusive igneous fine-grained silica-rich rock.
Links: Mountain Forecast (weather) Fishlake National Forest
Descending Shelly Baldy's talus ridge looking toward the east and Delano Peak.
Topo Map and profile for Shelly Baldy Peak accessed from Big John Flat/Skyline Trail trailhead. (Thank-you Caltopo).
The Tushars: Ouiet, High, and Beautiful
We keep returning to the less-traveled Tushars because of the forest, wildflowers, the variety of peaks to hike and the spectacular ridge scenery. And it's so green! We previously hiked Delano Peak, and a loop including Delano and Mt. Holly where we shared the mountain with the mountain goats.
Copper Belt Peak was our original plan this trip, accessed along a beautiful ridgeline in the central Tushars, but we were blocked by a gate on the access road. We found out from a guy doing trail maintenance after finishing Shelly Baldy that there was still a snow slide blocking the road. Last winter (2022-23) saw record-breaking snowfalls in southern Utah.
It's believed that Tushar came from the Southern Paiute word "T-shar", meaning "white". Mt. Belknap and Mt. Baldy, two of its highest volcanic-rock summits gleam white from a distance.
Shelly Baldy is a fun peak and a not-too-difficult way to get stunning views of Belknap, Baldy and Delano. The hike is a combination of high-country creeks and waterfalls, meadows and forest, tundra and talus, and many wildflowers this July. The route is straightforward: you hike the Blue Lake Trail to its closest point near Shelly Baldy's northeast ridge and jump off to head cross-country towards it, having to negotiate a large talus field before embarking on a straight-up route on its ridge. It's a short climb on stable talus - not exposed - to the summit cairn, sign and mailbox that acts as a summit register.
That night we stayed in the Mahogany Cove Campground, camping out of the back of our truck. We had driven up Forest Road 123 toward the trailhead the day before, but found all of the camping areas filled with RV's. The 275-mile Paiute ATV Trail, a network of trails and dirt roads runs through the Tushars. It ties together historic mining and native American sites, Mormon heritage sites, state parks and National Forests.
Copper Belt Peak is still on our list. If we can't access it from Beaver, we can hopefully get to it from Marysvale, to the east.
In my Crossfit "box" (term affectionately used by Crossfitters to describe their gym which contains barbells, racks, rowers, jump ropes, kettlebells, etc.), a photo shows two athletes wearing shirts with the words "Comfort Kills." Intrigued, I read up on this "attitude." Forceful words, but they are true. We must go beyond our limits, our comfort zone. Going beyond what we think we can withstand, taking on risks in order to grow.
"Our goal should not be to constantly remain in a sheltered place. Rather, in all circumstances have the ability to find solace." --Savage Gentleman website.
I will keep on reminding myself.
Growth and change happens in the extremes - Never Stop Climbing Mountains!
Skyline/Big John Flat Trailhead just on FR 123.
Some cool stuff on the trail.
Griffith Creek near trailhead.
Poison Creek - cold water and a bit tricky to cross!
On the Skyline Trail walking out of the forest into higher meadows.
Still on Skyline: first view of Shelly Baldy Peak with the two small snow patches near its summit.
Intersection of Skyline Trail with Blue Lake Trail. From here we headed north (right) onto Blue Lake Trail.
Blue Lake Trail: finding a point closest to Shelly Baldy's (peak with snow on it) ridge on the right.
Looking for the best cut-off point from Blue Lake Trail.
Looks like we found it. There's that big mound of talus to get over before heading up Shelly Baldy's northeast ridge. I think you could continue ascending Blue Lake Trail a little further and get off the trail to walk through the forest on the right and avoid so much of the talus.
Faint trail through edge of forest.
Hill of talus before reaching ridge.
Finally on steep, slippery ridge. Fred upper center.
Mid-way up ridge looking at Mount Baldy, Tushar's third highest peak at 12,122'.
At Shelly Baldy summit. Piece of cake!
Looking west toward Mineral Mountains north of Beaver, Utah.
On summit: Mount Baldy (left) and Mount Belknap (right). You can see why "Tushar" may have come from "T-shar," the Southern Paiutes' word for "white."
Never tire of this beautiful forest.
Cunningham, C.G, et. al. 1983. Geologic map of the Tushar Mountains and adjoining areas, Marysvale volcanic field, Utah.
Sue and Fred
About this blog
Exploration documentaries – "explorumentaries" list trip stats and highlights of each hike or bike ride, often with some interesting history or geology. Years ago, I wrote these for friends and family to let them know what my husband, Fred and I were up to on weekends, and also to showcase the incredible land of the west.
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