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Mount Baldy - Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness - Utah, United States

by steve625  
with a Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx
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Story:
Established in 1984 the Wilderness Preservation System designated 50,000 acres as the Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness.  True to all wilderness areas Pine Valley Mountain offers a more primitive backcountry experience.  No motorized vehicles or mechanical equipment are allowed in any wilderness areas.

Mount Baldy can be reached by any number of Dixie National Forest trails, all are ranked as strenuous / challenging and range in miles from 9 to 35.  I chose trail 3022 from the town of New Harmony to Anderson Valley.

Take I-15 exit 42 and travel west on hwy-144 to the town of New Harmony.  The road makes an "S" turn around the cemetery before entering the township.  At the stop sign for Main Street turn right (north) and proceed to the post office (one block).  Turn left (west) and proceed another block.  At this intersection is a wooden sign "New Harmony Trailhead 1 mile".  Proceed down the dirt road one mile to the sizable staging area.  An information sign, picnic tables, livestock pens and 3 entrance gates mark the area.  Not marked, the entrance gate for trail 3022 is left (east) of the information sign.

Primary an equestrian trail the Class 1 path is well marked and easy to follow.  Hiking along fence lines of private property several streams are crossed, some have wooden bridges, others have stepping stones.  Unless high water is present all are easy to cross.  The trail passes through several gates and soon turns uphill toward the rugged mountain side of Mount Baldy. 

The easy slope of the trail in the foothills of Mount Baldy is deceptive as to what lay ahead.  The ramp travels through burned trees next to a massive gulley on the left.  Devastated by forest fires, several years in a row, the area is starting to show signs of rebirth.  Beautiful wildflowers and new saplings are seen across the hillsides.  The foothills end and the path turns steep in a series of switchbacks.  As elevation is gained the views across the patchwork valley of farms, and the inspiring Kolob Canyons, is breathtaking.

As the ridge line is achieved, views into the next ravine is seen and I begin to appreciate the size and shear amount of rugged wilderness that surrounds me.  Waterfalls can be heard as spring runoff continues down these chasms of lava rock.  Breaking from the ridge line a more level line of travel is made around the head of the ravine.  Several more spring fed streams are traversed as the trail breaks around toward the backside of Mount Baldy. 

No summit trails exist on any of the maps I reviewed, yet I was hoping for a faint trail market by a cairn.  If one existed it was destroyed by the fire.  Breaking from the main trail I begin a simple Class 2 scramble up the ridge line toward Mount Baldy.  Here the true devastation of the forest fire is experienced.  Hiking through a burned out forest is not pleasant.  Patches of green still exist and I spooked a mule deer here and there, but the forest is sparse with animal life compared to other areas of comparable elevation. 

After three terrace of rocky peaks, dropping into forested saddles, hiking up burned out hillsides, the rocky summit point of Mount Baldy if reached.  Stunning views exist on most summits, but the distinctive red of Kolob Canyons in the afternoon sun, seen across valley, can't be described.  I took dozens of pictures, none captured the true beauty of the sight.  West Temple in Zion National Park and the distinctive triangle shape of Red Butte can all be seen to the East.

The springtime green of new growth makes the highland valley around Browse beautiful.  Snow still packs the high mountain peaks of Big Point looking south. West is the remaining rugged wilderness of Pine Valley Mountain.  I look forward to spending a lot of time here this summer as temperatures rise is the desert valleys of Zion National Park.


Tips:
Know Your Limits! Safely hiking wilderness areas depend on your own good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention to your surroundings. Your safety is your responsibility.

Plan Ahead: There is NO easy exit from Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness. Make sure to plan an alternate exit strategy in event of emergency.

Bug Spray! Fly's, nat's and mosquito's are common.

Elevation! You are hiking at 9,000 feet, respect this fact and pay attention to any altitude sickness. You can expect to be winded, but any unexplained severe headaches should cause you to seek lower elevation immediately.

This is a steep hike along an unmaintained trail. Side trails lead to lookout points of deep chasm's, keep away from the edge.

Water: 3 liter (82 degrees F) or water filtration system.**
**Streams are snow fed and may not be running year around.

Take plenty of energy snacks, GPS, Camera, Cell phone, TOPO map, compass, gloves, extra batteries, first aid kit, headlamp, knife, sunscreen, bug spray, matches, light sticks, emergency bivouac kit.


Tags:
peak bagging, Washington County, Wildnerness Area, primative
Photos: See all pictures and videos from Mount Baldy - Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness
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Trip Info
May 11, 2012
Trip Location: New Harmony, Utah, United States
Length: 11.4 miles
Duration: 9 hours
Activity: Hiking
Trip viewed 885 times
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