Thousand Lake Mountain – Flat Top

Late on Saturday evening I knew that if I didn’t make plans right then to go hiking the next day that I would likely spend Sunday at home regretting not getting out. I wanted to keep up my streak of strenuous hikes from the past couple of weekends. While panning around a topo map looking for high-elevation trails I noticed several on Flat Top on Thousand Lake Mountain. It was a little farther than I wanted to drive, but after checking for nearby geocaches and seeing that the one at the high point hadn’t been found in four years, my mind was made up. I left home early the next morning and, after a 2.5-hour drive, I was parked near Snow Lake and ready to hike. I wanted to make this a loop hike so I began by walking the road south for two miles before picking up the trail up the southeast side of the mountain from Wiff’s Pasture.

Parked near Snow Lake
Parked near Snow Lake

Walking south along the road
Walking south along the road

Wild roses
Wild roses

Hazy Henry Mountains
Hazy Henry Mountains

I’d been worried that the trail would be difficult to discern, but that turned out to be unfounded because it appeared to be traveled fairly regularly by cattle. It was mostly forested with a couple of steep and rocky sections. Unfortunately, once reaching Flat Top, the views into the valleys below were mostly blocked by trees.

Start of the trail up the southeast side of Thousand Lake Mountain
Start of the trail up the southeast side of Thousand Lake Mountain

Boulder and Torrey on the trail
Boulder and Torrey on the trail

Cairn along the trail
Cairn along the trail

Beginning of the steep, rocky portion of trail
Beginning of the steep, rocky portion of trail

Torrey and Boulder
Torrey and Boulder

Fence across the trail
Fence across the trail

Blazed tree on the trail
Blazed tree on the trail

Extremely steep trail near the top
Extremely steep trail near the top

View over Capitol Reef toward the Henrys
View over Capitol Reef toward the Henrys

After passing through a short wooded section it was an easy walk through a large, open meadow to the high point at 11,306′–a whopping 11′ lower than its counterpart on Boulder Mountain that I visited just a month earlier. As I approached the summit a marmot chirped at me, and most of the hilltop was covered in marmot crap. A mailbox was attached to an old survey tower at the high point. Inside were two glass jars that served as summit registers, one of which I signed before walking over to the nearby geocache. I found it in good condition and signed the logbook four years and 23 days after the last finder.

Appropriately-named Flat Top
Appropriately-named Flat Top

Trail and blazed tree
Trail and blazed tree

Approaching the high point of Thousand Lake Mountain
Approaching the high point of Thousand Lake Mountain

Marmot guarding the high point
Marmot guarding the high point

Mailbox and survey tower at the high point
Mailbox and survey tower at the high point

Survey marker
Survey marker

Boulder and Torrey at the summit
Boulder and Torrey at the summit

Geocache near the summit that hadn’t been found in four years
Geocache near the summit that hadn't been found in four years

Panorama from the summit showing the Henry Mountains and Boulder Mountain
Panorama from the summit showing the Henry Mountains and Boulder Mountain

I took a 30-minute break near the geocache and ate lunch. Then, hiking northeast, I hoped to pick up the trail leading down to Snow Lake, but the trees were thick with brush and fallen timber and I had to zig-zag around the worst of it for 20 minutes before finally gaining the trail. The descent was steep and loose at first, having been freshly churned by a herd of cattle being driven off Flat Top about 15 minutes ahead of me. I heard them through the trees but never saw them until I reached the edge of the plateau and could see the cows at Snow Lake. The views into the desert were a little better at the top of this trail.

Walking into the trees toward the Snow Lake trail
Walking into the trees toward the Snow Lake trail

Finally gained the trail after 20 minutes of bushwhacking and log-hopping
Finally gained the trail after 20 minutes of bushwhacking and log-hopping

Cattle drive at Snow Lake
Cattle drive at Snow Lake

Little Black Mountains
Little Black Mountains

Top of the trail to Snow Lake
Top of the trail to Snow Lake

View over Capitol Reef toward the Henrys
View over Capitol Reef toward the Henrys

GWT sign
GWT sign

Sign at the bottom of the trail
Sign at the bottom of the trail

When I got to Snow Lake I let the dogs frolic in the water before walking over to the Jeep. The total hiking distance was about six miles with 1,000′ elevation gain/loss. There were a couple more geocaches that I wanted to find, and each one was about 1/2-mile drive off the main road to nice overlooks of the valleys to the north, east, and south. It more than made up for the lack of views from the edge of Flat Top.

Torrey and Boulder cooling off in Snow Lake
Torrey and Boulder cooling off in Snow Lake

Hike stats
Hike stats

Northern Capitol Reef
Northern Capitol Reef

Central Capitol Reef
Central Capitol Reef

Jailhouse Rock
Jailhouse Rock

Panorama from Sulphur Spring near Wiff’s Pasture
Panorama from Sulphur Spring near Wiff's Pasture

Torrey (the town, not the dog)
Torrey (the town, not the dog)


Photo Gallery: Thousand Lake Mountain – Flat Top
GPS Track and Photo Waypoints:
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