Circleville Mountain

August 14, 2020

Last month I spent five days and nights in the Tushar Mountains, this being my third trip to the area after hiking Delano Peak in 2016 and City Creek Peak and Twin Lakes last year. On this trip I only did two big hikes, the first of which was to the summit of Circleville Mountain. My family and I arrived at Big Flat on Wednesday evening, and I enjoyed a rare lazy day at camp all day Thursday. My friend Kenny arrived that day and on Friday we hiked Circleville Mountain. I’d failed to consult the MVUM and expected to be able to drive much closer to the start of our hike, but instead we encountered a locked gate at the bottom of the logging roads leading up onto the mountain. Kenny backed his Jeep down the road from the gate and parked at a wide spot in the road and we began our hike. It’s always disheartening hiking along a perfectly good road, especially considering that there were recent tracks on it from ATVs and UTVs who had found a way around the gate. We hiked almost two unnecessary miles before reaching the end of the logging road were we caught our first glimpse of the town of Circleville.

Blurry camp on Thursday evening
Blurry camp on Thursday evening

Parking spot on Forest Road 663
Parking spot on Forest Road 663

Road closed for no good reason
Road closed for no good reason

Hiking up a logging road
Hiking up a logging road

Logging road dozed through some rocks
Logging road dozed through some rocks

Upper end of the logging road
Upper end of the logging road

Squirrel on a tree stump
Squirrel on a tree stump

View of Circleville from the end of the logging road
View of Circleville from the end of the logging road

From the end of the logging road I expected to bushwhack through some dense trees based on what I saw in the satellite imagery, but although the trees had a thick canopy the hiking was pretty easy with very little undergrowth. Once we gained the top of the ridge and left the trees behind, Kenny and I found a survey tower still standing in a pile of rocks on top of the ridge. From there we dropped down to a saddle and then began climbing again through relatively sparse pine trees. As usual I was keeping my eyes on the ground in front of me and started noticing lithic flakes at just over 11,000′. I located the largest concentration of them and then spent some time combing the area, and then spotted a broken arrowhead made of pink and white chert. I really wasn’t expecting to find anything like that here, even though over the past few years I’ve found several arrowheads at over 10,000′ in the Utah mountains.

Route through the trees
Route through the trees

Survey tower
Survey tower

Panorama from the survey tower
Panorama from the survey tower

First view of the Circleville Mountain summit
First view of the Circleville Mountain summit

Lithic flakes
Lithic flakes

Ooh, a pretty rock! Broken arrowhead found just above 11,000′.
Ooh, a pretty rock!  Broken arrowhead found just above 11,000'.

Obsidian flake
Obsidian flake

After a short and steep climb up from the saddle we reached the summit of Circleville Mountain. There we found a survey marker and tower, and two summit registers–one from 2004 and another from 2007. After signing the older of the summit registers we didn’t even stop for lunch, but instead headed back down the mountain where we took a slightly different route and noticed a few sections of constructed trail (which was surprising given the relatively easy terrain).

Saddle below the summit
Saddle below the summit

Final climb to the summit
Final climb to the summit

Remains of tower around the survey marker
Remains of tower around the survey marker

Survey marker at the Circleville Mountain summit
Survey marker at the Circleville Mountain summit

Kenny at the survey tower
Kenny at the survey tower

2004 summit register
2004 summit register

2007 summit register
2007 summit register

Kenny signing the summit register
Kenny signing the summit register

View from Circleville Mountain
View from Circleville Mountain

Circleville from the summit
Circleville from the summit

Reference marker #1
Reference marker #1

Constructed trail below the summit
Constructed trail below the summit

Once we reached the logging road there were some nice views of the higher sections of the Tushar Mountains that we hadn’t noticed on the way up because they were behind us. When we reached Kenny’s Jeep my GPS had logged just over seven miles and 1,300′ elevation gain, making this one of the more difficult hikes we had to choose from on this day due to the road closure (with Mount Holly and Lake Peak being our other choices). It had felt like a tough day but there was more fun to come the next day hiking to Blue Lake. After returning to camp we drove down the road to Kent’s Lake and visited our friends Paul and Pam. We celebrated Paul’s birthday and ate dinner there and witnessed a very nice sunset before returning to camp for the night.

The high ridge of the Tushar Mountains
The high ridge of the Tushar Mountains

Mount Baldy and Mount Belknap
Mount Baldy and Mount Belknap

Sunset at Kent’s Lake
Sunset at Kent's Lake

Sunset at Kent’s Lake
Sunset at Kent's Lake


Photo Gallery: Circleville Mountain
GPS Track: [KMZ] [GPX]