Boulder Mountain

I spent the better part of yesterday behind bars. Handlebars, that is. (See what I did there?) Our group of eight, led by Lyman, explored Boulder Mountain on dirt bikes. I’d previously hiked with all of the group members on different occasions, but this time it was a pleasure to spend some time with and learn from Lyman. Alan and I loaded our motorcycles into his van the previous evening and then left Price early the next morning and met up with some others at Wade’s house in Ferron. We staged near the Aquarius Guard Station at the base of Boulder Mountain where we met Lyman and Josh. We got rolling at about 9:45 and headed generally south until picking up a road that led east onto Boulder Top. There were a few interesting stops along the way, including one by me when I dropped my motorcycle while trying to climb out of a rut in the road. Luckily it was my only major mishap of the trip.

Staging area near the Aquarius Guard Station
Staging area near the Aquarius Guard Station


Cabin at the bottom of the Miller Creek Trail
Cabin at the bottom of the Miller Creek Trail


Dark Valley
Dark Valley


Half-Track at Row Lakes
Half-Track at Row Lakes


Field of dandelions
Field of dandelions


This trip was actually supposed to happen the previous weekend but the Forest Service hadn’t yet opened the gates onto Boulder Top due to snow drifts. The one-week delay made a big difference and we climbed up onto the plateau without encountering any snow on the road. We lunched at Spectacle Lake and then continued across Boulder Top on the way to Bown’s Point. One part of the road along the way crossed through Bakeskillet Lake. Wade braved through it first and then everyone followed. At the next major road junction we ran into a couple of vehicles, one of which was piloted by a good friend of Josh–another one of those “small world” moments.

Sign at Boulder Top near South Point
Sign at Boulder Top near South Point


Cabin at Spectacle Lake
Cabin at Spectacle Lake


One of several beetles that landed on me
One of several beetles that landed on me


Spectacle Lake
Spectacle Lake


Alan and Paul riding through Bakeskillet Lake
Alan and Paul riding through Bakeskillet Lake


One of these things is not like the others
One of these things is not like the others


Talking to some of Josh’s friends that we bumped into
Talking to some of Josh's friends that we bumped into


Stink Draw
Stink Draw


Pot leaf carving
Pot leaf carving


Cabin near Oak Draw
Cabin near Oak Draw


Mosquito feeding on me
Mosquito feeding on me


Nearing Bown’s Point
Nearing Bown's Point


The view east from Boulder Mountain is unparallelled. You can get a good taste of it from Highway 12 on the eastern flank of Boulder Mountain, but that’s 1,500 to 2,000 feet below where we stood. From Bown’s Point we could see Capitol Reef and the Henry Mountains and beyond. Almost every color imaginable is visible in the vegetation and geology for as far as one can see. To get a better view to the north we hiked the Great Western Trail for a short distance.

Top of stock trail at Bown’s Point
Top of stock trail at Bown's Point


View across Capitol Reef toward the Henry Mountains
View across Capitol Reef toward the Henry Mountains


Capitol Reef in the foreground and the San Rafael Reef faintly visible in the distance
Capitol Reef in the foreground and the San Rafael Reef faintly visible in the distance


Lower Bown’s Reservoir
Lower Bown's Reservoir


Trail sign
Trail sign


Long Lake
Long Lake


Blazed tree along the Great Western Trail
Blazed tree along the Great Western Trail


It took some backtracking to the northwest until we hit another road leading east to Chokecherry (Tantalus) Point. It rained for much of that part of the ride, and I think the thunder had at least a few of us worried. The rain eased as we stopped for another hike along the Rim Trail to Chokecherry Point. At the point was a visitor register in a tea tin, but historically there was a different register that was visited by explorers, hunters, sheep and cattle herders, and other pioneers. The view from Chokecherry Point was much the same as from Bown’s Point, except one could see farther north from Chokecherry.

Road across a meadow at Oak Draw
Road across a meadow at Oak Draw


Road across Oak Draw
Road across Oak Draw


Intersection at Stink Flats
Intersection at Stink Flats


Road near Chokecherry Point
Road near Chokecherry Point


Rim Trail leading to Chokecherry Point
Rim Trail leading to Chokecherry Point


Visitor register at Chokecherry Point
Visitor register at Chokecherry Point


Cluster of Asteraceae growing in basalt rocks
Cluster of Asteraceae growing in basalt rocks


Part of the survey tower from 1934
Part of the survey tower from 1934


Fins in Capitol Reef
Fins in Capitol Reef


Jorgenson Flat
Jorgenson Flat


We took a more direct route back to our vehicles, with a quick stop to hike Bluebell Knoll, the highest point in Wayne County at 11,317′ in elevation. It turned out to be my 10th county high point in Utah–only 19 left to go! The mosquitoes were at their worst on Bluebell Knoll, and I’m glad it was late enough in the day that nobody wanted to spend much time there. 🙂 It was an easy gravel road from there back to our vehicles, but we’d seen a huge variety of road conditions during the day. From gravel, dirt, mud, snow, and rocks, we’d seen just about everything except sand and ice. My previous motorcycle experience hadn’t prepared me at all for this trip. At the beginning I felt uneasy and always on the edge of control, but by the end of the trip I was cruising easily and feeling completely comfortable on the rough, rocky roads.

Beef Meadows
Beef Meadows


Group photo at the Bluebell Knoll sign
Group photo at the Bluebell Knoll sign


Gentle uphill climb to Bluebell Knoll
Gentle uphill climb to Bluebell Knoll


Geocache at Bluebell Knoll
Geocache at Bluebell Knoll


Pond southeast of Bluebell Knoll
Pond southeast of Bluebell Knoll


Mosquitoes attacking
Mosquitoes attacking


View southwest off Boulder Mountain
View southwest off Boulder Mountain


GPS at the end of the ride
GPS at the end of the ride


Photo Gallery: Boulder Mountain
GPS Track and Photo Waypoints:
[Google Earth KMZ] [Gmap4 Satellite] [Gmap4 Topo]

7 thoughts on “Boulder Mountain

  1. I enjoyed the report almost as much as the ride. There is a fellow out there named Bob Palin who posted to Torrey Tales for years. I enjoyed his site very much but it disappeared eventually. I ran into him in the Washington County Library last year and thanked him for sharing his wonderful photos and observations. He said “Really? No one ever said anything so I quit posting.” I learned my lesson right there. Dennis, I will tell you right now how much I enjoy and appreciate (vicariously for the most part) your journeys, your site, your photography and your shares.

    1. For that very reason I appreciate your comments, Lyman! Thanks for leading the trip and sharing your research and knowledge of the area. I actually thought of Bob quite a bit during this trip. While researching Chokecherry Point, I came across Bob’s photo on Panoramio that had a link to his blog entry, but the URL didn’t work. He was out of the country during our trip, otherwise I might have nudged him for some information or even talked to you about inviting him. This was a great and immersive introduction to Boulder Mountain. I hope my plans for returning don’t get lost among all my other wishes to explore my surroundings. 🙂

      1. Oh, and I just realized that I completely forgot about you and me having hiked together to Bowknot Saddle! Perhaps it was being at the back of the pack and my continual worrying about making it back to the vehicles alive that made me forget.
        I also didn’t fail to notice that it seemed like at least Alan and/or Travis were bringing up the rear for about the first 75% of yesterday’s trip. It was comforting knowing that somebody was back there to help me in case I screwed up badly, and also motivating knowing that somebody might see me make a mistake. 😉

    2. Dennis, you graduated from “rookie” status about one hour into this all-day ride.
      Lyman was setting a rather quick “pace”, but I still managed to take 300 pictures during the day. And I too enjoy your trip reports…..proven by the fact that I save them as word documents and send them and your website to friends all over the country!

      1. Thanks, Alan. I’m not sure what comes after rookie, but I know I still have a fair way to go before I’d even consider myself competent on a motorcycle. 🙂

  2. Stumbled on this great trip… Truly my favorite place in this world.. gotta love the South Draw Road from the park to 12 and perhaps down the Sheets gulch slot canyon… probably not on motorcycles.. Thanks so much… Bob is my neighbor..

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