Candland Mountain Loop

excerpts from the book
Utah's Incredible Backcountry Trails
by David Day

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Distance: 9.1 miles (plus 4.4 miles by bicycle)

Walking time: 6 1/4 hours

Elevations: 2,125 ft. gain, 2,505 ft. loss
     Mill Canyon Trailhead (start): 8,080 ft.
     Candland Mountain: 10,205 ft.
     Left Fork Huntington Trailhead: 7,700 ft.

Trail: Most of the trail is well maintained and easy to follow, but there are a few confusing junctions. The last 4.2 miles are along a designated National Recreation Trail.

Season: Summer through mid-fall. Upper parts of trail are usually covered with snow from mid-November through mid-June. For current conditions call Price Ranger District, Manti-La Sal National Forest, (435) 637-2817.

Vicinity: Huntington Canyon, near Price

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Left Fork Huntington Creek

 

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     The Candland Mountain Loop offers a fine combination of mountain and canyon hiking, with just enough elevation gain to let you know that you have been on a hike and not just a Sunday afternoon stroll. The final 4.2 miles of the hike are down the Left Fork Huntington Creek, an exceptionally pretty stream, on a designated National Recreation Trail.

     From the mouth of Mill Canyon the trail begins its assent almost immediately, gaining about a thousand feet per mile for the next 2.1 miles. When you reach the top of the ridge you will intersect an old pack trail that starts farther north and follows the long summit ridge of Candland Mountain. You could continue straight across the pack trail at this point, but if you do so you will miss the marvelous views along the ridge. Instead, turn left and follow the pack trail along the ridge in a southerly direction.
     After a five-minute climb up the old Candland Mountain pack trail you will reach a local summit (10,205 ft.) where the forest opens up in the west for a wonderful view of Miller Flat and Hog Flat below. Bald Mountain is clearly visible along the western boundary of Miller Flat, and Seeley Peak lies about 2.5 miles to the south. In between Candland Mountain and Seeley Peak is the 2,000-foot-deep Left Fork Huntington Canyon, which will be your return route. The two mountains were once connected, before the erosive powers of the Left Fork Huntington Creek carved the deep gouge between them millions of years ago. Continuing southward on the pack trail for 10 minutes more will bring you to another junction where a trail drops off to the right. You should leave the ridge at this point and begin your descent to Hog Flat.
     After walking 1.8 miles and dropping 1,600 feet below Candland Mountain ridge, the trail intersects a jeep road. Turn left and walk along the jeep road for another 0.8 mile to the mouth of Left Fork Huntington Canyon, where the road comes to a dead end. At the end of the road the Left Fork Huntington Creek enters an abrupt break in the mountains, and within just a few hundred feet the terrain changes completely from a sage-covered flat to a tree-lined canyon. This canyon will be your route through the mountains back to Highway 31-a much easier walk that the climb over Candland Mountain was!
     All that remains of the hike now is to walk down Left Fork Huntington Creek to the Forks of Huntington Campground, 4.2 miles distant. This part of the hike has been officially designated as a National Recreation Trail, and it is very pretty. Huge conifers grow right to the water’s edge on the south side of the stream, with bands of quaking aspen higher up the canyon walls. There are several excellent camping areas farther downstream where many people stay to take advantage of the fishing. Note the difference in vegetation between the north and south facing sides of the canyon. The forest is much more alpine in nature on the heavily shaded north-facing side, while sage brush and other semiarid plants grow on the sunny south-facing side. The trail runs along the sunny side of the canyon, where there are fewer obstacles to impede its progress.

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