Santaquin Peak

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

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Distance: 11.4 miles (round trip)

Walking time: 8 hours

Elevations: 3,195 ft. gain/loss
     Loafer Mountain Trailhead: 7,490 ft.
     Santaquin Peak: 10,685 ft.

Trail: Well used and easy to follow

Season: Summer through mid-fall. The upper parts of the trail are usually covered with snow from mid-November through late June. For current conditions call the Spanish Fork Ranger District, Uinta National Forest, at (801) 798-3571.

Vicinity: Near Spanish Fork and Payson

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Loafer Mountain Trail


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     Although many peaks along the Wasatch Front are considerably higher than Santaquin Peak, few of the area’s hikes are more scenic than this one. The trail is especially beautiful in the fall, as it passes through numerous groves of maple and aspen on its way to Loafer Ridge. Although the elevation gain is over 3,000 feet, the gain is fairly well distributed along the 5.7 mile length of the hike; hence the climb is not excessively strenuous. You should carry a pair of binoculars to the top, since there is a lot to see. Splendid views of Mount Nebo and the Payson Lakes can be seen to the south, while Mount Timpanogos and Utah Lake provide a backdrop for Provo, Payson, and other nearby towns in the north.

     From the trailhead the path winds through the woods for 1.1 miles, gaining about 350 feet in elevation before coming to a trail sign and junction near an old coral. Turn left here in order to stay on the Loafer Mountain Trail. (You will be on the Loafer Mountain Trail for the first 4.3 miles of this hike.) The trail continues east for only 0.1 mile before coming to another junction where you must turn right. Again there is a forest service sign at the junction. You should stay on the Loafer Mountain Trail, No. 98.
     The trail now settles down to a long, gradual climb of 2,000 feet over the next 2.4 miles to the top of the Loafer Mountain Ridge. Once you reach the ridge you will be out of the trees and you can start enjoying the views. Payson Lakes are directly below you, and Mount Nebo (11,928 ft.) is the pyramid-shaped peak above the horizon 12 miles to the south. Santaquin Peak, your destination, will also come into view in front of you as you climb onto the ridge. Santaquin is the most prominent peak on the left.
     After another 0.7 mile the ridge reaches a shallow saddle, where a faint trail branches off to the right. The lesser used trail is the continuation of the Loafer Mountain Trail, which swings to the east at this point and eventually descends down the mountain through Deer Hollow. To reach Santaquin Peak you must bear left at this saddle, staying on the better trail. There shouldn’t be any confusion because the other trail is so vague you might not even see it. Furthermore, you goal, Santaquin Peak, is directly in front of you now and it is quite obvious which direction you should go.
     Before continuing, pause for a moment at the saddle to study the two peaks in front of you, Santaquin on the left and Loafer on the right. They are about 0.7 mile apart and are separated by a deep notch. From this prospective Santaquin appears to be the higher of the two, but it is actually slightly lower. Nevertheless, Santaquin is a much more interesting climb. Loafer is not really a peak at all, but rather just the highest point on a long, unappealing ridge. Also, it is hard to see Utah Valley from Loafer Peak because the view is obstructed by Santaquin. But if you insist on scaling the higher of the two peaks it isn't too difficult to make your way from the saddle up the ridge to the top of Loafer. The climb will require about 880 feet of elevation gain. There is no trail but there are no serious obstacles either, and the route is quite straightforward.
     The trail from the saddle to the top of Santaquin Peak contours around the west side of the Loafer Mountain Ridge until it reaches the bottom of the notch separating the two peaks. It then ascends toward the top of Santaquin, traversing around the south side of the summit and reaching the peak 0.6 mile later. The elevation gain from the bottom of the notch is about 430 feet.


The book includes more text, more photographs, and trail maps.

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If you are interested in a supplemental map of the Santaquin Peak area, we recommend:
Uinta National Forest (Trails Illustrated, map #701)

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