Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains

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Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Mt.Elliott (7,142 ft) is located along the Book Cliff Mountains, in between Price, Utah and I-70. Ever driven to Moab from SLC? Then you've passed this peak and know exactly where it is! Near the town of Woodside, UT there is an abandoned gas station with people sometimes selling jerky. Look directly up and SW, and you'll see this pointy peak clearly. You can't miss it, it sticks out because of it's jagged yet isolated summit. This obscure peak ranks #24 out of 29 on the Utah Country Prominence Peak list, and because of it's low popularity, only a handful of people will make it to the summit each year. 

Timing this peak is tricky. I'd say the hardest part is the Price River needs to be low enough to cross - typically 50cfs or lower is ideal (check here for the current flow rate). I once planned to do Elliott in June, and during spring run off the flow rate was close to 200cfs! Obviously, I didn't end up hiking it that day. The other hard part is that you don't want it to be above 70-75F because there is hardly any shade and zero water along the trail. Dehydration and sunburn are the real deal in Southern Utah! 


Because of this last part, I didn't want to bring Charlie along. I didn't want him to get too hot for 16 miles, have to carry a bunch more water for him, only for him to get sick, hurt a paw, or anything else. His max mileage these days is 12-14. Sadly, I left him home for this hike, even though dogs are allowed. 

Lower flow rate and cool temps make Fall the ideal time to hike to Mt.Elliott! Be prepared with at least 3 liters of water, plenty of sunblock (we got sunburned even in October!), food, and other sun protection. Even though this hike is mainly on a road, the views on the summit of Mt.Elliott are worth it!

Side note: if you do have an ATV or dirt bike, then you only have to hike 1/2 mile to reach the summit.



From Price, Utah head south on HWY 6/191 for 37.8 miles (mile post 278) and you'll see an unsigned dirt road on your left (East side of the road) - turn here and reset your odometer. If you drive past the abandonded gas station, you went too far. This is also a good spot to turn around if you initially missed the turn. At 4.3 miles cross a cattle guard, and at 5.2 miles the road narrows to one lane, there is a brown sign off to the right, and is now considered a "jeep road", but as long as you have an SUV or larger you can make it. Small cars will not appreciate the under carriage getting hit by all the shrubs and banged up by rocks. At 7.9 miles the road ends at the Price River. This is where we camped and parked for our trip, and there is a small turnaround. Here is a driving map to the dirt road turn off.

Here are a few pictures of the drive and signs.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
 This was actually driving out from our hike, since as we pulled in at night we couldn't see anything.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Pass by an info sign on your left.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
 5.2 miles - road narrows with these four boulders and brown sign off to the right. If you have a small car, you'll want to park here and walk the rest of the way. This would make the hike closer to 20 miles RT.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
At 7.9 miles, reach the Price River. Only ATVs and dirt bikes can drive through the river. Even in early October the water level in this section was about thigh deep. (This is why we hiked across up stream about 20 feet).


Distance: 16 miles RT
Elevation gain: 2,842 ft
Time: 6-9 hours
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash
Kid friendly? No
Fees/Permits? None

Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Camping at the end of the road. Cold in the morning, but it warmed up to about 63F. Perfect temps for this hike.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Wow, that light!
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Crossing the river was COLD! We carried out hiking shoes and a towel across the river so that we could immediately change into our hiking shoes. We stashed our Chacos in some bushes so we didn't have to carry them the entire hike. Having a trekking pole was helpful to gauge the water depth. We didn't cross right where the ATV road goes across because it looked deeper, so we crossed about 15 feet up river from that and tried to stay on rocks. The water is very opaque and murky, and the mud is extremely sloppy. Don't be surprised if you fall in up to your knees or more, but also don't wear flip flops!
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Now the easy part begins - just follow the road up around the north end of a butress.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
The road gets near the edge, and its pretty cool to look down and see the Price River from above. That road is the one you should have driven in on.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Views in the other directions - almost looks like the Grand Canyon or The Wedge!
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
At 3.3 miles, we had our first sighting of Mt.Elliott! Only 4.5 miles to go!
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
We took a break to apply sunblock. Even though it was only 60F, we knew we would get fried being in the sun all day this time of year in Southern Utah. I stopped to look over another ledge and the wind was whipping!
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
What most of the "hike" looks like - a long, lonely road.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Getting a better view of the Book Cliffs.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
We were so close to our destination now! We knew we would have to leave the road, and this gave us a good look where we wanted to do that. Basically, we hiked to where the ridge in front comes down to meet the road, then hiked up from there. Keep reading.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
The last mile of road hiking.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
In case you've been wondering, all these roads were built back in the 1970s for oil exploration! Not much came out of the expensive project, but it did lead to easier access for exploring this terrain.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
The one person we saw all day was a single dirt biker. We chatted for a few minutes and he asked us what we were doing "all the way out here". I pointed to the peak and said, "We're going there! Mt.Elliott!" And he kind of responding in an "oh that's weird but interesting" tone haha! Only peak baggers would understand! He did tell us that it only took him about 30 minutes to reach that spot where we talked...it took us about 3.5 hours! He went on his way, and never saw him again.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Finally, after walking on the road for 7.3 miles it's time to route find your way to the summit. You'll see this large Juniper tree, and if you are tracking mileage you'll know this is your turn. 
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
You'll be off trail now, but just aim for the saddle.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
It's not hard hiking this section, just a little steep.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Still really happy to be outside all day! Who cares if I have to bushwhack a little!
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Mt.Elliott saddle! So cool to see the Swell and Highway 6 out there!
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Keep following the ridge now.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
There is some class 2 scrambling, depending on what way you climb up. Staying exactly on the ridge is impossible since there are cliff bands you can't climb up.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Now how did I end up here!? Wrong turn lol.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Getting higher now. It looks like the edge drops off behind me, but it was never scary or too narrow.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
David leads us up another class 2 area.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Whew, only a little more scrambling.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
And finally, to reach the summit there is one class 3 move. It's easy - we were both able to climb and and up by ourselves without help from each other.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
On the summit of Mt.Elliott with my pal David, woot woot!

Time up: 4:15 hours
Time down: 2:25 hours
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
I was SO happy to finally check this peak off my list! I can't believe I've been starting at it for YEARS and now I can say i've been up there.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Looking down from the peak.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Fresh summit register!
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
We took a lunch break and enjoyed the views for about 45 minutes, then it was time to hike down.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Crossing the Price River on the way back was super refreshing this time around!
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Mt.Elliott as seen from the dirt road turn off at mile post 278.
Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains
Mt.Elliot as seen from the Cottonwood Wash Road.

Check out my video!






Camping & Exploring The Wedge Overlook
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Hiking to Mt.Elliott, Book Cliff Mountains