Santaquin Peak & Loafer Mountain are the peaks above, well, Santaquin, Utah and are in between the famous Mt. Nebo (tallest peak in the Wasatch) and Spanish Fork Peak. Though the trail leads to Santaquin Peak, Loafer mountain is 2 ft taller, yet not many people go off trail to summit it. Santaquin Peak offers better views compared to Loafer Mountain, as you have 360 degree views of Utah lake, Timpanogos and Provo Peak to the North, Mt. Nebo to the southwest, and on a clear day you can even see Deseret Peak to the West. The first half of the trail is mostly forested, and the second half if fully exposed to sun and wind. Santaquin Peak has just under 3,000 ft of prominence.
From SLC, head south on I-15 and take exit 250 towards Payson, UT. At the first stop light, turn left (on E 100 N). At the next stop sign turn right onto the Nebo Scenic Loop Road (there’s a brown sign for the turn off). Reset your odometer and drive 10.7 miles to the Loafer Mtn TH on your left (again, there is a brown forest service sign for the TH). Park here or along the road. No restrooms are available.
Distance: 5.6 one way (11.2 RT)
Our group was planning on meeting at the TH at 6am, and the drive from my house is about 1.5 hours. Because I didn’t want to wake up at 4am, to get there at 6am, my friend and I decided to camp out 5 miles down from the trailhead at the Maple Bench Campground. This campground has 7 tent/RV sites and cost $18/night. You can’t reserve any campsites here, so the earlier you arrive on a Friday night, the better the chance you will get a spot. To get here, once you turn onto the Nebo Scenic Loop road, drive 5.3 miles up the road until you see the brown forest service sign, pointing right.
The full RV site.
The campsite has a picnic table and fire ring, and one vault restroom for the campground.
We set up our tents for the night.
This was the first time I have ever slept without the rain fly on. I didn’t think it wasn’t going to rain (however, you never know in Utah), and it wasn’t that cold. I also wanted an easy take down in the morning. With Charlie, however, he usually keeps me alert for animals and such. So around 1 or 2 am, he alerted me of deer in our camp. He has this low growl, and it immediately woke me up. I like that he is protective, but not when I’m trying to sleep! Lesson learned that in order to keep him quiet at night, I still need to use the rain fly for a little privacy and protection from Charlie barking.
I freakin’ love Mountain House meals, but this time I brought along a single serving meal of Chili Mac with Beef. I didn’t realize HOW LITTLE food you get for only $2 cheaper than the full size meal. It literally was about 3/4 cup of food. I was very disappointed with the serving size. Another lesson learned – don’t buy single serving meals anymore!
We woke up at 5am, and were at the TH at 6:08am only to find our group had started without us. Neither my friend nor I had done this trail before, and weren’t quite sure of the trail splits. Thankfully I had taken a screen shot of the map to help us.
Once you park, you’ll see this sign for 4 different trails. Head right for Loafer Mtn. It says 6 miles, but after tracking it, it was only 5.6 miles (one way).
The first mile is very easy and very forested.
Pass a small meadow within the first 5 minutes. At the first trail split, veer right.
Beautiful Colorado Columbine flower along the trail.
This is the 2nd trail split – veer left.
And at the 3rd trail split, turn right. The brown trail marker isn’t well kept, but if you keep count of the trail splits, you’ll know where/when to turn.
The next 2-3 miles had very thick, dense low shrub. This is a section I wished I had pants on to protect my legs. However, it didn’t last long. You can’t even see where the trail is here. I felt like I was hiking in the wrong direction for this part. The trail lead us north, but I knew the peak was to the East.
Eventually, the trail does turn East, begins to get steep, and from this point on, there’s no shade. It’s also rockier compared to the first 2 miles.
Work your way up the large switchbacks and ridge, until you get to the saddle.
Finally on the first saddle, with Timpanogos and Provo Peak in the distance.
Once on the saddle, continue right, up to the next ridgeline.
This is one of my favorite photos from the hike. The Indian Paintbrush flowers with Mt. Nebo in the distance was so pretty! You can also see Payson Lakes from the ridge.
Walking along this ridge was pretty easy. You can clearly see Mt. Loafer (straight ahead) and Santaquin Peak (on the far left).
On the North side of Loafer Mtn, we hit snow. It lasted for about 100 yards, and eventually we lost the trail, but could see where we needed to be. I imagine that in a week or two, this snow will be gone (by the end of June).
The black arrow shows where we were hiking in the snow, and the white arrow shows how little my friend looks as she climbs up to the actual trail (where I am standing and took this photo). It was challenging climbing straight up, but I imagine easier than post-holing through more snow.
Back on the trail, Charlie leads the way.
At the next saddle, with Santaquin Peak to the left. That peak straight ahead is Spanish Fork Peak.
The last section of the trail is a little sketchy, as it’s a little narrower, with loose rock. Watch your footing – one wrong step and you could easily slide off to the left.
Last 50 yards!
On the summit of Santaquin Peak, looking out to Utah Lake, The first set of mountains behind Utah Lake is the Oquirrh Mountains, and the second set of mountains is Deseret Peak.
On the summit! I totally forgot to sign the summit register!
I caught up to most of the group halfway, and the full group at the peak. If you are interested in climbing peaks, join Wasatch Peak Baggers!
On Santaquin Peak, with Loafer Mtn to the left (my right in the photo), and Mt. Nebo behind me.
Charlie looks on to Loafer Mtn. We originally had planned to summit Loafer Mtn, but due to snow and time, we skipped it.
This is one of my new favorite photos of Charlie!
Overview of the whole trail, looking North.
Trail map looking East.
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