The summit of Bald Mountain feels like the top of Utah. This is where all the rivers begin: Provo, the Weber, Bear Rivers and Duchesne. From the top of the fire tower, looking west, you’ll be able to see a couple dozen lakes and fantastic regions of the Weber and Provo Rivers.
Turn to the east and soak up the fantastic view of the Mirror Lake Highway, twisting its way through timber.
Point your gaze southward and you’ll see across the Domeland Wilderness and out towards Owens Peak.
Needless to say if you’re living in or visiting Old Forge, NY, the 2350-ft. summit of Bald Mountain is worth a visit.
While the full distance of the summit of Bald Mountain is under a mile, the ascent is about 500 ft. However despite the short distance, the views are spectacular.
Not only that, but there are a number of viewpoints where you can soak up the scenery along the trail, without having to climb your way to the fire tower.
In this article, we outline everything you need to know to get started on your exciting hike through Bald Mountain: from where the best views are to what you should bring and expect.
Useful Facts on Bald Mountain
The starting point for Bald Mountain is at the Bald Mountain trailhead, located near Kamas, Utah. The total distance there and back is 5 miles, while the summit elevation is 11,943 feet.
Hikers should expect about 3 ⅓ hours of steady climbing, giving this hike a moderate level of difficulty.
The wilderness trail connects to Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest as well as the Heber-Kamas Ranger District.
There are many trails that connect to the Bald Mountain trail, including some Pacific Crest trails.
If you’re thinking of elongating your hike or turning your half-day hike into a weekend adventure, you can check out this campground for information on camping areas, routes, and which trails link together easily.
Bald Mountain and the surrounding area are absolutely stunning. If you have a free weekend or a few spare sick days you want to cash in, we highly recommend using them by venturing around this area.
Not only will you be entirely submersed in nature, but almost every trail is challenging, unique, and undeniably gorgeous, giving you every reason to get lost in the wild for a little while.
If you have a trusty hiking pooch, feel free to bring them along.
The best months for climbing Bald Mountain are March until October.
Finding the Trailhead to Bald Mountain
Starting from Kamas, follow the Mirror Lake Highway, otherwise known as Highway 150 for 30 miles until you see Bald Mountain overlook. Continue forward about a half a mile north until you see a left turn for Bald Mountain.
Bald Mountain parking lot can hold 25 cars and provides toilets and picnic tables for hikers and visitors. While that specific combination doesn’t sound too appealing, don’t worry, they’re spread out enough.
It should be noted that this area doesn’t provide fresh drinking water so make sure to pack your own supply.
The Bald Mountain trailhead is used heavily by hikers en route to the summit of Bald Mountain, which makes for a great way to meet other nature and adventure-lovers. If you’re flying solo, this is a great chance to pair up with a group of new pals.
Bald Mountain trailhead is the starting point to the 2.5 mile climb to Bald Mountain summit: a place where you can look into four of Utah’s major drainages.
The Hike: Bald Mountain
Once you’ve found the trailhead, geared yourself up, pre-hydrated and got your hiking pack set, it’s time to conquer Bald Mountain.
The hike begins by following well-marked signs towards the trailhead where you begin an immediate ascent, quickly finding yourself on a number of switchbacks edging along the western slope.
You’ll also find that the view is spectacular the entire way up and almost gets better with every few steps you take.
The beginning part of the hike is a pleasantly easy stroll through the woods, however, soon you’ll face the steepest section of the hike, forcing you to climb a slightly eroded trail to the top of the ridge.
Once you start to reach the top of this doomsday section, you’ll find the first of many intermediate viewpoints.
After these viewpoints, the path leads you along the spine of the ridge with easy ups and downs.
The top trail is laid on top of bedrock for the majority of the way. The Rondaxe Fire Tower found at the summit is a restored building allowing you to climb up for the ultimate views.
This summit section is long, open, and can accommodate a large amount of hikers with ease. While the summit sounds like a cinema-inspired ending to a long and challenging story, don’t expect to find yourself blissfully alone at the top.
Closing in on the summit, the trail leads you along a thin ridge with terrifyingly steep drops on either side of your body. While this sounds absolutely awful, don’t worry. There’s no real danger if you stay on the trail.
However, someone with acrophobia may feel like it’s time to start heading back to the car at this point. Once you get through this steep ridge, you’ll come to a rock stairway that you can climb, to what feels like the top of the world.
Once you’ve reached the summit of Bald Mountain, you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable view of Mount Hood and will also see parts of an old fire lookout that was in operation back in the 1940s.
This hike starts off with one of the most popular trailheads in the area, and quickly trickles off to one of the most serene and isolated summits.
Up in the air, possibly on your own, you’ll be able to see the most incredible views from all around. While Bald Mountain definitely offers some great lookouts, the Fire Tower summit view is by far the best.
Once you’ve soaked up as much natural beauty and worldly splendor that you can possibly take, you can begin the descent to the trailhead, simply by following the same route in which you came.
Take a moment to clear away brush and twigs on the way down. This is the only type of maintenance the trail receives, but it’s just enough to help keep it clear for everyone to enjoy.
The hike back down is steep, so take your time. On the way, you can take time looking back out at the viewpoints you passed and fell in love with. While the Bald Mountain summit surely is the best, chances are you’ll look back to your experience with fond memories of these ascending trail views as well.
A Few Safety Reminders For Hiking Bald Mountain & Final Thoughts
Sometimes the beauty of this hike can distract hikers from focusing on safety tips. However, you know what they say: the best type of hike is a hike completed with all your limbs intact.
(No one ever said that).
So, to obey this phony saying, it’s highly recommended to follow these safety precautions:
- If there’s lightning in the area, get off Bald Mountain.
- Don’t stand too closely to the cliff edges, especially on the east side. This is because the soil on this side breaks away easily.
- Bring lots of water for you and your furry companion so no one suffers from dehydration or heat stroke
- Tell a friend or family member what time you should be back from your hike at (remember the round-trip hike should take about 4 hours).
If you follow these rules, you’ll stay safe and won’t end up on Bald Mountain’s casualty list.
However, don’t let a bit of danger deter you.
This hike is the best investment you’ll make while in the High Uintas and arguably the best view in the entire southern Sierra Nevada.
For just 2.5 miles of steep hiking, you’ll find yourself on top of one of the most well-known peaks in the area, with a god-like view of Utah’s major watersheds, distant mountains, rolling valleys – and if you’re lucky, wildlife: sky and earth-bound.
Not only that, but because of the immense popularity of this hike, chances are you’ll find some new pals, hiking buds, or simply good conversation along the way.
So, what are you planning on doing with your leftover sick days this year?