UT – Manns Peak and Pilot Peak, La Sal Mountains

On my continued quest to find a smoke-free zone, my bestie adventure buddy Joan invited me to Moab. While it’s much too hot to hike for me to hike in red rock country, the La Sal Mountains (to the southeast of Moab) rise up above 12,000 feet. This range is part of the Manti-La Sal National Forest and is not a designated wilderness area. 

We started the hike off Geyser Pass Road near the Burro Pass Trailhead (which can also be reached from Warner Lake). 

The trail to Burro Pass is a high use mountain bike trail, part of the WE (Whole Enchilada) and it seems the gate was replaced with these steps which prevent the open grazing cattle from escaping. 

It’s a nice steady climb up to Burro Pass from the trailhead. 

At the pass, the bikers follow the Whole Enchilada Trail (WE).

Bikers are not allowed on the Manns Peak trail. Since this is a fairly new trail system, it does not appear on most maps.

Shuttle buses bring loads of bikers up to the Burro Pass Trailhead (so they can ride the WE back to Moab). We learned the first group leaves Moab around 7:30am. We started our hike around 8:15 arriving at the pass about an hour later. If we’d left 15 minutes earlier, we would have avoided their traffic. 

Manns Peak at 12,272 feet doesn’t look too daunting from this angle. It took us about 2.5 hours to reach the summit from the trailhead.

Soon enough we found ourselves on the rocky nose, where there is a wonderful staircase through the steepest section. 

Photo of me climbing the staircase, courtesy of Joan (as are all photos of me in this post). 

Looking back at where we came from and Joan beginning the rocky ascent. 

You can see the trail in the trough of rocks. 

Joan points at the peak. 

After the rocky section, the trail disappeared. 

I was excited to see mountain goats welcoming us to the summit.

By the time we arrived, the goats were gone. 

Good thing Joan came prepared with a net to capture me a goat. 

Team J&J together again, having fun, sharing laughs, giggles and challenges. 

The 360 views were WOWtastic! 

You can connect many of these peaks (Manns, Pilot, Green, and Waas). We had a loop planned with Pilot Peak at 12,200 feet, the next in line as our upcoming challenge. There is no official/maintained trail, but a well used path is apparent.

If successful, we’d be coming back via Dry Fork Creek then Wet Fork Creek trails, the drainage in the below photo. 

You can now see the trail on the left side of Pilot Mountain. From a distance it looked more like a goat trail and we were prepared to turn back. 

Can we do it? Yes we can! 

Afterall, we just climbed Manns Peak

Soon enough we could see the summit. 

Once again it’s steeper than it looks. 

More 360 WOWtastic views! It took us a little over an hour to hike from Manns to Pilot Peaks.

Looking down into Castle Valley

To the right is Mt Waas and if you look closely you can see a very tight switchback trail going up the face. But after climbing nearly 3000′ by this point, this gal had enough for this day. The dark clouds helped motivate us to get off the bald summit and spend some time going down, down, down. 

How many years will it take for this mountain to become tree covered? 

It seems only fitting to see signs of autumn in early September. 

It was more climbing back up from Wet Fork to Burro Pass. I was pretty happy when it was downhill sailing after Burro Pass. 

Water is fairly scarce and it’s challenging to connect trails, thus car camping and day hiking make a lot more sense. We were rained on for a bit during our hike and received a drencher during the night. 

The best sunset viewing was near my car. 

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: September 9, 2017
  • Mileage: 8-9 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 4,000′
  • Trail Conditions:
    • Tree obstacles: few
    • Overgrowth: minimal
    • Signage: good
    • Terrain: mixed (some rocky sections, some loose footing with side hilling)
    • Navigation skills: moderate for some sections and for trail reroutes
  • Water: Bring your own (water is available in Wet Fork)
  • Camping: Dispersed options plentiful
  • Solitude: Mixed (we didn’t see anyone while peak bagging, but saw a few on Dry and Wet Forks, and lots of bikes on the Burro Pass section)
  • Bugs: minimal
  • Wildlife: lots of pikas and we heard elk bugling the previous night
  • Precip: Some rain
  • Temp: I’d guess in the 70’s
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 4+ cherries (out of 5) Views were outstanding!




6 thoughts on “UT – Manns Peak and Pilot Peak, La Sal Mountains

  1. Pingback: UT – Haystack Peak, La Sal Mountains – Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings

  2. Super fantastic awesomeness for Team J&J! Woohoo! These summits are something I would not have been brave enough to do solo so I’m thrilled we did them together. So much more fun hiking with you and all of our silliness

  3. Pingback: CO – Lizard Head Loop – San Juan NF (Part 1) – Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings

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