Hiking Delano Peak in the Tushar Mountains
Peak baggers all have their lists – climb the highest mountain in every state, climb every mountian over 13,000 feet, climb every mountain you can see from your house, etc. One worthy list is to stand atop the highest point in every county in Utah, and with Delano Peak in the Tushar Mountains, you can cross out two counties with one hike as the Beaver and Piute county lines meet at the top of thissummit. Besides that fact, the mountain comes in at 12,173 feet, making it a worthy place to stand atop despite its title as highest point in two counties.
Then again, the Tushar Mountains are a worthy mountain range to visit, any way you slice it. Those of us who dwell on the Wasatch Front often just head up a nearby canyon for a mountain escape. If we’re feeling ambitious, we’ll head to the Uintas. But the Tushar Mountains are only 3 hours away, a straight shot south on I-15, and compared to Northern Utah ranges they are uncrowded.
So if you’re exploring the Tushars, a hike up the tallest peak is defenitely in order. Although the mountain lays claim to the title, it’s remarkably easy to climb, as a reletively short hike through mountain meadows and mellow ridges is all it takes to plant your flag in the rocks on top.
To begin, drive east up state highway 153 from Beaver through a nice canyon as if you’re heading for a day of skiing at Eagle Point. Before the resort, look for FS Road 123, also signed as Big John Flat. Turn left on this road and head uphill on the dirt road. You will eventually arrive at Big John Flat, a tranquil park of pines, streams and alpine grass where undeveloped campsites can be found everywhere. If you’re staying the night, this is a great place to roll out your camp pads.
To get to Delano Peak, continue up past Big John Flat, crossing a few shallow streams, one of which is called Poison Creek. The road gets a bit more rough as it switches back and forth across the mountainside, and a higher-clearance vehicle is recommended here, but not required. After a few switchbacks, you will soon see a radio repeater tower on the ridge to the left. An unimproved double-track road closed by a metal gate goes to this tower, and the gate is locked. Park near here as this is a good spot to begin the hike.
When you’re all geared up, hike up the weed-filled gravel road to the tower. At this point there is no obvious trail to take, but the route to the summit of Delano Peak is straighforward. As a general rule, stay on the ridgeline, and you’ll be fine. From the radio tower, head south, following the occasional game trail as you traverse along the contours of the ridge. You’re likely to see dozens upon dozens of mountain goats here, and find evidence of their passing in fallen wool that litters the ground.
The ridgeline hike goes up and down as it rolls over shoulders and through valleys, all the while revealing new views as you pass by canyons and cliffs that fall away on either side. The summit of Delano Peak is always in sight as you make your way toward her, and while the distance may seem far, the hike really is quite short.
After about two-and-a-half miles, and a short steep section at the very end, the goal is achieved. The summit of Delano Peak provides 360-degrees of scenery that shows just how rugged and impressive the Tushar range is, and reveals what everyone misses as they speed by on I-15 enroute to their destinations far below. To the north, other massive peaks rise from treeline, like Mount Belknap, and Mount Baldy. To the east, the greenery of an agricultural valley that surrounds Circleville and Junction shimmers below. And to the south and west, Eagle Point, Big Flat, the pines of Fishlake National Forest, and Brianhead can all be seen.
A summit register lives inside an old mailbox at the summit. After making your mark, choose your seat from the smooth rocks and enjoy a snack before beginning the descent back to the car.
Overall, Delano Peak is a relatively easy way to hike one of southern Utah’s highest mountains. While it can be strenuous as it ascends over 1,500 feet in two miles, there is nothing technical, and the sweeping viewpoints are totally worth the effort. Dogs are allowed, but be sure your four-legged friends isn’t the type to go chasing after wildlife, because the herds of mountain goats may be too much for some dogs brains to resist.
For more about the Tushar Mountains and another good place to set up camp, check out our article, Camping at Big Flat in the Tushar Mountains.