Hike of the week: Conquering Mount Nebo

Hike of the week: Conquering Mount Nebo

(Autumn colors, and Mt. Nebo. Mt. Nebo Scenic Loop. - Photo Submitted by Layne Naylor)

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NEPHI — South of Spanish Fork, Mount Nebo’s 5,000-foot climb to its south summit has taken a place as one of central Utah’s most prized hikes.

This demanding trek can be done in one or two days, depending on the hiker’s pace, according to “Hiking Utah” by Bill Schneider. Ascending to the high peaks and ridges on the mountain rewards eager hikers with spectacular views of the Wasatch Mountains, Utah Valley, the Uintas and the Manti-LaSal National Forest.

Getting there

From Salt Lake City, hikers should drive down Interstate 15 until they reach Nephi, at which point they will head east on Highway 132 for about six miles, according to “Hiking Utah.” Then, turn left onto Mount Nebo Scenic Byway and bear left onto Forest Road 48 after 3.3 miles. Drive another 1.5 miles on Forest Road 48 until reaching the Nebo Bench Trailhead on the left side (designated with a sign).

Trailhead coordinates: (39.8482, -111.722)

Trail facts

The Mount Nebo hike begins at the Nebo Bench Trailhead in the Mount Nebo Wilderness Area, according to “Hiking Utah.” This 11-mile out-and-back (5.5 miles to the peak) is considered strenuous and may be broken up into a two-day backpacking trip to make it more doable.

A forested, mountainous trail, Mount Nebo is ideal to hike from late spring until late fall, according to “Hiking Utah.” There are no fees or permits required to recreate on wilderness land, so hikers can go any time without need to plan ahead.

Mount Nebo; By K. Bradley Washburn, Shutterstock
Mount Nebo; By K. Bradley Washburn, Shutterstock


From the trailhead, hikers simply need to follow the signed trail to the summit, according to Utah.com. The beginning portion of the hike takes the trekker through a series of steep switchbacks through thickets of sage and maple-oak.

In the first mile, hikers gain about 1,400 feet in elevation until they enter a sagebrush meadow, according to “Hiking Utah”. Another set of steep switchbacks will take the hiker another 0.5 mile until the trail splits into two major routes. The two trails meet up after about half a mile so, with the left ascending the south slope of Andrew’s Ridge and the right continuing near the ridge.

Continue straight until reaching the third of three consecutive basins, where the trail forks, “Hiking Utah” said. Turn left at the trailhead and ascend the steep slope to a saddle, then head north along the ridge for a mile and a half until reaching the summit. The trail along the narrow ridgeline is rocky and steep, so Utah.com suggests that those bold enough to push to the summit be extremely careful on the treacherous terrain.

The final stretch presents spectacular views of surrounding mountain ranges and basins, according to “Hiking Utah.” At the far southern end of the summit, a beautiful alpine meadow is a nice place to relax before scrambling along other surrounding peaks.

To get home, simply hike back down the same way, Utah.com said.

Summit coordinates: (39.8216228, -111.7599311)

Mount Nebo is the highest peak in the Wasatch Mountains, sitting at a towering 11,928 feet, Utah.com said. Despite its strenuous nature, this hike presents views of wildlife, plants, expansive landscapes and mountain ridgelines which are worth the effort.

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Cara MacDonald enjoys both engaging in outdoor recreation and writing about it. Born and raised in Utah, Cara enjoys skiing, rock climbing, hiking and camping. She is passionate about both learning about and experiencing the outdoors, and helping others to learn about and explore nature. She primarily writes Outdoors articles centering around wildlife and nature, highlighting adventure opportunities, and sharing tips and tricks for outdoor recreation.


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