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Northern La Sals loop, UT
mini location map2022-07-03
4 by photographer avatarShatteredArm
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Northern La Sals loop, UT 
Northern La Sals loop, UT
Run/Jog16.44 Miles 4,919 AEG
Run/Jog16.44 Miles   5 Hrs   31 Mns   3.07 mph
4,919 ft AEG      10 Mns Break
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Joined some friends for the 4th weekend camping at Mason Draw, which despite only having 5 campsites and accessible by any vehicle, never filled up. The La Sals are probably the mountain range outside of AZ I have explored most thoroughly, having run a 50 miler there 7 years ago and a 100 miler 4 years ago. I decided to utilize some trails I already knew, and connect Miner's Basin to Mann's Peak via a couple of 12k feet summits.

There were thunderstorms when I arrived, and the forecast called for a chance of storms after noon, but possibly as early as nine, so that was on my mind. Started out down a little stretch of the Jimmy Keen loop to connect to the La Sal Loop Road, and ran pavement for about a mile to the Miner's Basin road. I thought the climb up to Miner's Basin would be enjoyable with daylight and legs that didn't have 61 miles on them, but it wasn't. At least the scenery made it somewhat worthwhile, Miner's Basin is pretty, and has healthy aspen trees unlike the ones by the loop road.

The actual Miner's Basin trail was more overgrown than I remembered. This part of the trail is labeled as FR4681 on the FS topo maps, but it has been closed to vehicle traffic beyond the lake for, well, at least 7 years. What the old map does not show is that this old road continues all the way up to the saddle between Green Mountain and Pilot Mountain, which are also not on the FS map (basically, it's a very unreliable map). The part where it departs from the Miner's Basin aka Trans-La Sal trail and heads east was new to me, and this was a very enjoyable little canyon. Some deadfall to contend with, but eventually it tops the tree line and the views are phenomenal.

Quickly went up Green Mountain, where there was a weather station or something. I originally planned on doing Mt. Waas, and the route turned out to be very obvious from the Green Mountain summit, but there was a threatening-looking cloud looming behind Pilot Mountain and I got a little worried about how long it would take to get back below the tree line if I had to. But for those looking at exploring some La Sal summits, it would've been about an extra ~0.6 miles each way, and probably about 600 feet more climbing.

Headed to Pilot Mountain, and enjoyed what I thought were slightly better views than Green Mountain. The drop down to the Mann's Peak/Mill Creek trail looked a bit steep, but luckily it was solid footing the whole way down. I ended up passing on Mann's Peak this time because (a) I was tired and (b) I've already been up there. So I headed down Mill Creek, and actually got a few sprinkles on the way down to Warner Lake. It ended up not amounting to much, though.

At the lake I ran into a couple members of the camping group who were debating whether to go up and over into Miner's Basin, which I recommended, but they ended up joining me on the shorter way, down Hazzard County trail.

Felt a bit rough, but I always enjoy getting up into the La Sals. If I could have a do-over, I'd skip that stupid road climb and either do a loop from the end of the road, or (this would be your passenger car option) start from Warner Lake. The intrepid adventurer could put together a nice little route featuring summits of Gold Knob, Green Mountain, Mount Waas, Pilot Mountain, and Mann's Peak, and even try and throw in Castle Mountain and La Sal Peak, which I think looked pretty straightforward.
 Named place
 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  La Sal Peak  Mount Waas

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