Signal Peak (Utah)


By: Mark Adrian


Three of my fundamental rules while out climbing are to 1) break up the sometimes long and arduous drives (by climbing "anything" convenient along the way); 2) never drive at night and 3) prioritize Happy Hour. During this particular excursion, I had spent a week climbing Nevada range highpoints (Troy Peak and North Schell are both great range highpoints) in the Ely[Wheeler area before climbing several CO l4ers amidst a lot of poor weather there.

Prior to departure, I had asked Barbara Lilley and Gordon MacLeod for some suggestions on highpoints to climb that were "convenient" to I-15 for the return drive from CO. One of a couple of their suggestions I acted on was the particularly scenic Signal Peak, highpoint of the Pine Valley Mountains and also the highpoint of Washington County, UT. This is the dominant range you'll see as you travel on 115, just north of Saint George, UT, on your way to Zion. The range is embedded within the Pine Valley Mountains Wilderness which is itself within the Dixie National Forest. Several trails penetrate this well-forested range, but Gordon advised I use the trailhead located just southeast of the small town of Pine Valley, to the north of the peak. This was simple enough to get to, all paved roads, but I opted to camp out on USFS lands rather than the campgrounds near the trailhead.

Having been chased around CO by rain and lightening the previous week, I was thrilled to have a perfectly sterling day for this mostly-trail hike. Best of all, I saw no one all day and had the entire area seemingly to myself. The hike is virtually all on trail, with thick forests, lush meadows and spectacular views providing an enjoyable dayhike with an ample workout to make you feel satisfied. The views from the summit look toward the Virgin Mountains and Moapa. Wandering around the summit's "edges" however, you can spot glimpses of Zion's towering formations to the east and the Rim Country to the south. This peak would make a nice complement to the Guardian Angels while you're in that area.

Next day, I climbed McFarland Peak per Bob Micheal's recent Sage report. This is an excellent peak in the Spring Mountains and I recommend it. I found several primitive campspots near (a couple of miles from) the trailhead where the connector road to NV 157 leaves NV 156 to the south, drive no more the 0.1 miles and be looking for a dirt pullout on the left/east. At its eastern-most side, the pullout converges to a dirt road off of which are numerous pullouts in the pinyon forest suitable for carcamping.

DRIVE: From St. George, UT, take UT 18 through Veyo, then on to Central and turn right/east on FR035 which heads to the small town of Pine Valley, UT. Continue southeast out of Pine Valley for perhaps three or so miles to the signed turnoff ("T" intersection) for Brown Point Trailhead which is clustered in with several nearby campgrounds. Turn right/southwest, passing through campgrounds (water and latrines here) and continue a short distance to a small parking area and the trailhead. PARK at 6,900' Be sure you have plenty of water as I only found marginal pools to filter from this time of the year.

HIKE: Follow the Brown Point trail as it switchbacks south then straight up a ridgeline to the 9,800' contour where the trail drops 400' then continues south along a seasonal creek to a signed fork. Continue south another 0.25 mile to another signed fork, then head west through Deer Flat and (dropping a couple hundred feet) Further Water. About half mile southwest of Further Water, you'll want to head cross country through sparse forest to the summit. There was a large cairn alongside the trail at this takeoff point and it's prudent to follow a compass bearing.

RT STATS: 4,100' (ascent) + 600' (descent): 4,700' gain, 8 miles. I took 3 hours up and 2 down, with at least an hour on the summit. Register in good condition.

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