More Exploring in the Fishlake Mountains
What turned out to be the last trip to the Fishlake Mountains this year wasn’t a trip with particular destination – I mainly wanted to explore some different areas to scout out hikes, show Tom some of the fantastic colors I had seen when I was hiking the Skyline Trail the other day, and also see if the road up to Big John Flat was going to be passable for my Honda Civic after being warned off by a forest ranger a couple days earlier (it would have been fine though we went that day in Tom’s higher clearance vehicle). Driving up the canyon into the mountains was even more colorful than it had been just a few days ago and we were both awed by the vibrant colors painted across the mountains. This time however I was a passenger so I got to take a few snapshots as we drove.
After driving up the canyon we turned off on the dirt-gravel FR-123 which climbed the last thousand feet or so up to Big John Flat at about 10,000 feet. Big John Flat is the location of the other trailhead for the Skyline Trail (and not to be confused with Big Flat which lies on the other side of the peaks of the Tushar Mountains) but it’s also just a beautiful area, filled with meadows and surrounded by high peaks. We parked and started walking here not only because I’d been told that the road gets rough after this point but also because it was just a gorgeous area to hike a bit. We walked a little over a mile along the road and meadows before randomly deciding to hike up one of the mountain slopes in order to get some views of the foliage. I seriously can’t get enough of these open meadows and peaks with 360 degree views. I’m totally in love with your mountains, Utah.
After exploring for awhile we made our way back to SR-153, up and over the mountain pass, and continued through the high meadows on the east side of the range. The aspen-lined meadows stretched on for miles (which, presumably is why this are is called Big Flat) but soon we began our gradual descent through thick spruce and fir forest. Here, at about 9,000 feet we saw a big ‘ol elk trampling through the trees but he was too quick for me to get a picture. I had caught a mule deer laying net to the road earlier though but elk are way cooler.
We made a couple more brief stops, the last one right before the road dropped down from the mountains. Here we saw the last splashes of neon yellow aspen leaves that were just beginning their transition, set against the greens and golden yellows on the slopes beyond. We walked a short way up the hills for the heck of it too. Though I had grand plans to do other hikes in the high peaks, snow came two days later, closing the dirt and gravel roads and laying ice on SR-153. I’ve filed a half dozen hikes away though; these mountains are definitely calling me.