At 11,928 feet, Mount Nebo has the highest peak of the Wasatch Mountain Range, followed by Mount Timpanogos' peak which stands 179 feet lower.
Mountain Nebo’s peaks are close enough to the Wasatch for a day’s trip, and yet far enough off the beaten path so as not to feel so crowded. The stunning views it offers, both from the hike and the summit have made it one of the most favorite attractions in the area.
In the fall, the turning and falling leaves along the Nebo Loop can only be described as epic. For a moment, you might think you are in a magical world! The trail leads to a wilderness area, from which the visitors are encouraged to absorb and enjoy nature.
Well, that explains why Mount Nebo has always been recognized as a ‘source of life’ since the early settlers’ days.
With over 3000 feet gain, it is considered a strenuous hike and it would be better if you were well prepared for it. The first 8-9 miles are not that harsh and most visitors cover it without much of a hassle. Beyond that point, an elevation gain comes all at once in two short sections – making it a complete thigh-buster.
Be prepared to carry your own water pack since there are no natural water sources along the trail. Also, make sure that you keep an eye out for the storms that sometimes hit the summit. They can be quite harsh – and there have been some funny incidents in which they were reported to chase visitors off the summit. You can best avoid them by starting your hike early in the morning.
Along the trail, it is highly likely that you will come across wildlife, bighorn sheep and deer – which are a frequent sighting in the area. You better keep an eye out for them too.
Mount Nebo Trailhead
Take the exit 250 for UT-115 toward Payson and head south on Main Street for 0.8 miles, then turn left on 100 North. Follow 100 North for approximately 0.5 miles and turn right on the 600 East.
Once on the Nebo Loop road, drive for about 24 miles until you reach the Nebo Bench/Monument Trail on the right. But instead of pulling into the Monument Trail, turn left and follow the Mona Pole Road for 0.4 miles. You will come across a trailhead and a decent camping spot right across the road.
You can start hiking from there, or you can follow the fence-line for another 3 miles to a second parking area – slightly closer to your destination.
From the trailhead, follow the signed trail 089 up the mountain. It is hard to miss since it follows the fence line. The North Peak should be the first objective and you should be able to see it to the west.
As you follow the trail, it meanders up losing a little elevation, before beginning to gain elevation once more and leaving the fence. The trail leads south along the North Peak ridge briefly and then contours off the west to Wolf Pass.
At Wolf Pass, you can enjoy stunning views toward Ephraim and also catch your breath before the final trek.
The final trail climbs steeply on the ridge and leads to a false summit – from where the ridge transverse begins. The trail is rocky steep and can be quite treacherous. It is not a surprise that most visitors hiking the trail tend to turn back at this point. Nonetheless, it is worth it continuing to the actual summit – especially if it’s your very first time.
Other scenic attractions along the Nebo Loop
For 37 miles, the Nebo Loop climbs up through narrow forested canyons, open land of ridges, plateaus, and trails – including an overview of the Nebo Creek in the East and Utah Valley/Lake in the Northwest.
Other highlights that are hard to miss along the Nebo Loop scenic way include, the Devil's Kitchen and the Payson Lakes. Many visitors heading to Mount Nebo often extend their vacation by heading to these two locations.
The Nebo Loop road heads due north along the valley, past several farm buildings and into the Uinta National Forest where all development stops. From there, you will pass the Jenkins Flat Interpretive Site and a junction with a side road heading to the southern Mount Nebo Trailhead.
The elevation increases at the head of the valley as the road becomes narrow and winding. Just a little bit further, you will first overlook the Salt Creek Valley and the San Pitch Mountains, before reaching the parking area of the Devil's Kitchen geologic area.
The access trail is just a quarter mile long and leads to a railed viewpoint on the edge of an eroded ravine containing a collection of pointed conglomerate formations. Devil's Kitchen has been called ‘overwhelming’ because the rocks are quite a sight – which are made even more colorful when they contrast with the dark greens of the enclosing trees.
Even before you start the tedious hike towards Mount Nebo, you can still enjoy the view of the dramatic peak while you drive along the northern side of the uneven terrain. Nebo Bench Trail off the summit is located a little further along the drive.
Along the northern side of the road, you will come across more viewpoints such as the 10,913 foot Bald Mountain, Utah Valley, and Beaver Dam. Further up, you will come across the three Payson Lakes – which is the only sighting that requires a day use fee. You can, however, save your cash by parking along the Highway and walking a short distance west.
Beyond that, the road begins its descent a few miles north of the lake and drops steeply down into Payson Canyon. After a short, level stretch along the valley floor, you will eventually emerge at the South-east edge of Payson.