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Tukuhnikivatz, Peale & Mellenthin Peaks - Manti-La Sal National Forest

Summary: A strenuous off trail hike to the prominent peaks of Mounts Tukuhnikivatz, Peale & Mellenthin in the La Sal Mountains, each of which features incredible 360 degree views. The route begins in Gold Basin then follows the ridgeline between summits. It's best to avoid the peaks and ridgelines in the afternoon during the summer thunderstorm season due to the danger of lightening strikes.
Directions: From the town of Moab, UT head south out of town on Highway 191 and turn left onto Airport Road at the sign for the La Sal Mountain Loop Road. Drive 0.5 miles to the end of this road to a 'T' junction and turn right. Follow this paved road for 12 miles, then turn right onto Geyser Pass Road, which is also Forest Road (FR) #071, at the sign pointing towards Gold Basin. The road becomes well graded dirt as it winds its way up into the mountains. Drive 5.6 miles and turn right onto FR #0421. Continue 1.6 miles to the end of this road in Gold Basin and park.
Road Conditions: Passenger Car
Navigation: Moderate
Length: 6.5 miles
Date Hiked: July, 2007
Weather Conditions: Warm and sunny
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From the road end in Gold Basin, pick up a use trail that begins at the no motorized vehicle sign and follow it down to cross a stream at the base of Tuk No. Looking up from this point you will see a prominent treeless scree slope. This is your route to the Tuk No ridgeline. The slope is quite steep and covered with loose rocks. Stick to the areas where the rocks are largest and thus less prone to movement. Near the top of the slope, bend left to attain the ridgeline, which can be followed directly up to the summit of Tuk No. From this point, simply follow the obvious ridgeline to gain the 12,482 foot summit of Mount Tukuhnikivatz. From this vantage point you will be able to scout the route ahead for the remainder of the hike. Your route simply follows the ridgeline between peaks with a few detours thrown in to gain the summits of Mounts Peale and Mellenthin. When ready, descend Tukuhnikivatz to the east to a saddle below the unnamed peak marked 12,145 on the map. In order to gain the the top of this peak you must climb around or through several jagged cliffs that lie directly in line with the ridge. The scree along this section is particularly loose and the route steep. It's best to stay close to the jagged rocks since they provide some modicum of stability to the slope. I found this section to be the most difficult portion of the hike. Once on top of this summit, you can either continue north along the ridgeline, or perform a detour southeast to the summit of Mount Peale, which, at 12,721 feet, is the highest point in the range. The route to Mount Peale is distinct and relatively easy, providing a high return for the effort required to see it. When ready, continue your progress from the 12,145 foot peak along the ridgeline to the north heading over two minor summits (the second of these, marked 12,271 on the map is the steepest). From the top of the second summit you can use the prominent ridgeline leading east to begin your descent to Gold Basin, or continue north along the main ridge to the summit of Mount Mellenthin. There is a fairly distinct route all the way to the summit of the latter. After climbing Mellenthin, return to the base of the 12,271 foot peak and follow a fairly distinct track partially back up this hill. Veer right on a series of use trails to gain the ridgeline, which descends to the east back down towards Gold Basin. After descending the ridge past a weather station, leave the ridge to the left (southwest) and pick your way down the steep slope into the forest below to eventually return to Gold Basin and your vehicle.
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author completed the loop hike described above at a fast pace, pushing hard the entire way to beat the afternoon thunderstorms, in 8 hours.
Maps: Latitude 40 Maps - Moab East Utah Trails Recreation Topo Map
Click here for a map of the hike.
Books: Utah Mountaineering Guide 3rd Edition - Michael Kelsey
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
Ridgeline between Tuk No and
View from Tukuhnikivatz of the
ridge towards Mt. Peale.
Looking back towards Tukuhnikivatz
after climbing the
View from Peale of the ridgeline
to Mellenthin
Looking back towards Peale en route
to Mellenthin
The ridgeline heading towards
View looking back down the ridge
from Mellenthin
The ridge which can be followed
back down to Gold Basin.