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Brian Head

OK, so this isn't really a hike. But wandering around the area will give you some bragging rights: At 11,307 feet above sea level, it's the high peak in Iron County and is the most accessible highpoint in southern Utah.

Trail rating: *

Scenic rating: ****

Distance: A three-mile drive on a gravel road off U-143.

Elevation gain: About 750 feet off the paved road.

Difficulty: Easy

Time required: An hour sidetrip from Cedar Breaks.

Directions to reach the trailhead: Take the Parowan I-15 exit and go east toward Brian Head Ski Resort on U-143. This is the state's steepest paved road at 13 percent. For a less steep climb, take U-14 east of Cedar City.

If you're coming from the north (Parowan way) turn left/east just beyond mile marker 17 onto a dirt road. If you're coming from the south (Cedar City), turn right/east almost a mile past milepost 18. A sign marks the turnoff.

Go east three miles to the summit.

Road description: It's a good gravel road for cars, but it is usually not open before June. Snow can block the road as early as October.

Cost/charges: none

Cautions: People with respiratory problems and those coming from sea-level elevations should exercise caution when getting out of a car at more than 11,000 feet above sea level.

If you're visiting the area in the spring or fall, check road conditions first. Also, avoid being on the peak during storms. The only cover on the peak is a shelter built in 1935 by the CCC.

Tidbits: This is only one of three Utah county highpoints you can drive to in a car. The other two are Blue Bell Knoll in Wayne County (11,328 feet) and Monument Peak in Carbon County (10,452).

The mountain was originally called Monument Peak but later named for William Jennings Bryan, a former presidential candidate.

Brian Head's distinctive shape can be seen clearly from most places around Parowan.

The town of Brian Head — at 9,700 feet above sea level — is the highest in Utah.

Highlights: The view is spectacular, and short walks around the flat summit are easy.

The most unusual view is to the southwest, where Cedar Breaks is visible on the clear day. Much of southern Utah and some of Nevada may also be seen.

Camping: Available at Cedar Breaks National Monument; Vermillion Castle, above Parowan; and three private places in Cedar City, and two in Parowan.

Water: None available. Obtain water from Cedar Breaks or Brian Head.

For more information: Call the Cedar City Ranger district, 1-435-865-3200.


E-MAIL: lynn@desnews.com