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  Mount Waas

Mount Waas, LaSal Mountains, Utah
Dennis Clark descends Mount Waas
©David Rose
Total Distance: 10.5 miles roundtrip
Hiking Time: 1 day, overnight an option
Rating: Difficult
Starting Elevation: 7,090 feet
Summit:: 12,331 feet
Elevation Gain: 5,240 feet
Maps: USGS 7.5" Maps: Mount Waas and Warner Lake; USGS 1:100,000 Map: Moab


As Grand County's high point, Mount Waas is the fourth tallest of Utah's county peaks. It's also one of the harder county peaks, depending on your route. You'll see fantastic views of other nearby LaSal Summits as well as desert panaramas.

The route here goes up Bachelor Basin, and is described fully in the book High in Utah.

We found the directions were accurate. However, I've added my own route notes here. They are not meant to be used alone -- they will make more sense if you have the High in Utah book. If you plan to do all or many of Utah's county peaks, I'd recommend getting the book.

To read about other routes for Waas and nearby peaks (not described in High in Utah) click here.

Directions to Trailhead

Drive north out of Moab on U.S. Highway 191 for 2.3 miles. Just before crossing the Colorado River, turn right (east) on Utah Highway 128, which runs right next to the Colorado, with beautiful views of the river as well as the redrock canyon walls. In about 15 1/2 miles, turn right at the signs to Castle Valley and LaSal Loop Road. At 10.7 miles you'll reach a junction. Go straight (east) for another 1.6 miles. You can find parking next to the cattle guard and corral, or immediately before the cattle guard on an old, short dead-end side road. There's also a stream here for water if you need to camp.
Route/Trail Notes

For much of the route in the lower elevations, you'll be following a mix of one-and-two track trails (old roads). I recommend a map and compass, as it can get confusing.

From the car park, you'll find the beginning of the trail by walking through the corral with two green-colored gates. After about 1.5 miles, you'll arrive at a junction. An old road blocked by logs goes left. Stay to the right.

Eventually the trail meets up with a wider, smooth road/track. Turn right on this road.

You may lose the trail at some point. If so, you can catch the route again at an obvious "morainelike rock glacier" -- the trail is in the trees to your right.

Again, the trail may be hard to follow... just stay in the central portion of the drainage if in doubt.

The next junction is with the Trans-LaSal Trail (with a sign), heading off to the right. Stay left.

Later you'll pass by the road to Miner's Basin, going right. Again, stay left. In this area there are remnants of several old miners' cabins. You might also see a profusion of colorful and interesting mushrooms -- we did this hike in September and the area was surpisingly wet, practically a rain-forest.

The best route up to the summit starts in or next to a steep gully on your left very near the end of the road you're hiking on, and near the head of the drainage.

If you continue a short distance past the gully to the head of the drainage, you'll see a spring that has formed a small pond. You could camp in this area if you had to, but flat spots may be hard to come by. (You'll also notice a pass southwest of Waas, directly above the pond... not to be confused with the recommended route described in this review).

Go up the aforementioned gully (or the adjacent slopes), then make your way up to the pass northwest of Waas. This is by far the hardest part of the climb. It gets very steep in sections. Once on the ridgetop, you can pick up a faint trail that goes the last 1/2 mile and 700 vertical feet to the summit.

There are several really nifty rock-wall shelters on the summit. People say there are fantastic views as well (the summit was in a thick cloud when we arrived!).

Other Tips/Notes

If you're climbing all of Utah's county peaks, you might consider extending your trip to climb Mount Peale, also in the LaSal Mountains.

 Recommended Books
High Uintas BackcountryHigh in Utah
Engagingly written two to three page descriptions of each hike including basic statistics, how to get to the trailhead, tips and precautions, directions on reaching the summit and a brief background on each peak. Times are estimated for both slow and quick hikers. The better of the two Utah county peak books in print.

Get it at Amazon.com

More books about Utah mountains

 Utah Mountains
Highest Peak in Each County
Great Western Trail
Uinta Mountains
Wasatch Range
Northern Utah Mountains
Central Southern Mountains
Isolated Ranges

Landform Map of Utah
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High Uintas Guidebook
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A Guide to Climbing the 13,000-Foot Peaks of the High Uintas