The Pavant Range in central Utah is one of several mountain chains in Utah that few Utahns have heard of. They lack the sharp, glacier-sculpted peaks of the Wasatch and Uintahs. They lack the trout-filled alpine lakes that dot the nearby Fish Lake and Boulder Mountains. They lack the well-maintained, bikeable singletrack of the Markagunt Plateau. Their only claim to fame, perhaps, is the popular Paiute ATV that traverses the range and includes a number of side trails.
With no big attraction, it has taken me a while to explore the Pavants. But it had to be done. I frequently drive I-15 between Cedar City and Salt Lake and during the drive I study the passing ranges and wonder what may be hidden in their canyons and what the views are like from their summits. Over the years, I've checked just about all of the major ranges lining I-15 off of the list: the Markagunt Plateau, the Tushars, the Mineral Mountains, and the Wasatch's Nebo, Timp, and Lone Peaks. The Canyon Range near Scipio and the Pavants were next on the list and the Pavants won out simply because they are a little closer to home.
The plan was to complete an 80-mile traverse/loop by mountain bike starting and ending in Kanosh. I would ride from Kanosh to Fillmore, up Fillmore Canyon, then head south on the Paiute ATV trail (graveled road really) along the range crest, hit the range's summit (and Millard County high point Mine Camp Peak at 10,222 ft), continue south, and finally descend Kanosh Canyon. Total elevation gain would be a whopping 9,000 feet.
|The Chalk Creek "Hieroglyphs" above a small cave near the mouth of Fillmore Canyon. There are a lot of odd-ball theories about the origin of these carvings that were first discovered in 1939. My guess is that they are an elaborate 100-year-old hoax to excite the locals. I've inspected similar carvings at Cedar City, and there are supposedly many others throughout the West. The Chalk Creek Glyphs unfortunately turned from hoax to tragedy when some men interpreted the writings as directions to nearby buried gold plates. Three men working in the subsequent mining operation were killed by the accumulation of toxic fumes in two separate accidents, one in 1966 , and another in 1967. Nothing of value was ever found.|
|Chalk Creek Hieroglyphs.|
|The Cretaceous-age Canyon Range Conglomerate has formed many spectacular cliffs in upper Fillmore Canyon.|
|Fall color lingers high in Cedar Springs Canyon--a tributary to Fillmore Canyon.|
|I'm nearly to the top of the summit ridge here.|
|The nondescript White Pine Peak--just 7 feet lower than nearby Mine Camp Peak.|
|At less than a mile round trip, I had no issues hiking in my biking shoes to Mine Camp Peak. A trail register is hidden in the summit cairn.|
|The summit register at Mine Camp Peak.|
|View of Fillmore some 5,000 vertical feet below.|
|Is this man-made excavation in the Cambrian-aged Ophir Formation near the saddle leading to Mine Camp Peak how the summit got its name?|
|Postal Service at 9,700 feet.|
|Looking south into upper Paul's Canyon in the Pavant Range.|
This was a LONG day in the saddle at nearly 12 hours. I worried that I'd be eating dust kicked up by ATV'ers scouting out deer for the upcoming rifle hunt, but I only saw two ATVs and two trucks all day. The fall colors were still pretty outstanding and the descent down an ATV trail in Middle Horseflat Canyon excited as the sun set.
The Pavants are an excellent example of a scenic range that should not be overlooked just because they lack a major attraction.