FATMAP difficulty grade
The La Sal Mountains are a well-known summertime retreat near Moab, rising to more than 12,000 feet in what is otherwise hot desert.
With an abundance of forest roads and some campgrounds, most people go for scenic driving and camping in the cool air.
What’s often overlooked, however, is the hiking.
The La Sals have trails, though they are admittedly not as well developed as they could be. The Trans La Sal is noteworthy, however, because it spans much of the range from south to north.
It’s not a singular trail, but connects other trails and forest roads to complete its route.
Though it doesn’t cross over any peaks or break above treeline, the scenery is still impressive.
The trail weaves into canyons and over passes, sometimes in leafy forest and sometimes among wide open views.
With snow-streaked peaks above and red-rock desert below, the route straddles the lush subalpine, shaded with aspens and colored by flowery meadows. The trail is not well known or well marked, so attention to navigation is key.
Study the map to know where to leave vehicles at the start and finish (setting shuttle is required) because the trailheads are not signed.
Wild camping is allowed anywhere, but good spots can be hard to find because of topography and prevalence of cattle.
Most of the forest is open to grazing, and if even if the animals are absent their excrement will be evident, so all water should be treated.
Small streams are generally abundant, though they’re typically not located near spots that are flat and open for camping. Due to the logistical difficulties and certain other drawbacks to this trail, it is more conducive for long day hikes or ultrarunning than for backpacking, though multi-day trips are certainly still worthwhile.
For the right type of adventure seeker, this trail presents the perfect challenge.
Those who want to get off the beaten path or want a wild endurance challenge can find it on the Trans La Sal.