I read things online about Mt. Nebo that turned out to be so false so here is what you actually need to know about bagging this beast.
I feel deceived by All Trails so let me first come out and say this hike is 12.4 miles out and back and not 8.5. PROOF:
Nebo is higher than Mt. Timp so a good amount of those miles were straight stair stepping. Sounds surprising I know but Nebo is in fact 180 feet taller. Online posts talked casually about this mountain so I was expecting a half day hike but we ended up going 9-5. It was no joke. My mom came with us and she had flown in from California so the altitude was killer.
We camped the night before to be closer to the trail head. Camping on Nebo loop road is one of my favorites. There are always random spots that you can pull off into and for me growing up in a city, Utah sometimes feels like the Wild West to me. To be able to camp wherever and not need permits? It's amazing. There are some cute family campsites from the Santaquin entrance but we camped by Jones Ranch Trail which is about 14 miles from the Payson entrance. We saw fire pits everywhere so we just chose a spot. We got lucky with no one else being there besides some cow friends.
To be honest I did not grow up the biggest camping fan. My family was always the Holiday Inn type but when I moved to Utah I learned the joke was on me. I discovered car camping and I was converted. ESPECIALLY when you get a cot. Our cots are from Teton Sports and they are a dream. Combine that with their sleeping bag AND self inflating sleeping pad, I truly sleep better with these things than in my own bed. We have even set this all up in our backyard and slept back there. If you are looking to upgrade your camping kit, these cots are a MUST. It is worth finding space in your trunk for. It's even offered on Amazon Prime so if I was able to convince you, you can grab this setup before your weekend trip.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Payson: Once you get to Nebo Loop Road, drive about 24 miles til you find Monument Trailhead. There is a parking lot right there with a bathroom. This is NOT the trailhead but always good for a bathroom break. There is a dirt road that takes off to the right before the parking lot and that is where you want to go. Follow that to a parking lot and you will see the trail take off over the hillside.
I think Mt. Nebo confirmed that hiking will always be a love/hate for me. I'm still working on the cardio athlete thing, luge was a power sport and we never had to run. Blessed. I will hike to check it off the list or to spend time with the people I love but dang, I don't think I will go back to visit Nebo anytime soon. I was expecting around 6 hours, leg burn here and there but I was pushed past my comfort zone. Blessed. Hence the face.
The hike starts out pretty normal then you will come to a climb that will put you on top of the ridge. Follow the ridge and you will see two peaks. They call the first one the North Summit or False Summit. It is straight switch backs to get up there. Everyone kept telling us Nebo summit was easier than the North one but I disagree. Nebo summit was majority scrambling and you are on all fours towards the end of it. You can see the different peaks pretty clearly from the first ridge.
When you get to the first peak, Nebo does not look too far away but just make sure you are drinking enough water so you don't get dizzy and misstep. It was a lot more sketchy than I was told. It pretty dang beautiful on that first summit so if you decide that was enough, I don't blame you.
As we neared the top we found ourselves climbing on all fours but once you are over that part you are a minute away from the peak. It was so worth it.
We clocked in at around 4:30 hours. We took a lot of stops and had a few snack breaks. As we were climbing down, some trail runners passed and they said they got to the top in about 1:30. Bye Felicia.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Prepare for a long stay, we passed hikers that confirmed Nebo was in fact more difficult than hiking timp. I haven't hiked Timp so I'll just agree with them.
Don't underestimate the elevation, it can get a little scary when you are scrambling on shale and you realize how long the fall is
Bring a jacket for the top, it is super windy
WHAT I LEARNED
Hiking is still a love hate
It is better to have no expectations and enjoy the journey than to know how far you have left
My mom is a champ
Walk flat footed and control your breath. Way more efficient than powering through the hills and stopping to catch your breath