Burro Pass

Round Trip Distance: 7.1 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 9,333 - 11,150 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 4 hrs.
Trailhead: Warner Lake
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike/bike, scenic views

The Burro Pass trail is located in the Manti-La Sal National Forest near Moab, Utah. The trail begins near the Warner Lake Campground where it climbs the Wet Fork of Mill Creek to a saddle between Manns Peak and Haystack Mountain. This post follows the trail as far as Burro Pass. The trail can be continued for about another mile down to the Geyser Pass Road. Burro Pass is the first leg of the Whole Enchilada trail that runs all the way down to Moab.

To get the Warner Campground from Moab drive south on Highway 191, measuring from Center and Main, for 7.8 miles and turn left onto the Old Airport Road. Follow the signs for the La Sal Mtn. Loop Road for another 15 miles and turn right onto Forest Road 0063, the Warner Lake Road. It is about 5 miles along a graveled road to the Warner Campground after turning off of the La Sal Mtn. Loop Road.

From the Warner Campground follow the trail past the lake for about a quarter mile to the beginning of the Burro Pass trail.

As the trail starts out it crosses an irrigation ditch and then continues on a good singletrack.

For the most part the trail travels through tall stands of aspen trees and conifers.

Cows graze in the area but there are also a few deer to be seen. On this day we happened to spot a pheasant that appeared to be making herself an easy target while her chicks scurried for cover. Target for the camera that is.

At the 1 mile point the trail crosses the irrigation ditch again. The Burro Pass trail is part of the Whole Enchilada trail. Mountain bikers take shuttle rides to the top of the Whole Enchilada where the Burro Pass trail meets the Geyser Pass Road. On this day there were a couple dozen bikers coming down the trail. They all had big grins on their faces for some reason.

The first creek crossing comes up at the 1.25 mile point.

There is another creek crossing after a short distance and then the trail gets a little rockier as it passes by a talus slope beneath the Mountain View trail overlook. As it leaves that behind it comes to a fork in the canyon at the 1.8 mile point where the left fork marks the beginning of the Dry Fork trail. As the Burro Pass trail continues to the right it makes yet another creek crossing.

The trail crosses the creek 2 or 3 more times as it continues up Wet Fork. Occassionaly the trail finds an open meadow to cross.

As higher elevations are reached the aspen trees thin out and the conifers become more prevalent. Here the trail is made rough by rocks and a healthy growth of tree roots. The rest of the trail isn't all rocks and roots but there are a few spots like this one that are a little rough.

The last section of the trail before reaching Burro Pass gets quite a bit steeper. There are several switchbacks that help with the climb but there are also a couple of straightaways that are pretty steep. Up to this point the trail grade has been fairly moderate.

The views from Burro Pass are pretty nice. It is interesting that the La Sal Mountains are visible from many places in western Colorado and eastern Utah. It is kind of neat to be standing high up in the La Sals where you can look out and try to spot some of those other far off places. The trail continues down the east side of the pass for about a mile or so to the Geyser Pass Road. There is also a trail to the left that goes to Manns Peak and to Dry Fork. For this post we turned around at the pass and headed back down to Warner Lake.

The Burro Pass trail gets a lot of use from mountain bikers going in the downhill direction. We hiked it for this post and while we were at it we met a couple other groups of hikers. It is easy to get your feet at least a little wet with all of the creek crossings. The flow should slow down as the summer wears on. Mountain bikers can roll through the creeks with no trouble. Hikers will find that trekking poles can come in real handy to keep your balance on the rocks and logs. Other than that the Burro Pass trail is as pleasant a forest hike as you could ask for. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.