Boren Mesa

Round Trip Distance: 5.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 8783 - 9347 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 4 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Lake Oowah
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike/bike, deer, elk

The Boren Mesa trail is located in the La Sal Mountains east of Moab, Utah. Beginning at Lake Oowah and ending at the Geyser Pass Road the trail forms a segment of the much longer Trans La Sal trail that stretches from Bachelor Basin, on the north end of the La Sals, to the far side of South Mountain on the other end. The Boren Mesa trail sees a mix of hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. The first mile of the trail is often times combined with the Clark Lake trail to create a loop that begins and ends at Lake Oowah.

To get to the Oowah Campground drive south out of Moab on Highway 191, measuring 7.8 miles from the intersection of Center and Main, and turn left onto the Old Airport Road. The turnoff is marked by a sign for the La Sal Mtn. Loop Road. Follow the loop road for 12.3 miles and turn right at the sign for the Oowah Campground. Follow the now graveled road for about 3 miles to the campground. The Boren Mesa trail begins on the west side of the dam.

The trail starts out a little steep and rocky as it climbs the side of the mountain above Lake Oowah heading toward Boren Mesa. Early in the year there can be a little water running down portions of the trail in which case the rocks make it easier to keep your feet dry.

After only a few hundred yards the climb starts to level off somewhat as it squeezes past a rocky outcrop that is part of a band of cliffs that forms a scenic layer that wraps around the western flanks of the La Sal Mountains just below the 9,000 foot level.

The route becomes much smoother around the quarter mile point where the trail goes through a fence.

Just past the 3/4 mile point the Clark Lake Loop branches off on the left.

This is probably the most pleasant part of the trail as it passes through the tall groves of aspens that adorn this part of Boren Mesa.

The trail leaves the shelter of the trees and crosses the open mesa. At this point it is crossed by an old 4x4 road that according to the sign also leads over to the Geyser Pass Road.

From here the trail makes a big descent into the next basin. The trail is very rocky in places and a bit overgrown at times by the oakbrush that carpets the side of the mountain.

Just under the 2 mile point the trail crosses Horse Creek as it levels off below a cascade.

After a short climb after crossing Horse Creek the trail transitions back to an easier route that is once again dominated by a forest of aspens.

The trail comes to an end at the Geyser Pass Road. The trailhead for the Squaw Springs trail, which is the next segment of the Trans La Sal trail, is just across the road.

While hiking we encountered a few deer and a small herd of elk. We passed a bear that was thrashing away from us through the tall oak brush near a pile of fresh scat that it had left in the middle of the trail. Bees swarmed around a very large hive that was hanging off of a branch near the trail.

There's the climb out of Horse Creek Basin up to Boren Mesa to look forward to on the way back but it is only a short distance and then it becomes easy again. The total elevation gain for the Boren Mesa trail is around 1,650 feet if you are round tripping it. On the day that we hiked it for this post it was overcast and we ended up having to wear our raincoats for a short while on the return trip. All in all it was very pleasant and a nice break from the August desert heat in the valleys below and that is the best reason for visiting the La Sals in the summertime. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.