Weekend Backpacking Trips in the Uintas

Weekend Backpacking Trips in the Uintas

April 04, 2016

Find blissful solitude in three days, two nights.

Summer: you've long forgotten your skis, your topo maps are scattered in your extra junk room that was meant to be an office, and you really, really don't want to be stuck doing yard work every weekend this summer. That's right — go crazy and don't mow the lawn for a Saturday here and there. Worth every glare you'll get from the neighbors and their oh-so-perfect-they're-just-jealous lawns.

These six trails in the High Uintas are perfect for your next weekend adventure. Some are easier to get to; others are gratefully far, far away from civilization. Take your pick. And bring along your fishing pole. Because the Uintas have lakes and fish galore.

Fish Lake | Dry Fork Trailhead

9.4 miles round trip

TRAILHEAD: Located in Holiday Park. From Oakley, head east towards Smith & Morehouse on UT 32. Continue on the road through Thousand Peaks Ranch (do not turn right to go to Smith & Morehouse). Drive for a few miles on the dirt road, and the trailhead will be on your left in the Holiday Park area.

TRAIL: The trail is steep and rugged. You'll reach a river crossing after just a few miles. Then the trail heads southeast for 1.5 miles, and you'll arrive at Round Lake. Sand Lake is just 0.5 miles to the east, and another 0.5 miles to Fish Lake. To make the loop, the trail then heads up a steep hill to the west to a ridge. The trail drops off on the south side of the ridge to a logging road and back to the trailhead.

Island Lake | Crystal Lake Trailhead

8.7 miles round trip

TRAILHEAD: 32 miles east of Kamas, take the turn-off to Crystal Lake Trailhead.

TRAIL: The trail is moderately strenuous, but the views and scenery at this high elevation are filled with glaciated rocks and lots and lots and lots of lakes/ponds along the way. A good transitional hike for beginners who want more of a challenge. The area is crosshatched with many trails perfect for small day hikes.

Bench Lake | Bald Mountain Trailhead

5.6 miles round trip

TRAILHEAD: From Kamas, head east on Hwy 150 for 29.1 miles. Then go 0.5 miles past Bald Mountain Overlook and turn left into the parking lot.

TRAIL: Head west from the trailhead where you'll start downhill (uphill on the way out). You'll pass a few lakes before you get to Bench Lake (Clegg, Dean, Reids and Notch). There's fishing in all the lakes along the way so bring your pole if you want to fry up some fresh fish over the (contained) campfire.

North Erickson Lake | Big Elk Lake Trailhead

5.6 miles round trip

TRAILHEAD: You'll need 4WD to get to the end of the road where the trailhead is. From Kamas, drive 15 miles east on HWY150. The road will be on your left and is called "Norway Flats 035." There isn't a sign for cars headed east, but there is a sign for cars headed west. After 6 miles from the highway, turn right at the junction. Follow signs toward Big Elk Lake.

TRAIL: You'll pass a handful of lakes before you reach North Erickson Lake. After 0.3 miles, Little Elk Lake will be on your left. Big Elk Lake will come 0.8 miles later. South Erickson Lake is near North Erickson Lake, so you can camp at either one. Bring your pole for sure — the brook are huge and are as hungry as a bear in the early morning.

Swasey Lake | Center Park Trailhead

12 miles round trip

TRAILHEAD: A vehicle with 4WD is recommended. From Heber, drive east on US 40 for 69 miles to Duchesne. Turn north onto UT 87 for 14 miles until you get to Mountain Home. Follow Moon Lake Road north for 4 miles until you get to Yellowstone River Road. After 4 miles you'll get to Hells Canyon Road; drive another 7 miles on this road.

TRAIL: Hike for 6 blissful miles until you get to Swasey Lake. Brook and cuttthroat fish are waiting for you.

Reader Lake | Chepeta Lake Trailhead

8.4 miles round trip (and awesomely remote)

TRAILHEAD: From Heber, head east on US 40 for 99 miles to Roosevelt. Then turn north on 121 for 11 miles to Neola. Follow this road for 5 miles east. Then turn north at the junction. Drive 7 more miles to Road 117, and head east for 18 miles to Pole Creek Junction. Then take Road 110 for 11 miles north to the trailhead.

TRAIL: The Highline Trail starts south of Chepeta Lake. You'll head west for 2.3 miles and Sharlee Lake will appear. Turn right at both forks; Horseshoe Lake is 0.5 miles to the east, and Reader Lake is 1.5 miles north from the fork.