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Monday, September 1, 2014

A Hike in the High Uintas

This weekend was my second weekend in the city, after moving out to Utah from Connecticut.  I have a bajillion things on my bucket list, and of course, impatient me wanted to start RIGHT AWAY.  While I really wanted to do the southern parks (Arch, Moab etc) I knew they would be swamped on this Labor Day holiday weekend.   So instead, we opted for some local sights.  Saturday we went to the famer's market and the Red Butte Gardens and decided to do a more local hike Sunday.  After doing some research, I decided on a hike in the High Uintas mountain, about 1.5 hours west of the city.

The High Uintas Wilderness Area is the largest wilderness area in Utah. It also contains the highest peaks in the Uinta Mountains, and in the state of Utah, Kings Peak.   The Uinta Mountains are one of the few mountain ranges in North America that run east to west instead of the traditional north to south. The mountains run just south of the Wyoming/Utah border for 100 miles from Flaming Gorge to Kamas.  Within these mountains are about 2000 lakes, many of which are full of trout. After reading about this mountain range, so close to the city, I decided Uintas it was.  How the hell do you say that? Yeah I wasn't sure either.   Until I asked a local on the way home at the smoke shop "you-in-tas"

The drive out to the Uintas was gorgeous.  We stopped along the way at a few pretty sights to take pictures -  above is me posing by the Jordanelle Reservoir (now on "the list" as well).  Jordanelle Reservoir is fed and drained primarily by the Provo River, and is impounded by the Jordanelle Dam, an Earthen dam (Wikipedia).  This is a great spot for "beaches", water sports, swimming, boating, camping and hiking.  Once we got to Kamas, Utah, we said goodbye to cell phone service and took the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway into the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.  

We had over 20 miles on this beautiful scenic road (closed in the winters) and once again the views were stunning.  There were many scenic overlooks and areas, so we stopped to snap some pictures of Bald Mountain (below) and the beautiful Uinta mountain range. 

Our drive to the trail head also took us by Provo River and this adorable waterfall. 

After a beautiful drive with many pitstops, we finally made it to Mirror Lake, one of the most popular (and driveable) lakes in the Uintas. 

 Mirror Lake has a surface elevation of 10,050 feet and has a max depth of 35 feet.  There are multiple campgrounds, a boat launch, hikes, and trail heads in this area.  While we stopped here for a few pictures and to admire the view, we decided to go to a less popular area and hike to the lakes only accessible by hiking the trails. 

Thatcher, Olive and I packed water, sandwiches, beer, water, and all the essentials we needed into our packs (even Olive carried her own supplies in her Ruffwear saddlebag/harness) and headed out on the trails.


The sights were absolutely breath taking.  The trails were well marked and took us by some of the many lakes in the Uinta mountain range.  I brought my GoPro which did a fantastic job of capturing the beauty in these mountains. 

Our favorite spot was right here at Bonnie Lake.  This lake.. that backdrop.... This picture doesn't even look real.  We stopped to catch our breath, enjoy the view, and watch some people fly fish. 

When it was finally lunch time, we stopped to enjoy our sandwiches and a beer (in our LBMO wedding coozies!) by this quaint little brook. Olive also had a chance to take off her pack and enjoy a snack with us. 

We passed along several other little lakes along the way and each one just proved to be prettier than the last.   By the end of the day we had hiked 6 miles and saw a side of Utah we didn't even know existed.  I knew southern Utah had it's dessert and famous parks, and I knew northern Utah had its mountain and its skiing, but to see these sights, and these lakes on top of mountain was breath taking.  

We got back home to Salt Lake City, a little more in love with Utah.  We did some reflecting and researching on this mountain range.  We kept hearing that this mountain range had the highest peak in Utah.  Thanks to instagram (#kingspeak if you are intrigued) we saw amazing photos and stories of this hike. 

Kings peak is on many people's bucket list. This 28 mile round trip hike is usually done in 2 days, but I have read about people doing it between 1-5 days.  Kings Peak (13,528 feet) stands taller than any other summit in Utah.

Kings Peak's topographic prominence is 6,348 feet and ranks 19th in the contiguous 48 states. It is one of 57 so-called Ultra prominence peaks, those with more than 5,000 feet of prominence. Prominence, as defined by Wikipedia, is "the height of a mountain or hill's summit by the vertical distance between it and the lowest contour line encircling it and no higher summit. It is a measure of the independence of a summit."

We did NOT hike King's peak this trip but after seeing all of the amazing pictures, this will have to be added to the bucket list.  So who wants to come on a 29 mile hike with me?

I loved the High Uinta's and I will definitely be back to hike these woods again.  Maybe all the way to the top.  



  1. So funny that I started reading your blog before your move, and now you moved to Utah where I live and are writting about all the great places I visit frequently! I love the Uintas. Bald Mountain is a great 1/2 day hike too. Looks like you had a great time!

  2. Andrea thanks off reading ! It's gorgeous here ! I can't wait to pick your brain on all the best places to go, I still feel a little out of sorts with out my ocean but really excited for all the new adventures here !

  3. Great photos Katie. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous.

    You can definitely do that 29 miles in a single day.

    1. Thanks Angelo! 29 miles in a day... you really think so? remember we aren't all superhuman like you ;) Guess you will have to bring Vanessa and come visit so we can attempt it!


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