Search This Blog

Monday, August 31, 2015

Loop Hike, Wall Lake and The Notch-- Uintas Hiking

When the city is projected to hit 98, we always try to find something fun to do somewhere cooler.  The Uintas are always guaranteed to be cool, and the entire forest is dog friendly.  Trying to find a hike that is cool, shaded, dog friendly and with water can be pretty tough with our watershed restrictions.  The Uintas are the perfect spot to hike when the city heats up and you want some water nearby.  

We decided to do a new hike, and after doing some research, found a few good options.  One option was a one mile out hike to Wall Lake to enjoy the sunshine and the lake with some chairs a cooler and a book.  This is also a popular beginner backpacking trek that we just have to go back and do.  The other option is to hike out to Wall Lake, continue up to "The Notch", and then do a little bushwhacking across to pick up a different trail at Clyde Lake, essentially making a loop around the lakes.  This hike is informally known as the 17 Lakes Hike.  We attempted to do this  informal 17 Lakes Hike "Loop" illustrated below.   The red is the cut through you will have to make. 

Trail Map 

But by accident, we did something more like this that followed Wall Lake.  So today, we are going to talk about several options and routes on this hike.  All equally beautiful! 

Loop Hike to Wall Lake, The Notch, 
and around Clyde Lake.  

Directions: ~90-minute drive to the trail head from Salt Lake City.  In Kamas, take U.S. Highway 150 (Mirror Lake Highway)  and drive 26 miles to Crystal Lake trail head parking lot.

Difficulty: Moderate

Total miles : ~6 miles if you make the loop across to Country Lakes Trail or if you just head out to The Notch and back. 6.5 miles if you do the Wall Lake perimeter hike.

Hiking time: 4 to 5 hours 

Accumulative gain: 903 ft. 

Trail head: Crystal Lake trail head parking lot.  There are several trail heads here.  Look for the Notch Mountain Trail, located by the bathrooms. 

Kids: Only if you hike out and back to Wall Lake. The Notch is 2.9 miles one way from the trail head, and to cut across to make a loop requires hiking off trail 

Restrooms: Yes 

Dogs allowed: Yes 

Entry Fee: Three-day pass for $6, you will not be required to go through a ranger station, but it is up to you to stop at the station on the entry or a self service station for your pass. OR your National Parks Pass will work here, just leave it on your dashboard!

Notch Mountain Trail Head

The trail was a little tricky to find.  There are several signs/trails starting at the Crystal Lake Parking area.  This trail is sort of in the "middle" of the others.  Look for the trail to the left of the bathroom. 

From Crystal Lake Trail head, take the Notch Mountain Trail to Wall Lake. The trail heads north and goes between the Lily Lakes, on the way to Wall Lake. At 1 mile you arrive at the largest lake, Wall Lake. 

Trail to Wall Lake 

Olive on the Trail to Wall Lake 

(The trail is dog friendly.  There is a mix of dogs on and off leash.  Dogs are technically required to be on leash.  We kept her on leash mostly, letting her off in certain areas to play). 

Bridge at Wall Lake 

This is the 1 mile mark where you will see the bridge, and Wall Lake behind it. 

Wall Lake

Olive in Wall Lake

  This is the largest lake you will see and a popular spot for swimming, cliff jumping, fishing, camping and picnicking.  This is a great spot to take the kids and it is only 1 mile each way.  This is a great spot for beginner backpackers, or day trippers who want to spend the day at the lake, swimming and enjoying the sunshine. 

Small Lake after Wall Lake

From Wall Lake the Notch Mountains are to the north. The depression in the mountains is called, The Notch. The trail passes by a few unnamed lakes and switchbacks a cliff face to Hope Lake at 2 miles. 

Mount Watson over Hope Lake 

When you come across some cairns heading left, ignore these and keep heading straight, you will go this way to make the loop after seeing The Notch.  At 2.9 miles you arrive at The Notch. After leaving the Notch, start heading the way you came, and keep an eye out for the cairns you passed.

From Wall Lake the Notch Mountains are to the north. The destination is the depression in the mountains called, The Notch. The trail passes by a few unnamed lakes and switchbacks a cliff face to Hope Lake at 2 miles. If you see some cairns heading to the left, ignore those. You will take that trail to make the loop around Wall Lake, but stay straight to reach The Notch.

Ridge by The Notch

The Notch

At around 2.8 miles you will make it to The Notch.  You will see a flat rock slab overlooking three beautiful lakes.  This is a great spot to enjoy lunch before completing the loop.  From here, you can continue on down the Notch Mountain Trail and turn around when you want,  you can take an immediate left at the Notch to make the loop to lakes Country Trail, or turn around now , head back to the cairns, and take a right to make the loop around Wall Lake perimeter.  

The Notch


Take a right at the cairns taking you down to Clyde Lake. Looking west from the shelf is Clyde Lake and Mount Watson. Looking below the shelf to the south is Twin Lakes. 

One of the lakes after The Notch

If you take the left at the Notch to make the Lakes Country Trail, at 3.9 miles you arrive on the north side of Clyde Lake and the trail continues west along its bank. Clyde Lake is a great place to take a break before you continue the hike. After Clyde Lake the trail turns south for Watson, Linear, Petite and Cliff lakes. At Cliff Lake look for rock climbers on the cliffs.  The trail arrives at the Lakes Country Trail junction. At the junction, go left to complete the loop.

Lakes Labeled by

Well, we ended up heading back to the cairns that I thought were the right trail, and in essence, cutting in too early before Clyde Lake and missed the Lakes Country Trail.  Instead, we just bushwhacked our way around Wall Lake.   If you also get a little off route trying to make it across, just follow the lake around back to the bridge.  This is exactly what we did. 

Views of Wall Lake 

Views of Wall Lake 

Our little detour was worth it because instead of hopping back on the trail, we were able to catch gorgeous views of Wall Lake from the other end.  

Views of Wall Lake 

We also came across some amazing campsite on the perimeter of Wall Lake. 

Camp by Wall Lake 

And then we ran into a group of people cliff jumping and fishing.  

Cliff Jumping at Wall Lake 

Views of Wall Lake 

Finally we came across some sort of a trail that bordered Wall Lake and followed it back to the Bridge, where the trail takes you back 1 mile to the trail head. 

Trail surrounding Wall Lake 

Bridge at Wall Lake 

From the bridge where you started your loop, just head back to the trail head where you started.  If you made it to Lakes Country Trail, that will lead you do a different trail head in the same parking lot.  

This was a gorgeous quiet trail with several gorgeous lakes.  The views of The Notch were incredible and the hike was an overall great experience.  You have a few options:  backpacking to Wall Lake for the night (1 mile each way),  hiking out to Wall Lake with kids for the day (1 mile each way),  hiking out to The Notch and back (~6 miles), making the left at The Notch, looping around to Lakes Country Trail (~ 6 miles), or going to the Notch, turning around, taking  right at the cairns to make your own trail around Wall Lake (~6.5 miles).  Whichever you chose, you are going to have an amazing hike in the Uintas.

Stay tuned for my Tips to the Uintas post later in the week! 


  1. My wife and I did this hike with our dogs a few years back. We started out heading to Cliff Lake and then looped up to The Notch and then back down to Wall Lake and finally the parking lot. We lost one of our dogs for about 5 to 10 minutes above Wall Lake. Scary!! Long Lake and Island Lake are also some nice destinations. Same parking lot as you started from just head west instead of north.

    1. What a great adaptation of this hike! Thank you for sharing! This area is so insanely beautiful and I love that it is dog friendly. Always scary to lose your dog (even for a minute!) Glad you found fido and enjoyed your hike.

      Thanks for reading!


Let's Chat!