One of the highest peaks in the Western Uintas, Bald Mountain has a unique combination of great views, a rugged summit at nearly 12,000 feet, and relatively easy access. Thanks to a high trailhead on the Mirror Lake Highway, you can reach the top of Bald Mountain with just 1,179 feet of vertical gain in a 1.5-mile hike. As the name might suggest, Bald Mountain rises well above tree line; the upper slopes are rugged, rocky terrain where alpine wildflowers abound in the short summer season. The area is also home to a herd of mountain goats often spotted on the plateau along the upper reaches of the trail. If you happen to miss them on this hike, the goats may be found near the small lakes reached by the Notch Mountain Trail (just go left and downhill instead of right from the trailhead).
From Bald Mountain Pass the trail starts up the rocky slopes through a stand of spruce trees. A series of switchbacks takes you up a short, steep section and begins to level off as you approach the tree line. About a half mile up the trail the route gains a rocky plateau and curves back to the east. The last scrubby subalpine firs give way to treeless terrain at about 11,400 feet. The high-alpine environment here is home to a great variety of wildflowers in the summer months. However, snow can persist here well into July, and early season hikes will require an ice axe.
The route gets steeper again as you approach a false summit. Topping this rise, the actual summit appears just 100 yards further ahead. On the last section you’ll climb a series of steps built of massive, quartzite blocks. The trail is a bit rough here, but there is no scrambling or exposure. From the broad, flat summit, enjoy the expansive views in all directions. To the northwest, Reids Peak is one of the nearest of the other mountains around. Experienced hikers can reach its summit by a scrambling route from Bald Mountain or by routes from Pass Lake or the Notch Lake Trail. Other prominent points on the skyline include Mount Agassiz (12,428 feet), the rounded peak to the east, and Hayden Peak (12,479 feet), the jagged summit to the northeast.
Expect this hike to take two to three hours round trip. Winter ascents are not generally done because the Mirror Lake Highway is closed in the winter months.