The Uinta Mountains are the mountain gem of Utah, and they are a unique and noteworthy range when compared against any mountain range in any state. The Uintas have the second largest amount of terrain above tree line of any mountain range in the lower 48 states, and they enjoy a wilderness designation that protects 453,900 acres of pristine lakes, tundra, and rocky peaks. The trail network in this range is extensive, ranging from the over 75-mile Highline Trail to leisurely boardwalks around Mirror Lake.
Hayden Pass Trailhead, also known as the Highline Trailhead. is one of the most accessible and highly used trailheads. From Hayden Pass one has an array of options as to where to backpack. For this adventure, Gladys Lake is the destination. Gladys Lake is a very remote lake that sits at around 11,000 feet roughly 13 miles from the trailhead. The lake sits in Rock Creek Basin, which is a remote and incredibly beautiful basin surrounded by peaks that are rugged and seldom climbed.
To reach Gladys Lake, simply set out on the Highline Trail from Hayden Pass. There are a few spur trails to several basins, but continue straight toward Rocky Sea Pass, which is the major mountain pass that you will have to hike up and over. Rocky Sea Pass is 8 miles from the trailhead and where hikers will enjoy unbelievable views of Rock Creek Basin, which is usually only seen by Highline Trail thru-hikers. Once below the pass, it is a mellow 5-mile hike to the lake. Make sure to follow signs for the Highline Trail and make the cutoff at Black Lake, which has a sign directing the hiker toward Gladys Lake. Once at Gladys, enjoy the stunning alpine scenery, the fly-fishing, and the peak bagging opportunities of Spread Eagle Peak and Ostler Peak.