Skyline Trail is a panoramic tour of Utah's towering Tushar Mountains. This trail is perfect for mountain biking, day hikes, backpacking, and horseback riding, and it even stages the course for a yearly ultra marathon. Up here in the remote Tushars, crowds are rare, campsites are numerous, and views are spectacular. Skyline was designated as a National Recreation Trail in 1979, but it still doesn't see much traffic. It traverses the range north-south for a one-way distance of approximately 23 miles. The elevation crests at 11,100 feet and the route skirts multiple 12,000-foot peaks.
The full Skyline can be done as a multi-day trek, but it also divides nicely into three nearly equidistant sections that make for good day hikes. The southern end of the trail is at Big Flat on FR 514. The route hugs the eastern edge of this high plateau, granting huge views of the Sevier River Valley through gaps in aspen forest. The next road crossing is in 9 miles at Big Johns Flat, along FR 123/Pauite Trail 01.
From Big Johns Flat, it continues 7 miles north to Mud Lake at a spur road of FR 123. The route ducks into dense spruce-fir then out into open meadows on rolling terrain, alternating dark and light, up and down.
Past Mud Lake the final section is about 8 miles. In this section, it tops a ridge with vantage of Delano Peak and the surrounding summits before descending toward Blue Lake. From this idyllic glacial valley at the foot of rugged talus slopes it punches upward again, climbing back to 11,000 feet at Bullion Pasture Trailhead along FR 123.
There is signage at trailheads and junctions, but not at all of them. And don't expect the signs to be super helpful or the mileage 100% accurate, because many of these routes are seldom used. It can occasionally be hard to tell the hiking path from crisscrossing game trails, so pay attention to where you are headed. Snow can linger well into July, which makes trails harder to follow. Some route finding skill, a little intuition, and a sense of adventure are necessary to navigate this terrain.
The dramatic trail makes an unforgettable backpacking trip or bike ride. Come in the spring for snowy glades, summer for vibrant wildflowers, and fall for golden aspens. Mule deer are numerous, and herds of mountain goats can be spotted at the higher elevations.
If you have extra days to explore the Tushars, try hiking at Eagle Point Ski Resort, fishing at Puffer Lake, or summitting Delano Peak. Camping is free at Big Flat and elsewhere in the national forest, or you can camp with bathrooms and hookups at one of the campgrounds along UT-153.