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Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains

04.20.18

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Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains

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  • Middle Basin and Hayden Peak (left, 12,479 ft.). - Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Middle Basin. - Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Morat Lake with Mount Agassiz. The route to Blue Lake climbs on the right side of the slope. - Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • A swampy, marshy terrain that is typical in the Uintas. - Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • One of the many wildflower meadows along the trail.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • The Uinta Mountains are dog heaven.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Lily pads are common in the many lakes of the Uintas.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Reids Meadow on the Lofty Lake Loop Hike.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • View of Cutthroat Lake along the Lofty Lake Loop Hike. - Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Lofty Lake. - Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Alpine aster blooming well into October. - Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • A hiker capturing a shot of the view from the top. - Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • View of the Western Uintas and Mirror Lake Highway from the summit. - Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Ostler Peak (12,724 ft) and Spread-Eagle Peak (12,546 ft) in the distance.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • The Indian paintbrush goes wild here.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Enjoying a great campsite.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Morat Lake in Naturalist Basin.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Blue Lake and Mount Aggassiz. - Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Naturalist Basin from the ridgeline above Blue Lake.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Fading evening light over Blue Lake. - Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • A young moose just across the Henrys Fork River.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Looking south across Dollar Lake toward West Gunsight Peak, Kings Peak, and Henrys Fork Peak.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Looking west across Henrys Fork basin on the way to Gunsight Pass.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Looking south from Gunsight Pass into Painter Basin.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Nearing Anderson Pass, looking east toward West Gunsight Peak. The entrance to The Chute is visible here.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • Viewpoint into Henrys Fork Basin from the ridge ascending to Henrys Fork Peak.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
  • South Kings Peak towers on the eastern wall over the Yellowstone Basin.- Where to Hike In Utah's Uinta Mountains
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Barren, rocky peaks and sparse pine forests rise above the intermountain plateau east of Salt Lake City, a crumbling region comprised of bare, red, billion-year-old rock speckled with thousands of lakes. The Uinta Mountains are indeed a remote and unusual range.

With an east to west orientation, the Uintas include the highest peaks of such an orientation in the Lower 48. At 13,534 feet, Kings Peak is the highest point in the range and the highest point in Utah. While the Uintas were extensively glaciated during the Ice Ages, no glaciers survive the arid climate of eastern Utah. The Uintas are distinguished as the most poleward range over 13,000 feet, and the highest in the contiguous U.S., without glaciers.

Remnants of the glacial liquefaction remain in the thousands of lakes that dot the valley floor. The Uintas have 400 miles of streams to explore, including the Blacks, Duchesne, Bear, Weber and Provo Rivers, and they have the most contiguous area above treeline of any mountain range in the U.S. The summer season extends from July to September, and there is much to be found in the meadows above treeline here and ample solitude for those who seek it. Most visitors gravitate to the lakes for their fishing and their serene beauty, while others will look to the rugged peaks. The most adventurous seek danger on the Uintas’ southeast flank in Dinosaur National Monument—where the peaks are their most remote, and the slot canyons most intimate.

Peaks

Kings Peak is the highest point in the state at over 13,000 feet, and it earns its crown: It is one of the most prominent peaks in the Lower 48. At 16 miles, the approach hike isn’t exactly forgiving, but Kings Peak is a tempting conquest for peak baggers, and the scenery isn’t too shabby along the way.

Out of Naturalist Basin, the most popular and the easiest route up Mount Agassiz takes you past Blue Lake to the rugged and barren moonscape above timberline and spectacular views of Middle Basin.

Be on the lookout for mountain goats on the route to Bald Mountain, and maybe feel like one, as you climb the 1,250-foot vertical gain over the route's 2-mile stretch.

Naturalist Basin

The popular Naturalist Basin hiking destination is so named for the Swiss-American naturalist Louis Agassiz and his cadre of Cornell and Harvard student-followers, for whom the peaks surrounding the basin are named. There is much to be found here—lakes, peaks, wildlife and loop hikes to all of them—so plan to camp and explore.

Crowded? Check out the areas around Henrys Fork and Smith Fork.

Lakes

A good hike for beginners, Ruth Lake is a short, easy jaunt with opportunities for fishing and wildflower viewing in the appropriate season. Interpretive signs along the trail are great for the kids, too, and there are spectacles to behold.

The Lofty Lake Loop Hike sweeps past several alpine lakes on its 4-mile traverse through diverse alpine terrain. Be aware: the entire trail is above 10,000 feet.

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