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The Best Hikes in Uinta National Forest

55 Triplog Reviews in the Uinta National Forest
Most recent of 23 deeper Triplog Reviews
15.2 mi • 5,231 ft aeg
Wow! This is an awesome hike! A little of everything--beautiful fall colors; multiple waterfalls; challenging AEG; alpine lakes; glacier; some pucker factor along a snowy traverse; knife-ridge; and, of course, a summit with expansive views (albeit, on this day, limited by low cloud cover).

After scouting out the first 1.5 miles of the trail following the conclusion of my conference at Aspen Grove the prior afternoon, I was ready for a pre-dawn ascent up the trail.

I had booked an extra night at Aspen Grove for this purpose, and after all of the conference goers left, I literally had the place to myself (not even any staff around--a phone number was posted on the door of the lodge to call if I needed assistance). Not gonna lie, it was a little eerie. I was wondering when Jack Nicholson would be rounding the corner with axe in hand. :scared:

Thankfully, no boogie men appeared, and I awoke at 5 am, got a little nutrition in, packed up my room and headed out into the darkness.

The lodge is about 0.25 mi. from the trailhead, so I just walked up the road and off onto the trail.

The first couple of miles were in the dark. About a mile in, I approached the first waterfall. Couldn't see much, but certainly heard it. Another half mile, another waterfall.

By that point, I had gained a good 800 feet and could look down the valley and see some lights from Aspen Grove and the surrounding area. Up above, I could make out some headlamps of folks who camped overnight and were getting ready for a summit attempt.

Another mile or so on the trail and the horizon began to lighten a bit. The forecast was for overcast skies and possible rain, so I didn't have high expectations for a spectacular sunrise. It was brief indeed, but provided a couple of minutes of decent color before the sun was enveloped in the cloud cover.

The cloud ceiling was still above 12K at that point, providing some good visibility of Deer Creek Reservoir and the town of Heber off to the Northeast.

About 3 miles or so in, I hit my first snow on the trail around 9,800 feet. I pulled out my Yax Trax and was happy to have the extra traction, as the sun the day before had resulted in some melt/freeze conditions. Up to that point, I had been hiking in shorts and a shirt, trying to keep cool. At this point, I layered up a bit and zipped on the pant legs.

Just shy of 5 miles, I rounded the corner on the Hidden Lakes area, covered in a layer of snow. Caught a blurry photo of a grouse(?) and briefly chatted with a guy who had overnighted in the area and was planning a summit attempt.

From Hidden Lakes, the trail curves to the NE, between an outcropping on the SE and Robert's Horn to the NE. With the snowy conditions, I lost track of the actual trail for a bit and was bushwhacking it through the snow up a a short incline, until I noticed the actual trail reappear and I cut over to rejoin it.

After going up a short rise, the Emerald Lake Shelter Hut came into view. Emerald Lake is directly south of the structure and was divided into a thawed section and a frozen section, which sits at the bottom of the glacier. I'm not sure it still qualifies as a "glacier," as I've seen several photos where the ice/snow is pretty sparse. On this day, though, there was a good amount of snow for end of September. In the past, it apparently has been popular to glissade down the glacier back to the Lake after summitting. It's not recommended now, as the chances of crashing into rocks is apparently pretty high.

From the shelter, you can also see make out the summit hut, less than a 1/2 mile as the crow flies, and about 1,400 feet up, surrounded by sheer cliffs. The trail takes nearly another two miles to get there.

Just beyond Emerald Lake was the sketchiest part of the trail, requiring a 3/4 mile traverse across a knee deep snow field, which in a few sections involve some fairly steep angles where a slip and fall would not turn out well ...

Thankfully for me, there had been a few hikers through the area already, leaving some postholes for me to strategically place my footing. I'm not sure how much of this section I was on the actual "trail," as it was a little difficult to discern, though the ultimate destination on the far side of the field was clear.

As the far end of the snow field, the trail climbed a steep ramp to where it intersected with the Timpooneke trail (an alternative approach to the summit) just below a "saddle" providing the first glimpses to the south and west into the the Provo Valley and Utah Lake from 11,000 feet up. Beautiful views! Thankfully, although the cloud level continued to lower, I was still able to see the city, lake, and a lot of the fall foliage on the lower reaches of the mountain.

The other thing that immediately grabbed my attention upon crossing the ridgeline was the WIND! It was pretty fierce. At this point I put on the windbreaker and gloves and buckled in for 3/4 mi.final climb.

The trail in this section is cool, skirting just along the edge of the knife-like ridgeline. As I ascended, the cloud level continued to lower, and soon the summit was shrouded in clouds. I was a little bummed about that, as I'm sure the views on both sides of the ridgeline are spectacular on a clear day. Oh well, a good reason to go back again.

About 1/2 mile from the summit, the trail climbs steeply up a break in the rock, along several tight switchbacks, before resuming its ascent just below the ridgeline.

At this point, I was hiking in the clouds with very limited visibility and didn't see the summit hut until it was 10-15 yards in front of me.

I was happy to reach the summit, but again slightly bummed about not being able to enjoy the views. Still, the summit adrenaline rush kicked in, and I was also glad to hunker in the hut and get a little reprieve from the wind.

After a few calories, and entry into the summit log and putting on my final layer (a thermal shirt) for the descent, I headed back into the clouds for the return trip.

The wind blew mercilessly over he summit ridgeline, creating a cool visual effect with the clouds "shooting" over the lip of the mountain.

When I finally crossed back over and below the ridgeline, the wind immediately ceased and the snow-covered trail was amazingly tranquil. A light snow began to fall as I traversed back across the snow field.

Once below 9,800 feet, and leaving the snow behind, I was in awe of the beautiful fall colors. Couldn't stop taking pictures.

By the time I returned to my starting point, I looked up and could see that the summit clouds had lifted and it was now clear on top. Oh well ....

Bottom line: This was easily a top 10 hike in my book. Highly recommend it to anyone in the area.

I'll be back on another--clear--day to enjoy the mountain again with full views!
3.02 mi • 943 ft aeg
My conference at Aspen Grove ended at 3:30 pm, and I decided to do a quick afternoon "test run" up the first mile and half of the Mt. Timpanogos trail in preparation for my hike to the top on the following day. I had spent most of the conference that day staring out the windows at the mountains and chomping at the bit to get out on the trails.

As I had never done the trail before and would be starting out before dawn with about 90 minutes of trail time in the dark, I wanted to make sure I knew where I was going and wouldn't have any issues navigating in the dark. Plus, today was a beautiful day, with clear blue skies, and the following day was forecast to be cloudy with a chance of rain/snow. So, I wanted to take in the views, particularly on this first section of the trail which I wouldn't see much of at o-dark-thirty the following morning.

Wow. Talk about a teaser! About one mile from the trailhead, I hit the first waterfall. Gorgeous! another half mile up was the next set of falls. Equally gorgeous. I climbed a bit past that to an opening on the beautiful fall colors on the drainage below. I wanted to go further, but needed to head back down to Provo for a dinner appointment.

Definitely pumped for doing the full 15 mile trail the following morning ....
7.6 mi • 2,865 ft aeg
Headed up to Utah to meet my new grandson, Jax! Decided to take him out on his first hike. Started up Rock Canyon, but right out of the gate, Jax decided it was time to eat. So, Mom and Grandma took care of business at the trailhead, while my son-in-law and I headed up to the Peak, with views of Utah Lake and the Provo valley. Jax, Grandma, and Mom took a stroll up the Canyon a bit, after "breakfast." A beautiful day and a beautiful hike!
4.7 mi • 1,003 ft aeg
I was up at Aspen Grove, above Sundance, attending a conference, and one of the activities was a pre-dawn hike out to Stewart Falls. We hiked out to the falls by headlamp and then watched the sun rise. It was a beautiful morning and temperatures were perfect. I understand they had snow up there last week, but there was no sign of it at that elevation. The fall colors were on full display. A beautiful area. My only regret was that I didn't have an extra day to hike Mt. Timpanogas. Another time ....
12 mi • 3,000 ft aeg
The Summer of Hiking --- all over the place! A last minute decision to spend the night below the summit of Mount Timpanogos was made as I was driving in to UT and saw it looming in the distance, remembered the fun I had up there in my younger days, and wanted something to break the monotony of an 8 hour trip across NV. I literally unpacked the car, got the wife and kids situated with their cousins, backed a backpack, and was off. A late start at 4:30pm but I knew the trail and wasn't concerned. The Aspen Grove trail to the summit is a well graded sequence of switchbacks up a very steep piece of ravine. The waterfalls and wildflowers were turned up to maximum. An earlier thunderstorm had left the air warm and humid. The magic increased when I arrived at the sequence of meadows below the glacial fed Emerald Lake to find an entire herd of wild goats munching on the verge surrounding the trail. Numerous backpackers had set up their tents to face this idyllic scene. I made a bivy near the edge of a ledge overlooking a lower sequence of lakes, the cirque that forms the base of the summit, and the Uinta range in the distance. Distant thunderstorms entertained me during a quick dinner, interrupted only by a momma and her kid who chose to walk right through my little camp. With rain seeming imminent, I made hasty clean-up, got the pack covered, jumped in to my bivy and battened down the hatches. Brief but intense bouts of rain and wind interrupted my sleep a couple of times during the night -- the pleasure of a bivy is found in the hike up the mountain, the curse, when you have to hole yourself up against rainy weather, making sure the top flap always extends over the bottom flap lest your whole bivy fill with water! This inconvenience notwithstanding, the cool air and raging wind were a welcome change from the heat that accompanied us in our recent trip to Yosemite. Over 100 degrees there! Here, it probably got down to the 50s and I snuggled up and fell asleep to the sounds of rain hitting the bivy directly above my ear, and the wind ripping at the fabric. And for all the bivy naysayers out there, I awoke dry and happy with the sunrise and headed back down the mountain in order to get to the airport in time to retrieve my mother-in-law :D
26.5 mi • 5,547 ft aeg
Taking this trip is like tackling a long hike in the Grand Canyon for me: lots of pre-planning, with a bit of risk, and great rewards at trails end.
Day 1: Took 5 teenagers out for our annual backpacking trip in the Uintas. After a late start, a brief afternoon shower caught us on the way up to the ridgeline of Bald Mountain. But that was just the prelude. Once we were approaching 11,000 feet and fully out in the open on the ridge, the rain and wind came up strong, for over an hour. Luckily it was at our backs. We pressed forward through the clouds/fog, and had to pull out the GPS to be sure of the trail a few times with the low visibility. The kids impressed me because none wanted to give up, and even had a few laughs when we got hailed on. It got intense for a while though, and I was worried. Once we got down the other side ( about mile 8 ) we started to look for a campsite. I chose a spot where we had a lot of red pine needles handy, since everything was wet. Dinner was around 9pm, but it cheered everybody up.
Day 2: For the first time, I actually succeeded in drying clothing next to a fire. It took 3 hours, but the kids were sleeping in, so it worked out. Finished our backpack up the Boulder Mountain trail to the Smiths Fork trail, and got a campsite in the tall trees below Red Castle. The trail in the drainage was full of horse tracks and flowing with muddy water. There were some marshes to cross, so we ended up with wet shoes again. At 4:30 we were day-hiking up to Red Castle Lake, and hooked into a few fish for dinner that night.
Day 3: Our best fishing day. We caught fish in Red Castle Lake and Upper Red Castle Lake, even though it was around midday. The Tiger Trout were plentiful and large. This was my first trip seeing them. At 3pm we hurried down to camp in front of another hail storm. It rained for 3 hours so we took naps before dinner. Then that night it rained and thundered again. One tent had a leak in the floor, so we spent Friday morning drying a sleeping bag with good success.
Day 4: Got back on the trail and bushwhacked over to East Red Castle Lake. It was scenic but rain wasn't far off. We got a short burst but stuck it out for the biggest trout we have ever caught. The longest was 17 inches, which is a monster for a mountain lake. Cleaned up the fish and hit the trail just as the rain began. Shortly we felt the temperature drop and we got some hail and then some snow. We moved on down the East Red Castle Trail and back to our first campsite, where we had a wonderful fish dinner. Tiger trout have an orange salmon-colored meat, which is almost as good as a native cutthroat or brook trout. When they are smothered in butter in a foil dinner, it is 5 star dining!
Day 5: Hiked out with good weather and great memories.
13.5 mi • 3,970 ft aeg
I was in Utah for a wedding yesterday so I thought I would try my luck with Timpanogos today. I knew it was very early in the year and it still had lots of snow on the peak and had been falling the last couple weeks. It was also supposed to storm today but I am not really smart enough for those things to stop me. I started early and it was below 30. The sun was coming up and going up hill I started peeling layers off a mile into the hike. I had heard this was a great hike and even though I went to school there I never did it in college. I could not believe how scenic it was. Absolutely beautiful. The first 2.5 miles the trail was very wet but not a problem. Once I got to 3 miles I started walking on a lot of snow. The next half mile took me almost 30 minutes and it started getting steep and slick. I kept on losing and refinding the trail but it go to hard to follow. Also being by myself, I did not want to get to crazy so I turned back. As soon as I did the storm rolled in and it started snowing. Going down was pretty fast. Once I got back to the trail head I dumped some extra clothes and headed down the Cascade Springs trail. Beautiful waterfall. I then went an extra 1.5 miles over to Sundance then returned. Great day. I love our Arizona trails but I wish I could go on more of these Rocky Mountain hikes, amazing scenery.
8.91 mi • 3,689 ft aeg
My original plan was to hike up Andrew's Ridge and then traverse the ridge between the south and north peaks, but hiking Delano Peak the day before gave me a glimpse into my own mortality, so I settled for something a little more subdued... that, and I consistently oversleep. I drove to the trailhead after gassing up in Nephi and stopping at the various overlooks along the Nebo Byway. Lots of cow pies during the first couple miles of this trail, and of course steep sections. There was one stretch of trail on the west side of North Peak that was freaking me out. It's a foot wide with a long tumble on one side. I can't handle this and I'm about to head up the ridge to Nebo? :sweat:

I hit Wolf Pass and took a short breather before crawling up the steep slope leading to the beginning of the ridge. This is the point where you're facing the route head-on and it's exciting. I made my way across the bits of talus trail and felt surprisingly great. The exposure on the narrow but gentle trail earlier had me feeling more on edge (punny) than this part. :-k I could see two people coming down from the peak and it looked insane. I wasn't sure if I'd top out on this one, but I pressed on anyways. There were 5 people on the ridge, including myself. I spoke with the first guy who said he turned around after losing his nerve near the top. The others assured me it was nothing. Then that was it. I was alone and my somewhat false sense of security was gone. Well, let's see how bad it gets...

There were a couple spots where I moved really slowly. I'd say they were class 2.5/3, just really steep with some consequences at the bottom should you fall. Trekking poles, tunnel vision, and patience were key, and in that order. Once below the peak on the east side, it's a light scramble to the summit. And by light scramble, I mean an easy scramble made more difficult by the feeling of being on the edge. The views from the top of Nebo are astounding. Big mountain ranges and colorful valleys in all directions, and lakes to the north. There was a talus trail heading south which made the traverse between the three peaks seem more attainable, but that's surely for another time. No summit register, benchmarks, or anything else that I could find, just 360 degrees of beautiful scenery.
7 mi • 2,040 ft aeg
Little Cottonwood Canyon: You start at the White Pine Trailhead then continue one easy mile up to the junction to Red Pine Lake right and White Pine Lake Left. There are no fires permitted in Red Pine Lake side for it is in the Lone Peak Wilderness. Lots of crowds in the summer, tons of wildlife, animals, moose, etc... I did this hike to Red Pine Lake > Alpine Ridge > Maybird Gulch in October. If you plan on doing this route back through Maybird Gulch, be prepared and make sure you have extra time for you have to cross through basically one mile of boulders. Totally Epic Hike.
14 mi • 5,430 ft aeg
Hiked the lasso loop from Aspen Grove Trailhead up to the peak and then down the glacier. The 4 kids I took with me (ages 11 to 15) did great, and liked skiing down the snow the best. We took a lot of breaks going up, and that took 7 hours. Going down we hurried and finished in 4 more hours. This time instead of mountain goats we saw 3 bighorn sheep right near the lake. The weather was on the hot side with very little wind. Part of the trail is still under snow along the north slope.
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