Big Elk Lake Trail
Overview: You can pack extra gear into here. The hike is just a little over a mile one way, so bring the lawn chairs and float tube. There is a steep incline just before the lake, but otherwise it’s an easy hike.
Start: Norway Flats
Distance: 2.2 miles out and back
Destination elevation: 10,020 feet
Approximate hiking time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy — one steep section
Nearest town: Kamas, Utah
Drainage: Provo River
Maps: USGS Erickson Basin; USDA Forest Service High Uintas Wilderness; Trails Illustrated High Uinta Wilderness
Trail contacts: Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Heber-Kamas Ranger District
Finding the trailhead: The hardest part about this trek is finding the right road. From Kamas, go 15 miles west on Highway 150 to Forest Road 035 and turn left. This road climbs onto Norway Flats. Norway Flats Road starts innocently enough as it turns off of Highway 150, but it forks several times where there are no markers and the maps don’t show. Stay with the road that shows the most wear until you are about 6 miles from Highway 150; turn right (east). If you stay on the road most traveled (to the left), you will end up at a beaver pond just below Hourglass Lake. This is the wrong starting place. Go back to the road that turned east and follow it down to the trailhead. You may need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to cover the last mile to the trailhead.
From the end of Norway Flats Road, Little Elk Lake is about 0.3 mile to the west of the trail. Continue another 0.8 mile to a trail junction and Big Elk Lake.
At Big Elk Lake, fishing is generally good for stocked brook and cutthroat trout. A raft or canoe would be nice to escape the crowds and the bugs, but you can do just fine from shore. Fish with a small fly (#16) during the morning and evening, and you should have little trouble catching enough for a hearty meal.
Campsites are available on the south and east sides of this deep reservoir.There are no springs around, so plan on purifying your drinking water. Big Elk receives heavy pressure, especially on weekends. If you visit during the week, there might not be anybody else there. Pack out your litter, and help us keep Big Elk a clean and fun place to explore.