Divide Lakes Trail
Overview: Here’s a campout to take the kids on. You’ll see plenty of small lakes along the way, and the trail has a good mix of uphill and level slopes.
Start: Crystal Lake trailhead
Distance: 5.0 miles out and back
Destination elevation: 10,460 feet
Approximate hiking time: 3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate — some steep sections
Nearest town: Kamas, Utah
Drainage: Provo River
Maps: USGS Mirror Lake; USDA Forest Service High Uintas Wilderness; Trails Illustrated High Uinta Wilderness; Maptech Terrain Navigator CD-ROM (High Uinta)
Trail contacts: Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Heber-Kamas Ranger District
Finding the trailhead: From Kamas, take the Mirror Lake Highway (Highway 150) 27 miles to Trial Lake Campground. Exit left (west) onto a paved road, and travel about a mile to a fork in the road. Then turn right (north) for another mile to the trailhead. This is a popular trailhead, with room for fifty-seven vehicles and nice toilet facilities. Water and other amenities can be found at Trial Lake Campground. This hike is a great overnighter for small groups—or a wonderful escape if you are camped at Trial Lake and want to get away from camp for a spell. You couldn’t ask for a better nature trail; it offers a wide variety of scenery, complete with fishing holes.
From Crystal Lake trailhead, go past the western Lily Lake 0.1 mile to a trail junction. The trail to the right goes to Wall Lake and the Notch. Stay left and walk past Cliff, Petit, Linear, and Watson Lakes, all west of the trail. At about 2.1 miles from the trail junction, you will pass Clyde Lake on the right and Mount Watson on the left. It’s another 0.3 mile to the Divide Lakes.
The best places to camp are at the west end of Divide Lake 2 and between Divide Lake 1 and Divide Lake 2. I would choose the latter site if the weather was guaranteed to be fair; otherwise I would seek the safety of the pines at Divide Lake 2. Although these lakes are less than 100 yards apart, Divide Lake 1 is on the Provo River Drainage, and Divide Lake 2 is on the Weber River Drainage. There is a large rock between the two lakes—when rain falls on the rock, half the water heads toward the Provo River and half toward the Weber.
Several springs are located on the west end of Divide Lake 2. They are conveniently close to camp, and ice cold. Small lakes abound, and there is plenty to do and see without wandering too far. Nearby Booker Lake offers fair fishing, but you’ll probably do better right at Divide Lake 1, which has a nice population of smallish brook trout. For best results, try the deeper southwest corner of the lake with a tiny fly.
If you’re after bigger fish, try Little Hidden Lake on the Weber Drainage. You’ll want a topographical map and a compass to find it. There is no trail, but stay close to the mountain to the east, and head north about half a mile. This lake has brookies ranging from half a pound to well over a pound. A #16 Renegade fly, cast in the northwest end of the lake, should put a few nicer trout in the creel. Be quiet here—the fish have learned to disappear when noisy visitors appear. As long as you’re quiet, they’ll keep biting. There is springwater to the northeast if you need to refill your canteen.
From Divide Lakes notice “The Notch” in the mountains to the northeast. This well-known pass is a thing of beauty, especially when you’re on it. From the top of Notch Pass is a spectacular view right down into Lovenia Lake. It’s worth the mile trip over; or you could go there on your way back to the trailhead. The Notch Pass Trail returns to Crystal Lake trailhead, too.