Uinta Mountains Backpacking

Blue-ribbon backpacking is abundant throughout the High Uintas. The terrain is characterized by large stands of pines that lead into alpine basins and cirques. Small lakes generously dot the backcountry, and fishing in the High Uintas is lightning fast at times for those willing to venture into the backcountry. Brook trout, cutthroats, rainbows, grayling, and even a few golden trout inhabit the Uinta lakes and streams. There are more than 500 lakes in this alpine mountain range that are managed for fishing.

But you don’t need to fish to enjoy true wilderness experiences in rugged places with names such as Spread Eagle Peak, Highline Trail, Dead Horse Pass, Hells Kitchen, Lightning Lake, Yellowstone Creek, Buck Pasture, Amethyst Lake, and hundreds more.

The western half of the High Uintas is most popular, due simply to its proximity to Utah’s main population centers of Salt Lake City, Provo, and Ogden. A two-hour drive from any of these cities can put you at any one of a dozen Uinta trailheads. While backpacking opportunites in the Uintas are almost endless, here are a few excellent backpacking routes, some popular and some a little more out of the way.

1. Four Lakes Basin: 16 miles. A popular backpack to alpine lakes in the western Uinta Mountains. There are beautiful views of the western Uintas, including the upper Duchesne River and Rock Creek country.

2. Round, Sand, and Fish Lakes: 9 miles. A rigorous overnighter to three lakes in the upper Weber River drainage in the western Uinta Mountains. Good fly fishing for grayling and brook trout. 

3. West Fork Blacks Fork: 22 miles. An overnighter to the headwaters of the Blacks Fork River. There are lush alpine meadows, good fishing, and excellent opportunities to view wildlife. Golden eagles are a common sight.