Enjoy the peaceful Ryder Lake in the Uintas

Tom’s experience at Ryder Lake:

Ryder Lake is a popular overnight camping spot in the Uintas. You begin the trail at Christmas Meadows which is the same trailhead as the more popular Amethyst Lake.
Ryder Lake Christmas Meadow

The trail is 17 miles round trip. You follow the same trail as to Amethyst but when you come to the fork instead of turning left to Amethyst you stay on the trail and go straight.

Ryder Lake Fork

The trail is mostly level at the beginning but there are a few river crossings and a lot of mud. I was able to find rocks and logs to cross over rivers so my feet stayed pretty dry.

Trail to Ryder Lake

However, I did get muddy. My dog got very muddy. After the Amethyst fork there is one more fork where you take the left fork.

Ryder Lake Trail


Hiking to Ryder Lake

Both forks have signs but both are difficult to see if you aren’t paying attention.

Ryder Lake Hike

After the second fork the trail begins to gain elevation and is quite steep for a short distance.

Ryder Lake Uinta

There is plenty of water along the trail so if you bring a way to filter it you can stop many times along the trail rather than carry all of your water.

Uinta Ryder Lake

Dogs are allowed on this trail.

Tom’s Rating:

Trail Info: The trail to Ryder Lake starts out at the Christmas Meadows trailhead off of the Mirror Lake Highway in the Uinta National Forest. The road from the highway to the trailhead is a graded dirt road and any car could make it so long as it isn’t too wet or snowy. The trail is well maintained and well signed all the way to Ryder Lake but is rocky and steep in a few spots. It is 17 miles round trip to the lake and back. The trail can get very muddy and there is a lot of access to water along the trail and at a few lakes if you bring a purifier.


Christmas Meadows Trailhead = 40.822245,-110.800906

Ryder Lake = 40.726377,-110.826007

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Uinta Highline Trail Day 3

Tom’s Experience thru hiking the Uinta Highline Trail: 

Today was the third day of our adventure; read about day 1 or day 2. Today we woke up a little cold and there was still hail on the ground from the previous day, but most of our stuff seemed dried out; other than our shoes, which were frozen.

Uinta Highline Trail Red Knob Pass MoonWe got another early start and really tried to go quickly today since we knew we would be making it to the car in the evening. Red Knob wasn’t very difficult to climb but going down was very steep. This was another pass I was very happy we hit from the east side heading west.

Uinta Highline Trail SunriseThe valley between Red Knob and Dead Horse pass is also very pretty, we even saw a herd of maybe 10 deer. There were plenty of streams and the ground was still covered in hail, even though the sun was starting to shine.

Uinta Highline Trail RiverWe made it to Dead Horse Pass–that is one tough pass. It is very steep, and half way up we saw the remains of the dead horse bolted into the rock. It over looks dead horse lake but you hike up some steep cliffs on loose rocks making tight switchbacks.

Uinta Highline Trail Dead Horse Pass2The trail was covered in hail and I was a little nervous with my pack on that I might slip and get hurt. Thankfully, we made it to the top and back down into the valley without any problems. From there, it was a very long trek to the final pass, Rocky Sea. It started raining and hailing on us, but again we just put on our rain gear and trudged along. We decided to leave the Highline Trail and take a detour towards Jack and Jill Lakes. It looked slightly longer on the map but we were hoping we wouldn’t loose as much elevation going this way. We never actually saw the turn off for the Highline Trail and just ended up on the trail towards Jack and Jill. I was glad we had decided to go that way, otherwise we would have been about a mile off course. We passed maybe a dozen little lakes and finally made it to Rocky Sea Pass. Rocky Sea was also very steep but not nearly as difficult as Dead Horse. I think Dead Horse was probably the most difficult part of the trail for me. From Rocky Sea Pass it was a fairly standard hike back to the car. It was all through the trees and rained pretty hard on us.

Uinta Highline Trail LakeWe passed numerous people as we neared the trailhead. When we finally reached the car we had been hiking that day for 12 hours. It was a tough three-day trip but we were excited to have finished it and ready to get home.

Tom’s Rating:

Trail Info: We started this adventure at the Whiterocks Trailhead and ended at the Uinta Highline Trailhead near Mirror Lake moving east to west. It took us about 4 hours to get from our parked car at the Uinta Highline Trailhead to the Whiterocks Trailhead so transportation from one side to the other can be rather difficult if you are doing the hike straight through. The trail passes numerous lakes and streams so water is pretty easy to get to as long as you have a way to purify it. The trail rarely drops below 10,000 feet so the altitude may be an issue for some. I think our adventure was about 68 miles from trailhead to trailhead. No permits are needed for hiking or camping in the back country but we did need to purchase a parking pass for the car we left parked at the Highline Trailhead. Dogs are allowed in the High Uinta Wilderness.

GPS Coordinates: 

Whiterocks Trailhead = 40.724051,-110.052771

Highline Trailhead = 40.722854,-110.863853

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Please comment below to share your experience hiking the Uinta Highline Trail. Don’t forget to register to receive the Travel Tom’s Newsletter by submitting your email in the bar above.