Uinta Highline Trail Day 1

Tom’s Experience thru hiking the Uinta Highline Trail: 

Today was the first day of our three day adventure; find links for the other days at the bottom of the post below the map. The Uinta Highline Trail is one of the longest hikes in Utah. Due to logistics, we decided to hike 68 miles of it in the summer of 2014. This has been a trail that my dad has been wanting to do for a long time and I thought it would be fun, so I asked if I could tag along. My dad, although he is almost twice my age, totally kicked my butt on this trail and was consistently the stronger hiker (he also carried the heavier backpack).

Uinta Highline Trail LakeThe trail rarely drops below 10,000 feet and is almost always above the tree line. It also passes right under Kings Peak, the highest mountain in Utah, and past numerous gorgeous mountain lakes.

Uinta Highline Trail Lake 3On Friday night, we parked a car at the east end of the Highline Trail near Mirror Lake and my dad had a friend who graciously offered to drive us to the Whiterocks trailhead which was about a 4 hour drive one way. It had been raining most of the week before we arrived but when we reached the Whiterocks trailhead the ground was damp but the weather was great. We arrived at about 10:30 at night and set up camp quickly before going to bed.

Uinta Highline TrailWe started hiking at about 7:00 Saturday morning. The trail headed into the forest and followed a small river, then went past a few lakes. Since we were just starting out, we decided to try to keep a fairly quick pace and only stop occasionally to take a photo or remove warm clothes. We made it to the top of Fox Queant Pass which is 11,360 feet above sea level. It was a little difficult for us to find the Highline Trail after going through Crescent and Fox lakes but with a little help from the map we were able to locate it.

Uinta Highline Trail River CrossingThis was one of the few times today we saw people and they were all camped around Fox Lake. We then had a very long stretch to Anderson Pass. We stopped for lunch and a deer came about 20 feet away from us as we were eating and we saw a moose standing in a stream on our way to Anderson Pass. The weather was pretty decent this day and only rained on us for a few minutes at a time.

Uinta Highline Trail Lake 2The stretch from Fox Queant Pass to Anderson Pass was mainly in the trees through the forest, which I found difficult because it is harder to visualize your progress and see how far you need to go or have gone. When we got to the base of Anderson Pass we decided to make camp, since there was plenty of water and the weather was starting to look pretty bad. Right after we got finished putting the tent up, there was an incredible thunder and hail storm that hit just to the south of us. Fortunately, we were never really rained on, but we were able to watch the lightning flash across the sky and then watch as the mountains were slowly painted white from the hail. I was glad we set up camp and were not caught on top of Anderson, had that storm come our way. We saw a few people at this point on the hike, but most were hiking Kings Peak and were headed back over Gunsight Pass that night. I think we went about 22 miles this day and we were hiking for about 10 hours, if you include our breaks and lunch.

An additional version of my adventure in the High Uintas Wilderness appeared in the second issue of Sidewalk – a hiking and backpacking magazine.

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 Uintas.

GPS Coordinates: 

Whiterocks Trailhead = 40.724051,-110.052771

Highline Trailhead = 40.722854,-110.863853

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