Thursday, November 5, 2015

Island Lake, Uintas

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Island Lake is one of many gorgeous lakes in the Uintas - it can be hard to choose which lake to visit. This lake offers a quick backpacking trip, cliff jumping, swimming, fishing, & solitude in the summer months. If you are feeling adventurous, you could even hike up to one of the three surrounding peaks. Hiking to Island Lake is an easy, family friendly hike, that even the dogs can join in on.

From SLC head East on I-80 towards Park City. Take exit 146 for Hwy-40 south towards Heber. Take exit 4 towards Kamas. At the first light in Kamas, UT turn left, and at the next light turn Right, onto the Mirror Lake Hwy. Drive until you see the sign for Crystal Lake TH, and follow the signs for the parking area. There are restrooms at the TH. Keep in mind that the Mirror Lake Hwy charges a fee - 1-3 days is $6, 7 day pass is $12, or $45 for an annual pass. If you have an Annual National Parks Pass you get in free. Be sure to place your pass on your dashboard. Drive time from SLC is about 1:15-1:30.

Distance: 6 miles round trip
Elevation gain: 600 ft
Time: anywhere from 3-6 hours depending on how much time you want to spend at each lake.
Dog friendly? Yes
Kid friendly? Yes
 Start by hiking on the western end of the parking lot, with this sign.
 Cross the dry stream bed. This stream could actually be full from spring run off, but in September it was already dry.
 Work your way up to Watson Pass, where you'll have a view of, you guessed it, Mt. Watson!
 After 2 miles of hiking you'll reach Long Lake. I really liked this lake because of how open it felt, I loved the rock slabs (see next photo), the views of two peaks, and it just had a nice, calm vibe about it.
 The rock slabs at Long Lake.
 Just before you reach Island Lake, you'll hike along the edge of the mountain.
 After 3 miles of hiking, you'll reach Island Lake! It was a bit chilly up there, but the dogs had no problem swimming. Hiking out we got caught in about 20 minutes of rain. That night, this area got its first snow fall for winter. 
Another view of Island Lake. If you decide to backpack here, there are several established camp areas around the lake. Pick one that already has a fire ring set up. The Forest Service does not allow people building new fire rings.
 Two views of the route to Island Lake.



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