Friday, December 21, 2018

Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas

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Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas
 Cross country skiing in the Uintas is one of my favorite winter activities! I've been cross country (XC) skiing since 2008 when I lived in Montana. My favorite place to ski was Lone Mountain Ranch, but when we moved to Utah, no resort compared to that. So, I had to find new places to ski, and of course, I wanted to bring Charlie along. Yes, Utah has some small xc ski resorts like White Pine Touring, but you can't bring dogs to those places. Round Valley is a nice dog-friendly option but gets boring after awhile. The past few years I've been dying to get out and xc ski in the Uintas but didn't have a good car to get there in winter. I was afraid my little Sonata would get stuck, and I didn't want to deal with it.


So this year I finally got an old, used Subaru Forester, and I was going to make it happen to ski out there. In two weeks I was able to xc ski three new trails woot woot! I have been so excited to explore new terrain on my skis with Charlie, and he's been excited to smell & poop new places! There are plenty more places in the Uintas to xc ski, and as I ski new trail I will continue to add to this list!

Keep in mind that there is a $6 fee to access and park off the mirror lake highway. You can purchase a pass at the Kamas Ranger Station, or at any of the self-serve pay stations along the road. I highly recommended getting the annual mirror lake highway pass for only $40, especially if you like to hike/camp/backpack here in Summer anyway. All xc ski trails are marked by blue diamonds on trees.


There are several TH's to begin skiing. Most are located off the Mirror Lake Highway.

Yellow Pine TH 
6.2 miles from Kamas, UT

Shingle Creek Campground
9.5 miles from Kamas, UT

North Fork TH
12 miles from Kamas, UT

Winter Gate - Mirror Lake Highway
15 miles from Kamas, UT

Other Areas

Smith & Moorehouse

Beaver Ski Trail
Distance: 6 miles one way
Elevation gain: 200 ft
Dogs: allowed on odd-numbered days only (off leash) Dec. 15 - March 31
Fees: $6 fee (3 day pass) to access the Mirror Lake Highway
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, Beaver XC  Ski Trail
Dogs are only allowed to ski on ODD days on the Beaver Ski Trail. They aren't even allowed on EVEN numbered days, so plan accordingly. People do get mad if you're there with a dog on even days. My friend and I just happened to ski for the first time in the Uintas about 2 weeks before the Dec. 15th date on an even day, and an older couple said something sarcastic to us about our dogs....and it wasn't even after this date!  We didn't even know this was a rule then, but it shouldn't have mattered to them since it was before December 15th. Anyway...
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, Beaver XC  Ski Trail
Both of us plus the dogs had a great time skiing!
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, Beaver XC  Ski Trail
The main Beaver Ski Trail is groomed but if you decide to ski a side trail, it will not be groomed. We wanted to find some fresh powder!
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, Beaver XC  Ski Trail
The bridge that leads over to the North Fork Provo parking area.
North Fork Provo Loop
Distance: 4 miles (loop)
Elevation gain: 236 ft
Dogs: allowed off leash, every day

Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, North Fork Provo XC Ski Trail
Start by parking at the North Fork TH. You will then have to cross the road to begin skiing.
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, North Fork Provo XC Ski Trail
Simply follow the blue diamonds to know which way to go. It makes one giant, scenic loop.
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, North Fork Provo XC Ski Trail
Charlie loves sprinting next to me as a I ski, especially down hill!
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, North Fork Provo XC Ski Trail
You'll see one major trail split - go left, following the blue diamond. In Summer, you would go right for the main hiking trail.
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, North Fork Provo XC Ski Trail
We loved this loop - we skied it in a counter clockwise direction, and I like it this way because the downhill was really mellow and more open. 
Smith & Moorehouse Reservoir
Distance: 2 miles to the reservoir
Elevation gain: 250 ft
Dogs: allowed off leash, every day
Fees: None

The biggest con to xc skiing here are snowmobiles. It's a very popular spot for them to ride up to ice fish, hunt, and backcountry ski. I came here on a Sunday morning and about 10 snowmobiles passed me - some slowed down, most didn't. I would recommend skiing here during the week to avoid them and have a peaceful ski and to not worry about the dogs getting run over. 
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, Smith & Moorehouse XC Ski Trail
Park where the winter road begins - it's huge and can fit probably 50 cars. Start by skiing past this sign, along the road. Sometimes the road right at the beginning is pretty packed and bare from snowmobiles so you might've to ski just to the right of the sign on the shoulder.
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, Smith & Moorehouse XC Ski Trail
Pass the wilderness sign at 1.6 miles.
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, Smith & Moorehouse XC Ski Trail
At 2 miles arrive at the reservoir! So fun to see it frozen over in Winter! 
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, Smith & Moorehouse XC Ski Trail
I was amazed at how warm it was up here. There was a nice breeze, and I wished I brought my backpacking chair and spiked hot chocolate in my hydroflask to take a break and soak in the warmth! 
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, Smith & Moorehouse XC Ski Trail
Panorama of the reservoir. You can keep skiing past the lake as far as you want. I went about 1 more mile, then ran out of time. If you skied from the parking lot to the South end of the lake it's 4 miles one way.
Scenic Byway Trail
Distance: 3.5 miles from Yellow Pine TH to Shingle Creek TH
Elevation gain: 453 ft
Dogs: allowed on odd-numbered days only (off leash) Dec. 15 - March 31
Fees: $6 fee (3 day pass) to access the Mirror Lake Highway
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas
 Park at the Yellow Pine TH, then walk across the road to the South.
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas
 Cross the bridge and you'll see a trail sign. 
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas
 This trail is very beginner friendly - very flat and great views.
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas
 Skiing through Aspen trees.
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas
At 3.5 miles you'll reach the intersection of Shingle Creek TH. Don't forget to stop and take in your awesome views!



Wildlife
Have a leash handy in case you come near wildlife.
Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, Moose in the Uintas
A cute moose family!Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas, Moose in the Uintas
Daddy Moose







Cross Country Skiing at Sundance Nordic Center




Ready for Summer? 
The BEST day hikes in the Uintas, hiking in the Uintas
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Cross Country Skiing in the Uintas

3 comments:

John and Pam (ohtheplacestheygo.wordpress.com) said...

What a beautiful time! Charlie looks so happy playing in the snow.

Nate said...

This is so awesome! Thank you for the information. My wife and I just discovered xc skiing on a recent trip to Bryce Canyon and are looking to get into the sport. Do you use classic skis or Nordic touring skis for trips like this?

Alicia Baker said...

Cool! I use classic xc skis.