Friday, July 26, 2019

Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains

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Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
Smith Creek Lakes is located along the Skyline Drive, near Farmington, Utah. The hike starts from Francis Peak, then follows a jeep/ATV road as it drops into the basin where a chain of three lakes sits. All three lakes are fairly big for a high alpine lake, and each lake had at least one campsite. The hike itself is really easy, and you can't get lost. Plan on taking a half day to explore all three lakes, and to let the dogs swim and cool off. Smith Creek Lakes is only available when the Farmington Canyon Road is open, typically June through October. There is only a little shade, so plan to start hiking early to beat the heat on the hike back up to the car.

From SLC, head north on I-15 and take exit 319. Stay right on 200 W, then right again on State Street. Left on Main, then right on 600 
N. Turn left on 100 N, then this will turn into Farmington Canyon. Once you hit the dirt road, its 11 miles to Francis Peak. It's a well graded dirt road so any car can make it, but an SUV or larger is preferred in case there are ruts. 

Here's a driving map.

Distance: 7 miles RT
Elevation gain: 700 ft (on the hike back up)
Time: 3-5 hours, depending on how long you stay at the lakes
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash
Kid friendly? Yes, ages 8+
Fees/Permits? None

Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
We parked at the last gate, below Francis Peak aka "the giant golf balls" you can see from I-15. If you had a Jeep or ATV you could continue driving past this, all the way to the lakes, but there was still too much snow for even them.
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
Stay right at the gate, below the ridge on the East side. Almost end of July and still a lot of snow!
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
At the first large intersection stay left, hiking North.
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
Continue walking downhill, along the road.
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
The major trail split you don't want to miss is to turn right on FR259.
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
This will wrap around and below another sub ridge. Again, so much snow! See the road split ahead? Stay left and go slightly uphill. 
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
From here, just follow the jeep road all the way down to the lake. It will make long switchbacks, or you can take a few shortcuts down rougher sections of road. Either works.
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
Finally, we could see the first of three Smith Creek Lakes!
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
Charlie was super happy to be swimming after sticks, as his dad threw them out as far as he could.
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
Hiking up the road, looking back down to the first lake.
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
Next we made our way to the second lake.
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
This one was by far the smallest, but any lake is a good lake for Charlie to do more swimming!
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
Hiking over to the third lake.
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
Gorgeous! This one was my favorite out of the three. I just loved the rocky couloirs with the lake at the base. Best part was that on a Sunday nobody else were at any of the lakes! 
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
Prime time for wildflowers. This is a Sticky Geranium.
Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains
Awesome day to be at the lake! Can't wait to come back, adding this to my list of favorites.

As a reminder, on the way back up is when you will have most of the elevation gain since you initially dropped down to the lakes. This was the hardest part for me because it had gotten so hot up there, that I struggled with the heat hiking up. I was sweating so much and felt light headed. Next time I come up here I will start hiking no later than 7am in the middle of summer!





 

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Hiking to the Smith Creek Lakes, Wasatch Mountains