Backpacking to Amethyst Lake in the High Uinta Wilderness is a backpackers dream - a high alpine lake, lots of hiking and fishing, great campsites, not too many people, and cooler temperatures. Although the hike in is somewhat tough (especially if you are carrying a 30-40 lb pack), the reward and view is well worth the hard effort.
Red Castle Lakes is sure to be on everyone's Uintas "to-do" list, especially if you are a backpacker. Not only does the Red Castle area offer four high alpine lakes to chose from, pristine meadows, and great backcountry camping, it also offers a stark contrast of red peaks and a ridgeline to clear blue water that make for great photography. The only thing you won't find at Red Castle Lakes? Solitude.
Let's talk Gear!
Walk into REI or any other outdoor store and you'll definitely feel overwhelmed with so many options for backpacking. Do you want to go Ultralight (UL)? Cook food or eat dehydrated? Do you want comfort or style? So many questions, right?! Then you have to pick the coolest color...
The Yellow Pine Trail is one of the first trailheads you will pass after entering the Mirror Lake Highway, coming from Kamas, UT. The trail leads to three lakes - lower & upper Yellow Pine Lakes, as well as Castle Lake. You can also day hike to Duke & Castle Peak, both over 10,000 ft. This is a great early-season backpacking route when the higher Uintas is covered in snow. The trail is mostly well shaded and offers plenty of water along the way for your pup to drink from or to filter from. It is slightly steep and rocky in sections, so this trail took longer to reach the lakes than anticipated. The best time to hike here is late June though October, or when the first snow flies.
South Willow Lake is a high alpine lake in the Deseret Peak Wilderness, West of Salt Lake City, Utah. It is a fairly steep trail but only 3.5 miles to the lake. The best time to backpack here is mid-June - October, when the winter gate is open and the trail is mostly free of snow. There are two routes to get to South Willow Lake via the Deseret Peak TH or the Medina Flat TH (aka Stansbury Front Trail).
Rainbow Bridge National Monument sits within Lake Powell on the Utah side, and although is one of the largest natural bridges in the world, this national monument is one of the smallest managed by the National Park Service. Rainbow Bridge itself stands 290 ft tall from the base to the top of the arch, and is 275 ft across, making it nearly as tall as the Statue of Liberty. The most popular way to access Rainbow Bridge is via boat on Lake Powell. You can take a boat tour to this area, then walk 1 mile to the bridge. This is a very expensive option, but again, the most popular. If you are looking for more of an adventure, plan to backpack the 15 mile trail instead.
Have you always wanted to go into the back country, sleep next to a pristine lake, on a mountain side, off the beaten path, in the middle of a dense forest, next to a campfire? Have you looked at your girlfriends photos or social media and been jealous of these places? Backpacking is fun and takes you to some of the most beautiful places in the world. It doesn't have to be tough - check out my tips on 8 Backpacking Tips for Women so your first trip is as enjoyable as possible.
Halls Creek Narrows is located within Capitol Reef National Park, only a few miles North from Lake Powell. This area of the park sits between the high cliffs of Hall Mesa on the East, and the Waterpocket Fold on the West. As you backpack towards Halls Creek Drainage (aka Grand Gulch), you'll be surrounded by red, white, and orange slick rock, all while hiking through a mostly sandy trail. The trail is easy to follow, and you can't really get lost as you aim South for 9.3 miles. However, there are plenty of side slot canyons to explore as well.
Fish and Owl Canyons, located in the Cedar Mesa area of Bears Ears National Monument, is a popular loop hike for backpackers looking to discover ancient ruins and kivas, hike through desert terrain, visit Neville's Arch, and explore two scenic, deep canyons. This area is recommended for intermediate to advanced backpackers due to the distance, rugged terrain, light route finding and scrambling.
Teal Lake sits at an elevation of 10,400 ft, and is accessed via the popular Ruth Lake Trailhead. You will follow this trail for the first mile, and then after that there is no trail. You should be comfortable with a little route finding, and hiking off trail. The nice thing is that Teal Lake is a mere 2.2 miles, so you really only have to hike off trail for 1.2 miles. You'll pass a few unnamed ponds, Jewel & Naomi Lakes, then reach Teal Lake. There are several nice campsites at Teal Lake, and fishing is plentiful.