Naturalist Basin is located in the High Uintas Wilderness, and home to several lakes including the popular Blue Lake and Jordan Lake. Because Jordan Lake is only 6.5 miles one way, this makes for a great backpacking destination or a bigger day hike! There are plenty of campsites to choose from, from all lakes in the area and plenty of day hiking options if you decide to camp in this area. For this trip I did two shorter day hikes since I camped 3 nights - a day hike to Shaler Lake and another to Spread Eagle Peak (12,540 ft). You could also explore some of the other lakes like LeConte, Walcot, and Everman lakes.
Hiking to Havasu Falls is not your typical day hike - it requires a 10 mile trek through the desert, a large canyon, and finally through the small village of Supai, AZ. The people of Supai are apart of the Havasupai tribe, which is an American Indian tribe that has lived in this area of the canyon for the past 800 years. Havasu means "blue-green water", and pai means "people". Havasu Falls is one of the most well-known waterfalls in the world due to its paradise-like location.
Getting a permit to Havasupai Falls is the first step in your adventure to the beautiful, turquoise falls, but how do you get one? And how far in advance? What about group size? These are all questions I hear all the time when it comes to wanting to travel to Havasu & Mooney Falls. I'll fill you in on some secrets, tips, and the know-how so you can have the best waterfall adventure yet!
The Dinwoody Lakes area is located in the Wind River Range, and is a popular area for backpackers. The route follows the popular "Glacier Trail", which is the trailhead for three areas - Bomber Basin, Whiskey Mountain and Ross Lake, and the Eastern approach for Gannet Peak. Gannet Peak is the Wyoming high point, and the Glacier Trail serves as the major starting point for backpackers to reach the base of the peak. Gannet Peak is roughly 25 miles one way, so Dinwoody Lakes is a great spot for a first night camp since it's about halfway in at 11 miles from the main trailhead.
Death Hollow is located in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, just outside of Escalante, Utah. The first 6 miles of the trail follows the Boulder Mail Trail - the old route, that even up until 1924, the mules would carry mail on from the residents of Boulder, UT to Escalante, UT. Boulder, UT is right along Highway 12, which wasn't even paved until the 1970's, was the last area in the US to gain automobile access! No matter how much this area has changed due to technology, you'll immediately find yourself in the backcountry and won't see people for days. Over our 3 day adventure, my friend and I only saw two other people the entire time.
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).