Hike to Long Lake - Utah's Uinta Mountains
Utah’s Uinta Mountains are well known for pristine mountain lakes, towering peaks, and gorgeous scenery. Visitors can enjoy many outdoor activities such as camping, sightseeing, photography, fishing, and of course hiking.
In this outdoor adventure we’re taking a day hike to Long Lake.
The trailhead to Long Lake is actually the starting point to many high mountain lakes. Hikers will enjoy views of Crystal Lake, many different ponds, and stream crossings while hiking to Long Lake. For those who are a little more adventurous and have enough “TIME”, there are many different junctions off the main trail. These junctions will lead you to Cliff Lake, Wier Reservoir, Marjorie Lake, Big Elk Lake, Wall Lake, or Pot Reservoir.
Beginning the Long Lake hike:
The hike to Long Lake begins in the Crystal Lake parking area. The first half mile of the trail starts out with slight elevation gain and provides views through the pines of Crystal Lake. This is also the location of the very first junction on the trail that leads to Cliff Lake.
From this point the trail begins to gain some elevation with the only difficulty being the very rocky trail. Hikers will be required to go around or step up and over the many rocks which makes hiking a little more strenuous. A good pair of hiking boots with ankle support is recommended for this trail.
Continuing up the trail, the next point of interest is views of Mount Watson which peaks at 11,527 feet in elevation. From this point the trail crests the ridge a begins to descend to the next junction on the trail. From this junction stay left and follow the sign pointing to Island Lake.
Arriving at Long Lake:
The upper portion of the trail just before you arrive at Long Lake has you meandering through a high elevation meadow providing gorgeous views of the surrounding scenery. Once you arrive at Long Lake the first view of the lake will be at the east end, which, according to the sign is the designated primitive camping area of the lake. If you choose you can continue around the lake to the dam for better views or to continue hiking to Duck Lake and Island Lake.
As we continued to explore, fish, hike, and take pictures of Long Lake with Mount Watson towering in the background, we couldn’t help but to notice the signs of an ancient glacier. Random boulders scattered throughout the valley, and very large rocks ground down to a smooth finish. It’s fascinating to view the forces Mother Nature has had on this area.
Fishing Long Lake:
For those who enjoy fishing be sure to pack your fishing pole or fly rod and try your luck at catching the Brook or Cutthroat trout swimming in Long Lake. On our visit, we did manage to catch a few fish with one being a bright colorful Brook Trout. Small Panther Martins seemed to be the lure of choice.
Long Lake is located at an elevation of over 10,000 feet. At these elevations it is very important to watch the weather and carry the proper hiking gear at all times. Temperatures at this elevation can be drastic between day and night or during summer thunderstorms. It can even snow at these elevations year round depending on the severity of a storm. Also at this elevation lightning is a real threat. Click here for Utah’s Backcountry Lightning Safety Tips.
Here is another safety tip to remember. It’s really easy to find yourself wanting to enjoy all that this area has to offer. As you’re hiking to Long Lake you will come across several junctions leading to many different lakes. Most of these lakes are only located an additional .5 or 1 mile from the main trail. In most cases, this seems doable because it’s only .5 miles, right. Well, please remember that.5 miles in this area could mean an elevation gain of hundreds of feet. And hiking just one more mile puts you that much farther from your starting point. Every single side trail, or adventure around a lake adds to your total hiking time and mileage. Be sure to have a plan and a destination in mind and heck, if you can’t see it all, this is the perfect excuse to visit at a later date.
Long Lake Trail Stats:
4 miles round trip. Additional mileage if you choose to explore or visit any of the other lakes in the area.
Skill level: Moderate
Season: Late Spring, Summer, Fall
Depends on how much time you spend exploring, fishing, and enjoying the scenery. Plan on a full day to really enjoy the area. If your goal is to only hike to Long Lake take a few photos and head back to the trail head it will take approx 2.5 hours to complete.
From Kamas, Utah travel approx 32 miles along the Mirror Lake Highway to the Trial/Washington Lake Road at mile marker 26. At mile marker 26 turn left off the Mirror Lake Highway. Travel on the lower road approx 1 mile to the Crystal Lake Parking Area. Follow the signs.
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