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Red Castle, Uintah Mountains

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Distance: 23.7 miles


Day hike to Red Castle Lake on the north slope of the Uintah Mountains.
  • Lower Red Castle Lake
  • Ice on the trail
  • High mountain meadow
  • 03 First glimpse.jpg
  • Meadow below Lower Red Castle Lake
  • Nameless pond
  • Red Castle Lake
  • Fueling up to hike back down
  • Afternoon snow
  • Looking north to Wyoming

This was my longest ever day hike.  This trail is remarkable for it's long, gentle uphill grade.  There are no strenuously steep sections.  I started at 9:27 AM from the trailhead near the China Meadows campground.  There had been rain and snow the night before, so the trail was wet and slippery in many places.  It was also surprisingly cold for mid-August, with several places on the trail with ice.  The skies started as clear, but became clouded over by 11 AM.  This created a worry about the rest of the day; the Uintahs can have miserably cold weather any time of year.  But the blue began breaking through and by the time I reached the basin at the foot of Red Castle, I trusted that the weather would hold.

The last five miles were work.  Although it was gentle downhill walking, I was tired by this point.  I had a headlamp with me, just in case I ended up hiking at night, but I sure didn't want that.  So I pushed myself into high gear, which for me is about 3.5 miles per hour.  I reached my car at 7:15 PM and the sun set about 40 minutes later.  I was glad to be off the mountain by that time.

I would not recommend this as a day hike.  It was too much constant movement and too little stillness/appreciation.  There are many gorgeous places for a camp.  Next time I'm going to spend at least one night up there.  Some time I'd like to hike up this way, take the east basin, go over the pass, and climb King's Peak from this approach.

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