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Backpacker Magazine – March 2010

Central Rockies: Highline Trail, UT

Discover Utah's best-kept secret.

by: Steve Howe

Porcupine Pass (Steve Howe)
Porcupine Pass (Steve Howe)

Well-traveled 19th-century explorer Ferdinand Hayden called Utah’s vast Uinta Mountains—with their gorgeous pine forests, high-alpine meadows, and graceful symmetry—his favorite range. See why on the 78-mile Highline Trail, which arrows right along the spine of the Uintas, seldom dipping below timberline as it traverses a range with more than 100 summits topping 12,000 feet.

The track crosses eight major passes and affords plenty of opportunities for peakbagging detours and sweet layover camps. Highlight: From the pass on the shoulder of King’s Peak (Utah’s high point at 13,528 feet), ascend a boulderfield to the summit. Camp on benches at the head of Painter Basin for a head start on the summit climb—and superb views over an idyllic meadow. Schedule at least seven days for this life-lister.

The Way
Start: From Vernal, Utah, drive 20 miles north on US 191; turn west on FR 018, and go 13.5 miles. Turn north on FR 043 and go 10 miles to Leidy Peak trailhead. Finish: Highline trailhead on UT 150 at Hayden Pass.

Trails Illustrated High Uintas Wilderness ($10,

Wasatch-Cache National Forest, (801) 236-3400; Ashley National Forest, (435) 789-1181

Trip Data

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Reader Rating: -


Apr 05, 2012

You should look up David Paulides. He is a former police officer and has written a very interesting, yet disturbing book: Missing 411. Apparently, people going missing in Natl. Parks is more frequent than most realize. Kinda of scary.

Helen Matthews
Aug 14, 2011

Please post wherever you can. Have you seen Eric Robinson?
Calling Volunteers! Missing Hiker on Highline Trail, Uintas, Utah
My good friend, 63 year old Eric Robinson from Australia, set off to thru hike the Highline Trail 7.28.11. He was scheduled to finish Sunday 8.7.11. He is now 2 days overdue. No word has been heard from him or of him. Please Call Sherriff Mitchell at 435.738.2015 or Julia Geisler 415.695.4502 if you are available for the next few days to join the search or have any info.
Last seen 8.2.2011 by boy scout leader. Any leads needed!

May 17, 2011

In the article in the latest issue of backpacker, a shuttle to the trail is mentioned. Does anyone know any information about the shuttle?


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