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. --Steve Howe, howephoto.us
USGS TOPO MAP: Leidy Peak, Whiterocks Lake, Chepeta Lake, Fox Lake, Kings Peak, Mount Powell, Garfield Basin, Mount Lovenia, Oweep Creek, Red Knob, Explorer Peak, Hayden Peak
MORE INFO: Unita-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, (801) 236-3400; http://fs.usda.gov. Ashley National Forest, (435) 789-1181; fs.fed.us/r4/ashley/.
- Distance: 125.5
Location: 40.775862, -109.816847
Leidy Peak Trailhead: The eastern terminus of the Highline Trail.
Location: 40.779509, -110.364514
Kings Peak rises directly to the southwest.
Location: 40.762877, -110.63469
Red Knob Pass
Location: 40.739584, -110.673738
Dead Horse Pass
Location: 40.725063, -110.676168
Continue straight at Ledge Lake.
Location: 40.695054, -110.769825
Rocky Sea Pass
Location: 40.722153, -110.863509
Mirror Lake Highway Trailhead: The western terminus of the Highline Trail.
Location: 40.776391, -110.372818