Uinta Mountains, UT: Highline Trail

Discover Utah's best-kept secret.
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Discover Utah's best-kept secret.

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/.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 125.5

Waypoints

HIL001

Location: 40.775862, -109.816847

Leidy Peak Trailhead: The eastern terminus of the Highline Trail.

HIL002

Location: 40.779509, -110.364514

Kings Peak rises directly to the southwest.

HIL003

Location: 40.762877, -110.63469

Red Knob Pass

HIL004

Location: 40.739584, -110.673738

Dead Horse Pass

HIL005

Location: 40.725063, -110.676168

Continue straight at Ledge Lake.

HIL006

Location: 40.695054, -110.769825

Rocky Sea Pass

HIL007

Location: 40.722153, -110.863509

Mirror Lake Highway Trailhead: The western terminus of the Highline Trail.

Kings Peak

Location: 40.776391, -110.372818