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Central Rockies: Highline Trail, UT

Discover Utah's best-kept secret.
march 2010 rockies highline trail 445x260Porcupine 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.

Map
Trails Illustrated High Uintas Wilderness ($10, natgeomaps.com)

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

Trip Data
backpacker.com/hikes/563528

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