Backpacking in the Uinta Mountains: A Must-Do Adventure in Utah

Backpacking in the Uinta Mountains is paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
Backpacking in the Uinta Mountains is paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Louis Arevalo
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If you are considering a backpacking trip in the Flaming Gorge area, the High Uinta Mountains can’t be beat. With hundreds of miles of trails that wind through thick forests of lodge pole pine to majestic summits above the tree line, plus meadows of wildflowers to alpine lakes overflowing with trout, backpacking in the Uinta Mountains is paradise for any outdoor lover.

What Makes It Great

An overnight trip to Teepee Lake is well within the abilities of most folks and gives you the perfect escape from the daily routine. Up here you will leave the crowds behind. The seven-mile out and back trail is well used and easy to follow and climbs 1,000 feet in elevation over the course of three miles. You can find the trailhead just south of Browne Lake off of the Sheep Creek and Spirit Lake Backways.

If you have a rod you might want to bring it as well. In Lower Teepee Lake you may catch brook trout and in Upper Teepee Lake, cutthroat. The trail is open to hiking and horse packing and is fairly shaded from the midday sun by the pine and aspen trees. You can add an additional day to your trip and hike another 1.5 miles to Red Lake.

The trail to Teepee Lake is one of hundreds of miles of trails in the Uinta Mountains.
The trail to Teepee Lake is one of hundreds of miles of trails in the Uinta Mountains. Louis Arevalo

What You’ll Remember

The hike begins by making a few stream crossings before the climbing really begins. Down low you will travel through a sparse forest of ponderosa pines. As you gain elevation the ponderosas are replaced by thicker stands of lodge pole pines. The trail is rugged and faint in spots, but blue diamonds nailed to the trees will lead the way. Eventually the trail climbs to the junction of Teepee Lake and Red Lake Trail.

The Teepee Lakes are small mountain lakes and offer decent camping up the hill on the north side of the lower lake. The upper lake is east of the lower. The view of Leidy Peak, one of the many peaks above 12,000 feet in the Uintas, towering over the lakes is spectacular. Pitch your tent in the trees then fish from the shore for dinner. The solitude and freedom of backpacking is all yours.

Turn your backpacking trip into an overnighter in the Uintas.
Turn your backpacking trip into an overnighter in the Uintas. Louis Arevalo

Who’s Going to Love It

An overnight trip to Teepee Lake is ideal for avid hikers, anglers, and everyone who enjoys a wilderness experience. The trail is rugged and steep in sections so some fitness and the ability to carry a pack loaded with overnight essentials are key. If you don’t have time for an overnighter, more seasoned hikers can easily do the out and back hike of seven miles in a relaxed day.

Teepee Lake and many other destinations throughout the Uinta Mountains are perfect for all ages. You’re never too young to begin and never too old to stop backpacking.

The Uinta Mountains are threaded with trails ideal for backpacking.
The Uinta Mountains are threaded with trails ideal for backpacking. Louis Arevalo

Directions, Parking, and Regulations

Fifteen-and-a-half miles north of the junction with Highway 191 on Highway 44 turn west onto the Sheep Creek Scenic Backway, Forest Road 218. After four miles take the Spirit Lake Scenic Backway Spur and follow the signs that lead to Browne Lake. From the Browne Lake Campground head north for less than one mile along a rough dirt road to the trailhead. If you have a low clearance vehicle you may leave it parked at the campground or dam.

 

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