How To Hit the Hiking Trails at Flaming Gorge in Utah

The Canyon Rim Trail at Flaming Gorge is an ideal spot for a family hike.
The Canyon Rim Trail at Flaming Gorge is an ideal spot for a family hike. Louis Arevalo
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From the spectacular scenery and wildlife to the numerous array of routes, the hiking trails at Flaming Gorge are one of the hidden outdoor gems of Utah. Trails range from super easy and short to rugged and long. You can find an hour-long hike or make it a multi-day backpacking trip. With a little planning, there’s no doubt you’ll find what you’re looking for.

What Makes It Great

If it’s your first time to the Flaming Gorge area, or if you haven’t hiked the Canyon Rim Trail, put it on the to-do list. This mellow trail is 4.5 miles one-way and runs between the Red Canyon Visitor Center and the Greendale Overlook on Highway 44. Starting from the Red Canyon Visitor Center, the route begins with an interactive nature trail. From there follow blue reflective diamonds attached to the huge ponderosa pines that will lead you to the Canyon Rim Campground. Along the way you will come to scenic overlooks. The steep crimson cliffs of Red Canyon enclosing the blue water of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir are remarkable. From the campground you will hike to Skull Creek before climbing to the Greendale Overlook. It’s about two miles to Skull Creek and for a quick and easy hike this would make a good turnaround point. Keep your eyes open for bighorn sheep hanging on the canyon walls and birds of prey soaring on the thermals above.

The Canyon Rim Trail, at Flaming Gorge is a scenic gem.
The Canyon Rim Trail, at Flaming Gorge is a scenic gem. Louis Arevalo

Another easy trail that can be done quickly (and is an ideal choice for a sunset hike, for example) the Bear Canyon Bootleg Trail. This out-and-back trail, which is also open to bikes, is three miles total with minimal climbing. The trailhead is located across Highway 191 from the Firefighters Memorial Campground. The double track dirt road will lead you through the forest to yet another fantastic view of Flaming Gorge.

The Tamarack Lake Trail out at Spirit Lake off the Sheep Creek Scenic Backway is a great intro to hiking in the Uinta High Country. The well-maintained loop is 2.8 miles and winds through a forest of lodgepole pine and aspens where you will pass by Jessen Lake. There’s good fishing to be had so bring your rods and tackle. You can find the trailhead at the end of the Spirit Lake Scenic Backway drive, on the southwest side of the Spirit Lake Campground, before you reach the lodge.

Little Hole Trail is a fantastic trail the runs along the banks of the Green River from the Flaming Gorge Dam to Little Hole. The entire length is seven miles, but it can be hiked out and back for as far as you prefer. The trail is easy to follow with very little elevation gain. Starting from the impressive Flaming Gorge Dam you can make your way down this beautiful canyon. You will see people pass in boats either fishing or rafting; anglers should remember to pack a rod.

Hiking trails at Flaming Gorge Canyon offer a variety of terrains and distances.
Hiking trails at Flaming Gorge Canyon offer a variety of terrains and distances. Louis Arevalo

What You’ll Remember

The scenery here is hard to beat, with cliffs and gorges, creeks and lakes, big horn sheep and birds of prey. And to top it off, it’s quiet, so you can find some solitude while you hike, bike, fish, or play.

Who’s Going To Love It

The Flaming Gorge area holds hundreds of miles perfect for the entire family to explore. If you like to fish, mountain bike, trail run, or hike, there are plenty of options here to keep you going for the day in your activity of choice.

Directions, Parking, and Regulations

The Dowd Mountain Loop falls within a National Forest Fee Area. You may purchase multi-day passes at numerous locations along the highways of the Flaming Gorge Recreation Area and at all boat launches.

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