Backpacking has no equal alpine venue in the state of Utah than the Uinta Mountains. From classics like Kings Peak and Naturalist Basin, to lesser-known destinations such as Hidden Lake, late summer sees thousands of people humping their heavy packs into the rock strewn peaks and pine forests. But for the beginner backpacker, the imposing faces of the Uinta peaks can be intimidating. Luckily, there are a few gorgeous places only a short hike away from the car where children and the adult newbie can have their first backpacking experience. Wall Lake is such a place.
Wall Lake is perfect for anyone unsure of backpacking as it’s located only one mile from the trailhead. Hiking is on an easy, class 3 path that has only a few short, steep sections. Once the lake is reached, there are many options around the shoreline to drop the heavy pack and set up camp.
Once camp is established at Wall Lake, you’re free to choose from many recreation options. Fishing is enormously popular here and it’s a rare day when you don’t see several families tossing lines into the lake’s rippled waters. You can also go swimming and cliff jumping in late summer when the water temperature warms up. The south-west corner is a good place to jump in, where small cliffs stand along the lake’s edge.
Wall Lake is also a cool place for dogs who love to swim, and the north shore has camping areas with rock shelves where dogs can get a running start before diving into the lake after a tossed stick.
Of course you can always choose to do nothing. Hanging in a hammock, reading a book, drinking beer, or preparing the evening meal can be done in the middle of spectacular scenery that would make any travel-photo editor envious.
If you’re a hiker, then following the Notch Mountain Trail to “The Notch” is must-do activity. Simply retrace your steps from the lake back to the trail you hiked in on, and continue north toward Notch Mountain. After it passes Hope Lake, the trail begins to switchback up the side of the mountains among shelves of rock to The Notch proper, where you’re met with views of the lakes and peaks that reside in the next valley.
From The Notch, follow the rock shelf left (east) and follow the cairns down to Clyde Lake. Around here the trail becomes faint, so use your eagle eyes to spy the cairns and you’ll make your way to the lake with little trouble. From here, pick the trail back up and continue south toward Mount Watson where you will pass several more lakes such as Linear, Petite and Cliff Lakes.
Eventually, just after Cliff Lake, you’ll reach the Lakes Country Trail junction. Go left and soon you’ll be back at the parking lot where you left your car. Get back on the Notch Mountain Trail and in one mile you’re back at Wall Lake and your camp.
Wall Lake is located just west of Bald Mountain Pass on the Mirror Lake Highway. When driving from Kamas, turn left at the sign for Crystal Lake Trailhead and park in the lot at the top. From here, many trails spin off in several directions, but you’ll want to take the Notch Mountain Trail to Wall Lake. You can find it next to the wooden horse ramp. The trail heads north and passes the twin Lily Lakes. from here the trail enters a pine forest with little view of the surroundings until it rises sharply after 1 mile at Wall Lake.
If you’re on the search for a fast getaway from the city, then Wall Lake in the Uinta Mountains is a good choice.