Hiking in the Uinta Mountains is like a craps game where you win on every roll. It seems that no matter where you decide to go, you will be rewarded with eye popping views of amazing Utah scenery. Packard Lake is just a short hike off of the Highline Trail and makes a worthy destination for a day hike or overnight trip. Lake front camping, great fishing and endless views are just a few of the prizes you’ll score at Packard.
The hike begins at the Highline Trail parking area near Butterfly Lake. Hit the trail and enjoy the views of Hayden Peak to the northeast and Mount Agassiz to the east. The landscape alternates between forested areas and open meadows. Small streams trickle through the trail and numerous wildflowers bloom from the slopes of the mountains to the edge of the path. Hikers pass Scuddar Lake 2.2 miles into the hike, and .8 miles later the spur to Packard Lake is reached. Take a right and descend towards the first of three lakes in the area.
Wilder Lake is the first stop on the trail. Wilder is small in size but the campsite near the south shore might be the best in the area. Continue to the next lake by following the trail up a ridgeline, then immediately back down the other side. Approximately a half mile later Wyman Lake appears in front of you. Wyman is long and narrow with views similar to those around Wilder. Packard Lake is just 10 minutes down the trail. It’s the largest of the three lakes and the setting is great: treeline runs right up to the shore and there are plenty of spots to camp.
Just a short walk from the south end of Packard is an incredible look at the East Fork Duchesne River. Stand at the edge of a cliff band for fantastic views of the river valley and beyond. Whether it’s a day hike or backpacking trip you seek, Packard Lake is yet another winner in the Uintas. Total distance to Packard Lake is approximately 4 miles one way.
Getting there: From the town of Kamas, UT, drive north on Mirror Lake Highway for 33 miles. Park at the Highline Trail lot across the road from Butterfly Lake.
Maps: National Geographic Trails Illustrated #711 “High Uintas Wilderness”; USGS 7.5 topo map “Hayden Peak.”
Dogs: dogs allowed on trails and in all streams/lakes.