Hike to Ibantik Lake in the Uinta Mountains

There’s certainly no shortage of picturesque lakes to visit in Utah’s Uinta Mountains. With literally thousands of choices, it can be tough to select any one body of water for a destination. Ibantik Lake, nestled below the mighty Notch Peak ridgeline is definitely the hike. Choose this trek and you’ll enjoy a pristeen lake in an alpine setting, plus have the perk of passing numerous other bodies of water along the way. What’s not to love about that?

Hiker Skip Whitman enjoys the view from atop The Notch (photo: Ryan Malavolta/Utahoutside.com)

Hiker Skip Whitman enjoys the view from atop The Notch (photo: Ryan Malavolta/Utahoutside.com)

This route will begin from the always bustling Crystal Lake Trailhead off of Mirror Lake Highway. Get here early; in summer the lot can fill up by 9am, and you’ll have to do some creative parking or wait for someone to leave if you can’t find a spot. Several hikes begin from this area; make sure you take the trail for Wall Lake/The Notch. Moments after leaving the parking area you are plunged into standard Uintas scenery: deep lodgepole pine forests filled with flowing streams and dotted with everything from tiny ponds to large, freshwater lakes. Popular Wall Lake is the biggest body of water hikers encounter on this route, and soon after traversing the south shoreline, the ascent to The Notch begins.

Ibantik Lake features a rugged backdrop and clean, clear water. (photo: Ryan Malavolta/Utahoutside.com)

Ibantik Lake features a rugged backdrop and clean, clear water. (photo: Ryan Malavolta/Utahoutside.com)

The Notch is just that- a prominent cleft in the Notch Mountain ridgeline. It’s so well-know that Uinta Brewing Company even named a beer after it (though they later had to change the name…damn pesky trademarks!). The trail switchbacks plenty, so it’s not an all-out gas to get to the top of The Notch. This is a great place for a break. The views are breathtaking and the visibility on a clear day is seemingly endless. After you have fueled up and caught your breath, it’s time to head to the final destination: Ibantik Lake.

Descending the north side of The Notch opens up views of Lovenia Lake and several other bodies of water. The impressive north face of Notch Mountain and the alpine cirque below it beg for photos. Continue the descent until you reach the rocky north shore of Ibantik. There you will find a glorious scene: Ibantik is a medium-sized alpine lake surrounded on three sides by pine forest, and butted up against the rugged and powerful Notch Mountain cirque. Summers on Ibantik call for fishing and swimming, and with a little luck you won’t have to share the lake with too many other hikers. Ibantik’s location on the back side of The Notch make for less traffic than other lakes in the area.

Need more of a reason to spend the night at Ibantik? Catch this view from one of the southeastern shore campsites. (photo: Skip Whitman/Utahoutside.com)

Need more of a reason to spend the night at Ibantik? Catch this view from one of the southeastern shore campsites. (photo: Skip Whitman/Utahoutside.com)

Ibantik makes for a great day hike, but backpackers should also give this lake a try. There are some excellent camping spots on the southeastern shore, complete with a refreshing waterfall just a stone’s throw away. The location is remote enough to provide a true wilderness experience, provided it’s not a busy holiday weekend. No matter how you decide to enjoy Ibantik Lake, know that it’s definitely a good gamble, even with 1/1,000 odds!