WHITE PINE LAKE, Cache County — Meteorologists recently reported that the Tony Grove area of Logan Canyon is still under more than 6 feet of snow. That means hiking to White Pine Lake would necessitate the use of snowshoes or waiting until June or July. We can still dream, however.
White Pine Lake is a popular hiking destination. The trail is used by hikers, horseback riders and some mountain bikers. It is used as an overnight getaway for many Utah State University students, as well as Boy Scout troops.
The lake is nestled in a mountain cirque near the base of two prominent mountain peaks, Mount Gog and Mount Magog. It’s not a large or deep lake, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty. The clear water, on most days, takes on a nice green color from the bottom moss and surrounding grass and pine trees. On still days, the water surface becomes smooth and reflective and shows mirrored images of the surrounding mountains, sky and trees.
The hike is about 4 miles one way. Even though you will probably see other hikers in the area, you should always follow the basics for hiking.
Always leave a detailed trip plan with someone before you go. This plan should give information on whether this is a solo trip or if you are hiking with others, and it should include the names of each person going. The plan should give route information, such as which highways you will travel to and from the destination, as well as which trail(s) you will hike, the destination for the hike and how long you plan to stay.
You should also carry a small basic survival pack including a lighter, knife, whistle, small reflective device for signaling, a lightweight Mylar thermal blanket, a length of strong paracord, a couple of protein bars, a flashlight or headlamp, a water purification straw, and a bottle or pump.
For the fly fisher who loves small colorful brook trout, White Pine Lake is worthy of the hike and the adventure.
Here are two ways for fly fishers to enjoy White Pine Lake:
Day hike and fishing
If you are only planning on doing a day hike, take only the essentials including the survival items listed above. Take the minimal items needed to fly fish: a four-piece rod, compatible reel and line, leaders, tippet, a small box of flies, a pair of hemostats and clippers. You can either take a small lunch or plan to keep a couple of trout to eat later.
If you plan to eat trout for lunch, take a few sheets of tin-foil and a backpacking set of utensils. Hike at a quick pace. Since the trail is about 4 miles each way, allow for the time necessary to get to the lake, spend time fly fishing, have a lunch break, fish some more, and then hike out before dark. If the fishing is really good and you want to catch the evening hatch, make sure you have a headlamp for when it gets dark on your hike back out.
For an overnight trip, you do not need much more than what you need for the day hike. You will take the essentials and needed survival items and then include sleeping items like a lightweight tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, a cook kit, a backpacking stove, utensils and food. One or two of your meals could consist of fish, but take extra food in case you don't catch anything. If you enjoy cooking on an open fire, you could drop the backpacking stove off the list.
An overnight trip allows for slower hiking. Look at and try to identify wildflowers and take a pair of binoculars so you can watch for wildlife and birds. A journal and sketch pad is nice for recording your experience.
When you get to the lake, pick out a campsite and pitch your tent. Make sure things are secure and then go fishing! Since you are staying the night, you can take your time and not feel too rushed. If you are eating trout for dinner, keep what you feel you will eat (within the allowed limit.) After dinner, you can stoke the fire and maybe take a good book for some light reading.
As darkness arrives, turn your attention to the sky if it’s a clear night and watch for meteors. Depending on your time available the next day, you can rise early for fishing or sleep in. After enjoying another day in the mountains, you can pack up, clean up and hit the trail.
Fly patterns to use at White Pine
Most of the time, the wild brook trout in White Pine Lake are not picky. The growing season is short and the brook trout will hit most well-presented flies.
A few small dry flies like an Adams, Royal Wulff, Renegade and Black Gnat will get surface action. Basic nymphs like a Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail, Prince Nymph or Tellico Nymph will produce good fishing action. It wouldn’t hurt to have a few small leeches and Wooley Buggers with you as well. In the late summer and fall, don’t overlook a small hopper, ant or beetle pattern.
It might be a little early in the spring to think too hard about heading to White Pine Lake, but part of the fun is in the planning. So make sure you start now and plan your trip for this summer.
What are the high country lakes you plan to hike to and fish this year? Let us know in the comments.
Robert Williamson is a graduate of Weber State College and the author of "Creative Flies: Innovative Tying Techniques."