UINTAS — The Highline Trail runs over 90 miles — mostly along the southern slope of the Uinta Mountain Range from Kamas all the way to Flaming Gorge — and offers a beautiful hike.
The Highline Trail is one of the pre-eminent backpacking trails for those who want to really get away from everything. The highest ridgeline along the trail tops out at around 12,600 feet, but most of the hike lingers around 10,000 feet.
There are two main trailheads to the Highline Trail along Highway 150 near Kamas. One trailhead is located at Mirror Lake next to the campgrounds. This trail meets up with the main trail after a few miles.
The second trailhead parking entrance is across the highway from Butterfly Lake, near mile marker 35 on Highway 150. The turnoff is clearly marked, and upon entering the parking area, the road splits into two distinct upper and lower sections. The lower section is reserved for horse trailers and the upper section is for hikers. There are public restroom facilities in both parking lots.
From the Highline Trail turnoff, the hike starts out at around 10,330 feet. The trail leads down a gentle decline to the junction with the Mirror Lake trail. At this point, the elevation drops to around 10,100 feet. As you traverse the lower section of the trail, you will pass some streams and a couple of smaller lakes. There is ample water here to keep your four-legged hiking partner refreshed before climbing to the ridgeline and beyond.
The Highline Trail gently meanders through the pines before making the ascent to the ridgeline. Even though plenty of hikers enjoy this trail it does not take long before you have an entire ridge or lake to yourself. The trail is well maintained too with rocks lining some areas and wooden footbridges in place to help reduce erosion.
Hikers can expect to traverse as many as seven mountain passes on the Highline Trail. The trail is separated by drainages and sections or basins. Natural Basin, Four Lakes Basin and Granddaddy Basin are some of the first to reach. These areas are connected to the main ridgeline trail through branching trails. Hikers can also access King's Peak, Utah's highest mountain peak, along the trail.
Along this area, there are plenty of primitive camping spots to choose from. Fresh water is also available for hikers to refill their water bottles for the next day's journey. The fishing is also quite good in the high-elevation lakes along the trail.
Due to the high elevation, it is best to hike the Highline Trail from early summer to early fall because it takes awhile for winter snow to melt. Whether you only have a couple of hours or wish to devote a couple days to the Highline Trail, you will not be disappointed. It's a trail of such length that just hiking above 10,000 feet thousand is its own reward.