At 10,810 feet of elevation Lofty Lake sure lives up to it’s name. It is a beautiful alpine lake located in the Uinta Mountains. This beautiful loop trail offers just about anything you could ask for in a hike. Amazing mountain peaks, enchanting woods, beautiful wildflower filled meadows, 4 picturesque lakes and some of the most incredible views you could ask for. The only thing missing is a good waterfall, but that can easily be added by stopping at Provo River Falls just to the south. All of that in a sweet 4 mile loop!
Length: 4 mile loop
Difficulty: DR5 Definitely a lot of up. And the high elevation adds a level of difficulty.
Elevation Gain: About 1,000 feet
Restroom: Pit toilette at the trailhead.
Dogs? Yes. I’m not 100% sure on the leash requirements though.
Other Info: Day use fee: as of 2017 $6.00 a carload for a 3 day pass.
To Get Here:
Head into the Uinta’s on Highway 150 just east of Mirror Lake at about mile marker 32 you will see a pull out on the north side of the road. It is signed as Pass Lake Trailhead.
I finally got a shot of the Kamas sign (DBP). I have always liked it.
After dropping off our self pay fee we started getting rained on (DBP). We were a little worried we were going to get rained out. Lucky for us the storm stayed west of Bald Mountain Pass,. But it did seem to scare off most of the people.
Getting an early peek at Bald Mountain (DBP).
Bald Mountain Pass (DBP) 10,759 feet in elevation.
And we have reached the trailhead. You can go either way, but now that I have done it, I recommend going to the left, clockwise. I have 2 main reasons for this. 1) I think the elevation gain is a little more gradual. 2) you will be doing downhill at the end of the hike after your legs are starting to get all noodley. If you go counter-clockwise there will be a bit of uphill at the end.
Last time we attempted this trail we got as far as Scout Lake before getting rained out, so I wanted to go the other way just in case it happened again, at least we’d see something new. I am really glad we did.
The parking lot offers a decent view of Bald Mountain and Reid Peak.
There are quite a few trails here. You generally want to follow the signs towards Cuberant Lake until the main split for that lake, then towards Lofty Lake. Always taking the right fork.
The trail starts out fairly mellow through the lovely woods with Bald Mountain and Reids Peak peeking out above.
Scout Peak. Lofty Lake is up there.
Just a lovely stroll through the woods.
The wildflowers are everywhere up here as well.
Eventually the trail starts heading downhill.
Little better view of Scout Peak.
Fun fact: you are near the headwaters of the Weber River. Considering how big it is where I normally see it, it’s kind of weird to be able to say “I stepped over the Weber River today”.
Here you can see it flowing into Reids Meadow. Reids Meadow is about a half mile in.
Reids Meadow offers a stunning view of Bald Mountain and Reids Peak.
And a carpet full of wildflowers.
Another of the many little creeks you have to cross over. They are all pretty easy to avoid getting your feet wet, or have a bridge.
Another view of the peaks.
Just Bald Mountain.
Little creek snaking its way through the meadow.
After Reids Meadow you start heading uphill.
One last look back at the meadow before the trees completely obscure it.
Back in the lovely forest.
It doesn’t look all that steep, but I guess the high elevation combined with the climb was really making us huff and puff. We were making a little slower pace than normal.
One of the few little ponds you will pass.
And another one. I don’t know what is giving this one the colorful, milky appearance. It doesn’t look natural, but is fairly remote for it to be some kind of spill so, I don’t know what it is.
Above view of it.
Eventually you will reach the Cuberant Lake junction. Obviously, follow the sign and keep right.
Another little pond.
This is probably the steepest part before reaching Kamas Lake anyway.
Remember to turn around and take in the view below you once in a while.
Indian Paint Brush.
Bald mountain framed by the forest.
Looking towards Scout Peak.
Even though the trail is currently kicking our butts, it is still really pretty.
Ho boy. More up.
Looking towards Mount Marsell.
And more up.
Phew, leveled out a bit.
First glimpse of Kamas Lake.
Kamas Lake at about 2 miles in and 10,400 feet of elevation.
Panoramic. You can see Scout Peak to the right. It’s actually a pretty big lake.
Well we stopped for a little bit to enjoy the scenery, but we still have plenty of trail to cover. The trail continues along the west side of the lake.
Another view of Scout Peak.
Oh, I guess this lake has been artificially raised.
Little murky pond below.
Scout Peak and Bald Mountain.
After Kamas Lake there is another short section of UP on the way towards Cutthroat Pass.
Really rocky, but it looks like we are almost to the top.
View from the top. Unfortunately, if there is a view of Kamas Lake I didn’t see it (I didn’t try terribly hard) but you can see the little ponds, and I think that is Notch Peak back there.
A pretty shade of Indian Paint Brush.
And some pretty purple flowers. I think it’s a lupine of some sort, but not sure.
After the climb you get a nice break with another meadow.
Itty bitty pond.
This is just lovely after the hard climb.
After the meadow you have another short climb.
Another look behind us.
Nearing the pass and another view starts opening up.
Another indian paint brush. There are about 200 species, I love all the various colors they come in.
And when you reach Cutthroat Pass… Whoa! Now that is a view! I’m pretty sure you can see all the way into Wyoming from here!
There is a faint side trail down to a rock outcropping that gives you a phenomenal view of Cutthroat Lake and the valley around it.
Closer view of Cutthroat Lake.
Aww, we found a little pika. Bottom left, under the rock.
I swear the Pika’s up here are smaller than the ones we see at Cecret Lake.
Kletting Peak across the way. This rock is a great place to take in the views.
Another look at Cutthroat Lake.
As I understand it, you can continue down from here to Cutthroat Lake and eventually connect to the Ruth Lake trail, but that is not what we were after today. To reach Lofty Lake, return to the trail, and follow the switchbacks up over the ridge.
Back up to the main trail, one last look at the incredible view. That boulder near the bottom middle is where we were enjoying the view.
The next short section of trail is the only part that I didn’t like and made me a little nervous, but honestly it wasn’t that bad. I just struggle with thinner trails on steep slopes. But it was short, and before I knew it we were on level ground again.
Tried to take a picture of it after the fact, but it’s not that great.
More indian paintbrush.
Trees and sky.
Bald Mountain and Reid Peak peeking out again.
This last section of trail before Lofty Lake is nice and flat. Through some lovely meadows.
So many wildflowers.
First glimpse of Lofty Lake.
After about 2.5 miles we have reached Lofty Lake and you can see Scout Peak in the background. 10,810 feet in elevation. Phew! I don’t know if it is the highest elevation lake in Utah, but I’m pretty sure it is the highest one I have been too.
Panoramic. That low point up there is about where we will pass over on the way down to Scout Lake.
Some wildflowers lining the lake.
Nice and clear.
Another shot as we come around it.
Pika paradise! And yes, we saw and heard quite a few of them up in there, it was almost musical hearing them all.
I like the way this one came out.
Heading up over the saddle.
Wildflowers, Lofty Lake and Mount Marsell.
From what I have read both Lofty and Scout peaks are only another 300 feet of elevation each. We didn’t do that today, but that does sound like an easy way to grab a couple peaks if you want to.
A last parting shot of Lofty Lake.
Whoa! Colorado Blue Columbines! I have only seen the full white ones in Utah. So cool to see some blue ones!
I think that little pole up there designates Lofty Peak.
Coming up over the saddle (10,900 feet, highest point of the trail) we are rewarded with this incredible view. Wow.
A little bit further and you can see Scout Lake. This will be one of the last few lakes we pass on the way back.
Hayden Peak on the left.
View out again. Now we can see a bit of I think Pass Lake.
Oh, I also took a 3D 360 Photo here. (Google cardboard required).
Small patch of snow. Honestly I am a little surprised we didn’t see a bit more of it up here.
The trail down the other side. It looks worse than it was, it didn’t make me nervous at all.
Another view of Scout Lake and What I am still leaning towards being Pass Lake. It’s a little too big and far to be Picturesque Lake.
Looking backup at the moonscape below the saddle.
Kletting and Hayden Peaks.
Quick glimpse of smaller 3rd lake. This one is unnamed.
Bald mountain emerging from behind Scout Peak. And you can see the highway below as well.
Looking back up at Lofty Peak.
Bald Mountain again. I don’t know why, but I particularly enjoy this mountain.
Looking back up at the saddle we passed over.
And Scout Peak.
I particularly like these so purple they’re almost black wildflowers. Having trouble identifying them though.
Entering the pretty woods again.
Starting to get a glimpse of Scout Lake.
I am glad we decided to the trail clockwise today, and that we tried it the other way and made it to Scout Lake last time. It’s a little comforting finding something familiar after a long while of not familiar.
The trail around Scout Lake is really well groomed. So much in fact this part looks like a staircase. By the by, Scout Lake, Scout Peak, Etc, are all named for a scout camp (Camp Steiner) on the opposite shores of Scout Lake.
What the heck?
Ack! they couldn’t put the same sign on the other side!?!!? Not that I would have stepped on it, but what if I did?
The lake through the trees.
Scout Lake. It was quite peaceful today.
Panoramic. Absolutely stunning! I love when the weather cooperates and you get that glass like reflection. I have still yet to experience this at Mirror Lake.
I mean seriously perfect mirror right now. Incredible!
I never did catch it, but the fish in this lake jump ALL THE WAY OUT. It was crazy.
Oh cool. I didn’t think I caught him at all, not a particularly good shot, but I’ll take it. And I can make out the markings just enough that I am confident that is an osprey. I caught him flying towards those trees across the lake, went for my telephoto lens and lost him. Wish I had found him again, it would have been cool to watch him fish. Only the 2nd osprey I have seen in Utah. Oddly enough the last one was up here in the Uintas as well at the not far from here Trial Lake.
This lake has a couple docs in it, but they are pretty unobtrusive.
Well I was having a good time watching the pretty lake, the fish jump, and hoping the osprey would return, but it was starting to get late and we still had a little ways to go.
Last trail junction. Well signed. Again, hang right.
As I mentioned, the trail is well groomed through this section.
Random.. map? Game? I’m sure it is related to the scout camp.
You’ll cross an old dirt road. I understand it leads to another camp.
It is so pretty up here.
Not far from the shore of Scout Lake you will reach Picturesque Lake. We explored it more last time we were up here so we didn’t explore it today.
Cool rock pile.
This cute chipmunk decided to pose for me. Aww, thanks buddy.
I love the woods up here.
Coming around the end of Picturesque Lake.
Pretty good view of Bald Mountain and Reid Peak.
Getting out from under the shadow of Scout Peak. I can’t say I ever circumnavigated a peak before now, kind of neat to say I have now done that.
Pretty stone wall.
Bald Mountain again.
Broken bridge. Still usable, which is good as the creek is flowing this time. It was dry last time we hiked here.
The stream again.
More pretty woods.
And back to the parking lot. Phew!
On the way down we came across 4 or 5 different groups of deer crossing the road (all DBP). Be very careful when driving, particularly during dusk apparently!
And a jackrabbit (DBP). This is the most wildlife I have seen on the road in one day. Well, while not in Yellowstone anyway.
Sun rays come from behind that peak (DBP).
Even if you can’t/don’t hike, Mirror Lake Highway is an excellent scenic drive. (DBP).
Starting to get a fiery sunset (DBP).
That was one of the most incredible day adventures we have ever had. Loads of wildlife, loads of incredible views, lakes, flowers, and a stunning sunset to end the day. The rainstorm on the way in made it so we had the trail practically to ourselves. Definitely going in to my favorite list. 10 out of 10 squirrels.
As for difficulty, There is definitely a lot of up, and it is a fairly rocky trail. There were some sections where the trail was faint, but for the most part it was strong. Plus the higher elevation makes it a little more challenging. Going with a DR5.
Dogs are allowed! Please clean up after your furry friend.