The Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah have so many peaks worth summiting, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Make it easy on yourself, go alphabetical. “A” is for Agassiz, as in Mount Agassiz. This often-overlooked behemoth can be done as a long day hike, or turned into a tremendous overnight trip.
From the small town of Kamas, Utah, take the Mirror Lake Highway north towards Evanston, Wyo. This incredible stretch of road easily rates as one of the most scenic in the entire state, featuring everything from alpine lakes to monstrous peaks and twisting mountain passes whizzing by your window.
Park at the Highline Trailhead across from Butterfly Lake and gear up for your summit bid.
Follow the Highline Trail for approximately 4.5 miles until you arrive at a junction signed as Naturalist Basin Trail. Make a left and hike into a Utah favorite.
Naturalist Basin is home to seven named lakes and numerous unnamed ponds and streams. It is an area of immense natural beauty and a worthy example of typical Uintas scenery.
Make a left at the sign for Blue Lake, which is one mile into the basin. Hikers will pass the Morat Lakes before making a steep climb to Blue Lake.
Mount Agassiz towers overhead, begging to be summited.
From Blue Lake, the way up is clear: head due north up the slope towards the shoulder of Agassiz. From this eastern ridge, simply pick your way through the boulder field that makes up the peak.
The route looks burly but ends up being pretty tame (in terms of Uintas summits). When in doubt, trend left (south) and any obstacles should be easily overcome.
Once on top, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the High Uintas Wilderness: numerous lakes, basins and peaks can be readily identified from your perch on top of Agassiz. Summit elevation: 12,428 feet!
The hike is an out-and-back, with a total distance of approximately 14 miles.
Naturalist Basin makes a perfect base camp for an overnight trip, but the area is often crowded with backpackers. A good bet for peace and quiet is to make camp near Blue Lake.
It seems to attract the fewest visitors and will make for a quick trip from camp to the top of Mount Agassiz.
Ryan Malavolta traded the urban lifestyle of the East for the tranquility of Western wilderness in 2005 and hasn’t looked back. An avid hiker, backpacker and snowboarder, Ryan seeks adventure in and around Utah. He is a regular contributor to UtahOutside.com. Follow his personal blog at kepeusa.wordpress.com.