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Utah Travel Headlines

Friday, August 06, 2010

The High Uinta Mountains - Off the Trail

The Uinta Mountains in NE Utah are popular for hiking and backpacking. The mountains are dotted by small lakes, reservoirs and streams, which are very popular places to fish and camp. Much of the area is wilderness. You can drive to trailheads, but then you have to travel by foot or horseback to go farther into the mountains.

The area includes Kings Peak, the highest mountain in Utah. Every summer dozens of people trek to the top of the peak. Others hike or backpack just to relax, fish, camp and take photos.

The area includes a network of interconnecting trails, which lead to Kings Peak and the most popular lakes.

I really enjoy the Uintas and I've hiked many of its trails. Lately I've enjoyed hiking off the trail – bushwhacking to find lakes that seldom see humans. I'm a serious fisherman and some of these lakes provide excellent action for various kinds of trout.

I scour the Internet and guidebooks to find information about remote lakes. When one sounds interesting, I find its location, including latitude and longitude. Google Earth is a great resource to find coordinates, which I program into my GPS. I think let the GPS guide me to the lake.

Last weekend I bushwhacked to a small lake called Whiskey Island, located in the Bear River drainage. We drove up a rough 4X4 road to within a mile of the lake, then headed out into the forest to find it. The trees were think and we couldn't see more than a few dozen yards ahead. We had to climb a steep, rocky ridge, climbing over lots of dead fall. Rough going, but only for about 1.2 miles.

We hiked right to the lake, exactly as planned. I get a great rush when I find such a remote, beautiful spot.

One guidebook said Whiskey Island Lake has large Arctic grayling, a small, funny-looking fish in the trout/salmon family. A few lakes in the Uintas have grayling and they are fun to catch.

We fished hard but only caught tiny grayling. Many fish bumped our flies but they were so small they had a hard time getting their mouths over our hooks. So fishing was good but catching was slow.

It was a very fun trip.

- Dave Webb

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