Jordan Lake is a destination among destinations. This hike is pretty gruesome, should you attempt it in a day. This trail is 14.8 miles roundtrip with 1,600 feet of elevation change, concluding at the scenic Jordan Lake. Most hikers opt to do this as a backpacking trip, given the distance. It features a beautiful lake, and some rivers with tributaries along the way. There are also some incredibly scenic vistas while you traverse the Highline Trail, and you should definitely stop to take it all in!
This hike starts out at the Highline Trail trailhead past the Mirror Lake area on the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, or Highway 150. You’ll descend about 400 feet right off the bat, and then slowly climb your way back out. The trail is actually really moderate, with steep sections non-existent for virtually the entire climb. You’ll pass by a beautiful area scorched by forest fires; you may be wondering why I say it’s “beautiful”. Once you go through, you’ll understand. The havoc created is unparalleled, but the natural beauty is raw and stunning.
You’ll pass by some turnoffs to a different lakes, but continue on the trail. Now, your turnoff will come at around the 4.3 mile mark, and it’s hard to see if you aren’t looking up, especially since this part of the trail is a small decline.
Continue on this trail for another mile or so before reaching the turnoff for Jordan Lake and the Morat Lakes; continue to the right. About another mile will have you reach the edge of Jordan Lake, and your paradise awaits you! In spring time and summer, there’s a waterfall on the far northeast side of the lake, and there are plenty of spots to pitch your tent if you’re staying overnight.
Need to Know
The Highline Trail is one of the most hiked trails in Utah and Uinta Mountains. However, you will find some extreme solitude here. Since Jordan Lake is within the reach of some long-haul day hikers and crazies, like me, you may encounter some people on the trail. You’ll most likely go many hours without seeing people, and then pass a few groups hiking in or out. This is the gateway to the High Uintas Wilderness!
This is BEAR COUNTRY. If you are planning on staying overnight, make sure you register at the trailhead parking lot. Remember to pack bear pins, bear backs, or alternative solutions. Bears have taught their young to get bear bags hung from trees, so this is not always the best solution. Always prepare food at least 100 feet from your campsite, and further away, ideally.
Parking at the trailhead is usually limited since this trail is popular. Carpool to the trailhead so you can minimize the amount of cars.
Pack food, sunscreen, bug spray, and plenty of water or a water purifying device. You’ll need it! Make sure to take plenty of breaks, and take in the surroundings! You’ll be wanting to get out on the Highline Trail as soon as you can once you’ve completed this hike – it’s gorgeous!
Take A Hike!
Get on out there! Jordan Lake offers some amazing solitude in the mountains, and the lake is big and beautiful. If you’re feeling up for it, hike on up towards the next lake, Shaler Lake, for more solitude, or take a shot at scrambling up Spread Eagle Peak. If you’re attempting either of these, it’s probably best to backpack this route!
For more in the Uintas, check out my dedicated High Uintas Wilderness page with all my Uintas blogs! My favorite hikes here include Island Lake and Bald Mountain! Or, take a break from hiking and paddle board at Mirror Lake. The opportunities here are endless!
See you out there – take advantage of the summer weather while you can!
Next blog: Back in the Wasatch. For a bit.