Lofty Lakes Loop in the High Uintas Wilderness, Utah

Possibly one of the best loops in all of the Uintas, the Lofty Lakes Loop trail is often overlooked and I’m not sure why. This 4.9-mile trail rises in elevation, stops at four beautiful lakes, and has two beautiful overlooks and the chance for mountain goat sightings. This route isn’t terribly hard, but since the hike is sustained at 10,000 feet or greater, fatigue sets in very easily and very quickly. Much of this trail is also very exposed to the elements, like afternoon thunderstorms. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on the weather and have an exit strategy!

Quick Beta

  • Mileage: 4.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: ~1,000 ft.
  • Highest Point: 10,901 ft.
  • Best time to visit: Late May through mid-October
  • Total hiking time: 2-3 hours depending on pace and stops.
  • Kid-friendly: Yes.
  • Dog-friendly: Yes, must be on-leash.
  • Bathroom at trailhead: Yes.
  • Gear I brought: 35-liter hiking backpack, map, compass, small knife, large knife, headlamp, Osprey 3.0 liter water reservoir, 0.6-liter water filter, snacks, raincoat, rain-fly for my backpack, extra long sleeve layer, hiking boots, pants, long-sleeve shirt, Canon EOS R camera.
Your first destination!

The hike

This 4.9-mile trail has it all: starting from the Mirror Lake highway, you walk through some meadows and marshes before quickly gaining elevation towards your first lake, the beautiful Kamas Lake. From here, you gain more elevation and come to an overlook about halfway between Kamas Lake and Lofty Lake. This view is one of the best in the Uintas! From here, you gain some serious elevation via switchbacks to a rather unimpressive lake in Lofty Lake.

The beautiful Kamas Lake. It’s a great stop to stop for an extended water break and snack!
This lake has a beautiful shoreline. I love it so much!
Lofty Lake. This lake isn’t terribly impressive until you realize it sits at nearly 11,000 feet…

Upon further examination of the lake, it becomes pretty scenic, as the shoreline is surrounded by grassy seas, and there isn’t much blocking your view in terms of rocks or trees. After passing Lofty Lake, you come to the real treat of this trail: the overlook of the High Uintas Mountains, with Hayden Peak sitting right in front of you, and the mighty Uintas trailing off to the distance in the east. You’ll then begin your descent, passing by the beautiful Scout Lake and Picturesque Lake before getting back to the car.

The pass between Lofty Peak and Scout Peak. It’s rocky, steep, hard, and breathtaking.
The heart of the Uintas lies before you.

Need to Know

You are in bear country.

Remember to keep a clean trail and clean camp. Always pack it in, and pack it out. The Uintas are dotted with black bears, so sightings are possible. If you see a bear, make yourself large and shout! Gather any small children near you to help yourself appear bigger and to prevent a bear from isolating them. Take out your bear spray and prepare to use it if necessary.

Please adhere to the wildlife safety rules. Stay at least 25 yards away from moose, elk, deer, and other non-carnivorous animals. Stay at least 100 yards away from bears, cougars, and other carnivorous animals. It’s for your safety and theirs!

As I’ve mentioned previously in Uintas blogs, I’ve never seen a bear, nor signs of bears. Common signs of recent bear activity are feces and claw scratches on trees. Make sure you’re keeping your eyes on the lookout! The bears are out there but are often skittish in nature.

Afternoon Thunderstorms frequent the Uintas. Be Prepared.

In high-elevation mountain areas like the Uintas, afternoon thunderstorms happen on a near-daily basis. Because of the unpredictability of the weather, and the fact that storm clouds can move in quickly. It’s imperative to always be prepared for changing conditions.

Most new hiking backpacks will include a rainfly for your pack, and if not, many will have the option to purchase one for your backpack. Make sure you’re always carrying one, even if the weather is forecasted for sunny skies! A raincoat is always a good idea too, especially if you can see stormy clouds anywhere on the horizon. Winds change fast, and temperatures drop fast at 10,000 feet. Stay prepared!

Pondering with a view. This is the first overlook as you approach from the West.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find some mountain goats wandering the slopes. Keep your distance!

Justin’s Suggestion

If you’re looking for a less-crowded trail to do, this one may be up your alley. Of all the hikes I’ve done in the Uintas, this one was perhaps one of the least-trafficked trails I’ve seen in the height of summer (August 2022). Generally, shorter, lower-elevation trails are far more popular, so if you’re looking for a hard day hike with beautiful views and gorgeous lakes, I’d recommend this one for sure! While kids are certainly able to do this hike, it may be tougher – I don’t recall seeing any kids on this trail but then again, I’ve seen kids hike Bald Mountain.

John stands at the edge of Lofty Lake.
The Lofty Lake trail winds up towards one final mountain pass.
Scout Lake. You’re near the end of your trek!

Take A Hike!

I can’t recommend this hike more. I know I say that with most of my hikes, but it’s true. It’s hard to go wrong with choosing a bad hike in the Uintas, and in the mountains in general. They’re all so beautiful, they’re all so fun, and they all yield some fantastic memories for me. If you’re looking for more hikes, check out my recent post on Wall Lake! Another fun bone is Jordan Lake and Island Lake, also in the same area! And if you’re looking for something a little slower and on the water, try paddleboarding on Mirror Lake!

Have fun out there, stay safe, and I’ll see you on the next one!

Parting shot:

The adventure is never over ’til we’re back at the car!

Next blog: That about wraps it for most of my summer hikes. Is anyone ready to see some of my ski photos from this winter? I’m thinking we’ll have some fun ones upcoming 🙂


4 thoughts on “Lofty Lakes Loop in the High Uintas Wilderness, Utah

    1. You will absolutely love them. They’re so darn beautiful and I’m amazed every time I visit them. I always find somewhere new to go, and the views are just so incredible! The hikes are tough but with cooler air, they never seem too bad.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Goodness, all of that pristine beauty! Especially with the lake that’s literally like a mirror, reflecting the rugged mountains above it. The Lofty Lakes Loop looks doable for a novice hiker like me, so thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I KNOW. Isn’t it way too beautiful!? It’s definitely doable for novices – everyone takes their time with it! I think we generally completed it at a decent pace – not too fast, but not terribly slow. And, turning the pace down a notch actually allows you to appreciate the beauty more. I never really rush to finish hikes, especially as a photographer! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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