Highline Trail, Whiterocks to Mirror Lake Hwy


Feb 12, 2014
I've had the Highline Trail in my sights for a while. I've never done a long trip like this, and really wanted to test myself to see if I could actually do it. Last year I was planning trips and I invited two of my brothers to join me. They both said yes and the planning begun. As things got closer my older brother wasn't able to go due to some good ole surprise health issues, so I looked for someone else to join us. Luckily for me @WasatchWill also works at BYU like me, so I talked to him and he was more than willing to join the fun!
So it was the three of us...me, my younger brother Steven, and Will. Looking at our availability, we decided that we had six days to get this done. I didn't want to do all 80+ miles of the entire Highline (Leidy to Highline) over six days, so we adjusted it and decided to start at Whiterocks trailhead and make this a 70+ mile trip. Why Whiterocks? Because I was familiar with it, it's a little closer than Chepeta Lake (same dirt road), and the trail to Fox Lake is prettier than the Chepeta to Fox Lake trail over North Pole Pass.
The dates of our trip were Sunday, August 14th to Friday August 19th, 2016.
So Steven drove down from Boise on the 13th and I met him in Kamas and we left his car at the Highline trailhead for the week ($12 for a 7 day pass). Drove back to my house and spent the night there. Got up the next morning...not too early, it is a vacation day after all, and loaded our packs and drove to Provo to pick up Will. All loaded and ready to go. My pack weighed 32 lbs, Steven 45 lbs, and if I remember right Will's was 35 lbs (is that right Will?). Made the long drive to the Eastern Uintas (approx. 3.5 hrs) and ate our Subway sammiches at the trailhead, now it's go time!IMG_1950.jpg
We thought it was funny that there was actually an address at this trailhead. Left to right, me (Adam), Steven, and Will.

Steven got us registered and we were on our way to our first night at Fox Lake.


We came up on this meadow and I was saying that this looks like a prime spot to see a...LOOK A MOOSE! It's kinda hard to see here. It's the dark spot in the middle. He was laying there just enjoying the day, rolling around on his back and loving life.

We are on the right track!

Steven showing off the proper stream crossing skillz.

After a quick break at Cleveland Lake we headed up and over the Fox/Queant Pass.

Looking up the pass, our first of many on this trip.

Looking back down the pass toward Cleveland Lake area.

Me at the top of the pass and now descending to Fox Lake.

At Fox Lake we meet up with the Highline Trail.

Camp #1 at Fox Lake. Steven and I shared a BA Copper Spur UL2 and Will was on his own...his tent isn't pictured here.

Day 2 we headed toward Kings Peak and Anderson Pass.

Lunch stop this day was at Kidney Lakes. This was a great spot and the fish were jumping. We didn't bring any poles, but sure enjoyed the views.

An afternoon rain storm was coming, and was actually only one of three days we had rain. We didn't have any rain overnight, just the good ole Uintas afternoon storms. Never saw any lightning, and only heard thunder on day five. So weather was pretty ideal the whole trip.

We made it to the base of Kings Peak and setup camp in a great spot. We noticed a cairn off trail and thought someone is marking a campsite. Sure enough, a great spot was hidden back in the trees.

Camp #2 and yes, I brought my chair. I love that chair! And it was worth every bit of its 1.75 lbs. My back needed some sweet TLC on this trip.

The next morning was clear skies and perfect for summiting Kings Peak.
Just needed to fill up our water bottles, and FYI I highly advise taking extra water. One liter for the hike up Kings, and another for the hike down Kings and into Yellowstone basin.

Before heading up Kings, we took a peek down The Chute and into Henry's Fork Basin.

Looking up Kings Peak.

We made it!

And this is the proper way to pose for photos in all situations!

Back down and headed down the other side of Anderson Pass into Yellowstone Basin.

Looking up the other side at Kings Peak.

Now on to North Star Lake.

Camp #3 near North Star Lake.

Another sunny morning for the hike over Porcupine Pass.
Will decided to get up earlier and hike up Wilson Peak and get some shots down into Red Castle Lake. So he'll have to post those photos. Steven and I opted for the extra sleep and laziness.

We met back up with Will here at the top of the pass.

Looking at the other side of Porcupine Pass into this HUGE area with Oweep Creek. I don't know the name of this area, but it is absolutely massive! Photos don't do it justice, you gotta go here and see it. It's about 1-1.5 miles wide and 3.5-4 miles long and these tall mountain walls on both sides and is awesome. We were talking that it is a perfect setting for a Lord of the Rings type battle of 20,000 with a castle backed up against the mountainside.

The trail hiking down.

Those steep mountainsides.

Another afternoon storm. It mostly went around us.

Our original plans were to have a 13 mile day for our final day we hike out to Highline trailhead. We decided to try to shorten that by making a couple longer days earlier in the week, weather and health permitting. So this was one of those days we decided to make it over Red Knob Pass and camp closer to Dead Horse Lake. This pass was in my opinion the most difficult. It was looong, and I was very tired. We ended up hiking just over 17 miles this day!

We waited out a brief rain storm before heading over red Knob Pass with some friendly neighborhood sheep. They were loud!

We made it to the top of Red Knob Pass, and this is looking back over the trail we came up from.

Camp #4 was about a mile below Dead Horse Lake and was another amazing camp site. Probably the most scenic.

Another sunny and great morning! This is hiking up to Dead Horse Lake. Our goal for the day was to hike over Dead Horse Pass, thru Rock Creek Basin, over Rocky Sea Pass, and make camp at Pigeon Milk Springs.

Dead Horse Lake...probably my favorite lake in the Uintas. And believe it or not, there's a trail up and over that mountain behind the lake! You can't see it until you hike it.

I'm still searching for this trail!

Proof the trail really does exist.

Looking down at Dead Horse Lake.

Looking over the other side of Dead Horse Pass at Rock Creek Basin.

Another rain storm, this one had thunder and hail. We stopped for lunch and Will decided to leave some expensive prescription sunglasses back where we ate, so he got to hike a mile or two extra to get them...yes he found them!

After Helen Lake we turned down passed Lightning Lake, seen here.
We did opt for the higher route around Rock Creek Basin. We did turn south by Lightning Lake instead of going around the rim of the basin by Gladys Lake. We still got to see some great views. Too bad it was cloudy and rain off and on.

Finally made it to the base of Rocky Sea Pass!

Going up the pass looking back toward Rock Creek Basin.

Made it to the top of the last pass of the trip!

Hiking down the other side and Mt. Timpanogos is in the distance.

Camp #5 Upon reaching Pigeon Milk Springs, we found others already there. So we looked around and didn't see anything, so we made camp at nearby Olga Lake. This ended up being just over 16 miles for this day. Will needs to share his sunset photo from this night...it's pretty nice!

Final day, and we only have 6-7 miles to go this day. Here's Steven demonstrating Happy Trails.

Some of the scenery...

Almost there!

And we made it!

Lunch at Granny's in Heber was very nice.

Here is the Gaia GPS link from the trip that I tracked on my phone: https://www.gaiagps.com/public/SHufERITmUfNRpfFkU4bwXPt/#?layer=GaiaTopoRasterMeters
Six days, five nights, and on my phone it said 74.5 miles. This link says 72.0 miles...so it's somewhere in that neighborhood.
Day 1: Whiterocks TH to Fox Lake
Day 2: Fox Lake to Painter Basin
Day 3: Painter Basin to North Star Lake
Day 4: North Star Lake to Dead Horse Lake
Day 5: Dead Horse Lake to Olga Lake
Day 6: Olga Lake to Highline TH
The trip was epic, and surprising enough...my legs weren't that sore the next day/week.
Will took some videos, so you'll have to look for those as he finishes editing them.
Any questions?


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Haha, awesome TR guys! Nice running into you out there, I'm sad my depressed face squeezing water in Oweep didn't make it in the albums.
Haha, awesome TR guys! Nice running into you out there, I'm sad my depressed face squeezing water in Oweep didn't make it in the albums.
We think we saw you just after the rain storm in a tall white tent...was that you guys? And what kind of tent was that if it was you...it looked pretty nice.
Awesome report, Adam! Can't believe we just did all that no more than a week ago. Here's some select shots from me and video of Day 1 (with the rest to follow later).

DAY 1:

Fox Lake Pano

DAY 2:

Painter Basin

Sunset over Kings Peak, Anderson Pass, and Gunsight Pass from Painter Basin

DAY 3:

Working our way up Anderson Pass

Descending the last of Anderson Pass into Yellowstone

Sights set on Tungsten Pass across the other side of Yellowstone

I'm just going to call it 'Yellowstone Basin' since it's Yellowstone Creek flowing down there. Tungsten Pass on the left side of image.

Leaving Yellowstone and approaching Tungsten Pass

Lake "11268" just before crossing over Tungsten Pass

Tungsten Lake

Approaching North Star Lake

North Star Camp

Sunset from North Star

DAY 4:

North Star Camp - Morning

Porcupine Pass (left middle) and Wilson Peak (right middle)

Looking left while heading up for Porcupine Pass

Porcupine Pass

A look down onto Upper Red Castle Lake (left), Red Castle Lake (middle) and Red Castle (right) from the ridge to Wilson Peak.

The ridge to Wilson Peak (Kings Peak and South Kings in background on the right)

Summit Selfie from Wilson Peak

Red Castle Pano from Wilson Peak

Descending down Porcupine Pass into Oweep

Oweep (with Adam and Steven for scale)

I concur with Adam and Steve...this place was massive with beautiful backdrops, as if taken right out of the story of a medieval epic novel.

Horseshoes were the theme along the whole trail

Right after this, we crossed paths with @Dan and his Hyperlite group who were also in the middle of an even more ambitious and adventurous route. Unfortunately, they were experiencing some difficulties with their filter system. We did not ask names, so we did not recognize it was him at the time. Only after seeing his images on Instagram did I recognize he was part of the group we encountered.

Oh and don't worry, Dan. I've got you covered (see below)! I may also include a little cameo of you all in the day 4 video. How about that? :D;)

Filter problems = sad faces from @Dan and company

Moving on...

An unnamed lake prior to rounding the mountain for Lambert Meadow

Mount Lovenia from Lambert Meadow

Mount Lovenia (and some of the obnoxious sheep) from where we took shelter along Lake Fork from an afternoon storm

Heading up toward Red Knob Pass. Love the high alpine tundra!

Looking down at Lake "11267" from Red Knob Pass. Crater Lake sits in a narrow cirque off in the background.

Looking southward from Red Knob Pass

Looking northward at Red Knob from Red Knob Pass (with Mount Beluhia in the far left background)

Red Knob Pano (Lake Fork on the left, West Fork Black Fork + Deadhorse on the right)

Descending Red Knob Pass (with Red Knob along the left)

Red Knob Ridge

Adam kickin' back in camp, taking in some alpenglow

Alpenglow along Deadhorse Pass behind the trees

Looking north at Mount Beluhia and lower West Fork Black Fork

Goodnight, Sun

Day 5

I'm calling this, "Deadhorse Cascades"



Rounding Deadhorse Lake up toward Deadhorse Pass


Deadhorse Pass and Lake

Climbing up Deadhorse Pass

On top of Deadhorse Pass, Steve took a page out of Adam's pose book. Adam tries (and fails) at syncing a leap into the air with the timer. :smilecoffee:

Taking in the view from atop Deadhorse Pass

Heading toward Rock Creek Basin

Entering Upper Rock Creek Basin

Moments before the storm

Emerging from the storm near Yard Peak

A small tairn

Helen Lake

Lightning Lake

Nearing Rocky Sea Pass

Rocky Sea Pass

Descending Rocky Sea Pass, the last of the passes

Closing in on Pigeon Milk Springs

Some sunset/reflection pics from our camp at Olga Lake






DAY 6:

Our camp at Olga Lake on our last morning.

A couple more reflections


Adam piggy backing on Steven, siamese twins, or something like that...

Mount Agassiz from the Highline Trail as we close in on the finish line

And finally...the video from Day 1:

@Nick, this turned out to be quite a long comment with all the images I posted to complement Adam's report. If you feel it's worthy/appropriate for a whole other thread (especially if it significantly benefits users page load times), feel free to break it off as such with a cross link back to Adam's more detailed report. Then I can post a new comment here cross linking back. Otherwise, it can just stay put here.:)
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hahahaha. yes!

we were so sick of that damn squeeze filter by then. we ended up cutting up some of the bags and making a nice gravity system out of it that worked much better. i will never squeeze again in my life.
hahahaha. yes!

we were so sick of that damn squeeze filter by then. we ended up cutting up some of the bags and making a nice gravity system out of it that worked much better. i will never squeeze again in my life.

I bought a couple of these Evernew bags, and they work really well. Supposedly more durable than the Sawyer bags. At least, I've had no trouble with them. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000AQYY60/?tag=backcountrypo-20 Then again, I've not had trouble with my newer Sawyer bags either. Supposedly, they've fixed the weak points that were on their bags.

Another option, if you're willing to pack the extra ounce of a standard Sawyer filter, and this coupling - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B018NJC1A6/?tag=backcountrypo-20 - along with one bag to hang up, it makes a real fast and efficient gravity (or even squeeze) system with a Smart Water bottle or other standard thread container. Of course, I bought the coupling when it was more like a $3 add-on item and not the $15 item it somehow currently is. If you're interested in seeing that setup, I'll have it appear in both gravity mode near the beginning of my Day 2 video and squeeze mode in the middle of it which I'll have ready to post up by tomorrow.

Anyways, glad you got it all worked out for your group!
Too many outstanding pictures to digest at once. The physical form of the Uintas is like no other range. I've peered into Rock Creek Basin from Rocky Sea Pass on a few occasions and wondered what lie ahead. Thank you for showing me. Ten thumbs up!
Great write-ups and photos Adam and Will! I had to come on here and create an account after hearing these two talk non-stop about this site for the whole week! (all good things though).

My photos are pretty much all the same but unfortunately were all done on an old phone so not as good of quality. As for my experience with this trip I'd have to say I was really surprised by it. When Adam first told me his plans for the trip and invited me along I Googled a bunch of photos and really kinda thought "meh, not as scenic or cool as the Sawtooths or White Clouds" and even thought about trying to talk him into another place. PHOTOS DO NOT DO THE UINTAS JUSTICE. The scale of everything is insane! I couldn't believe the distances we traveled to get into the middle of nowhere and were still seeing one otherworldly new basin after another (BTW before day 1 I thought this was going to be a 50ish mile trip not 70+). Not sure if I'll ever make it back there but it was the kind of trip that gets a check on the bucket list even though I had no idea it was on the list to begin with.
and BTW, Adam needs a new scale. It did say my pack was 45lbs and I did overpack, but no way it was actually that heavy, or maybe I'm just Superman :)
Thanks for the awesome report and pictures. What a great trip to go on. I've been to some of these areas but the rest are on my bucket list of places to go in the next few years.
I keep coming back to this thread to look at all the great pictures. Even though I go there more than many other places, I tend to think of the Uintas as the close, not as spectacular option in comparison to other ranges fairly nearby. I couldn't be more wrong.

Beautiful photos and great report, @Parma and @WasatchWill.
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