North Erickson Lake, Uinta Mountains (off trail approach)

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jar155

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With the 4th of July coming in the middle of the week and my wife and kids out of town visiting family, I made a spur of the moment decision to head up to the Uintas and have a quick overnight backpacking trip with my golden retriever, Ridley. I decided to hike to North Erickson Lake, but I wanted to avoid the trails and wind about a little to see a bit more along the way. My dog is always up to the task of hopping boulders and trees, so I was confident it would be a casual trip.

We started off at the end of Upper Setting Road (don't come this way unless you have a high clearance SUV). There were no other cars parked at the trailhead, so we knew it would be unlikely that we would run into many others, if any. By the trail, it's only 2.5 miles to Erickson Basin, where both North and South Erickson Lakes lie. Our route would add a bit more distance to that total as well as a lot more fluctuation in elevation.

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We stayed on trail until East Shingle Creek Lake. From there, there's a trail that will help you navigate the pass to the south end of North Erickson, but we circled the shore of the lake (after Ridley cooled off with some swimming), and went up and over the hill behind the lake and across the ridge.

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The edges of the lake were a bit marshy, which caused a few mosquitoes to hop up and attack, but as soon as we started leaving the shore, the mosquitoes left us alone. The ascent up and over to the top of the ridge was a bit steep and tested my resolve to stay off trail, but eventually we got to the top and were rewarded with some pretty nice views. We traveled north, downhill for a ways, knowing that we would have to turn back to the southeast to get back in line with North Erickson. It was worth the added distance, however. There was plenty of spring water in the area for us to get by on.

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With light starting to fade, we turned toward North Erickson and started making a more or less straight line toward the lake. It got a little steep on our final approach, but eagerness to arrive kept me from feeling too tired. We arrived just in time to throw up the tent, have a quick fire, and catch a few brook trout int the lake. I refilled my water bottles with the spring that enters at the north side of the lake, and my dog was happy to get a bit more swimming in before calling it a night.

I didn't take pictures at night, but as is always the case in the Uintas, the stars were spectacular.

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The next morning was beautiful. I rolled out of the tent around 5:30 am, caught a few more fish (all released), and broke down the tent fairly early. The lake was so quiet and calm that it was hard to start the hike back out a couple of hours later. On the way back, I decided to stick to the trail, mainly because I wanted to get back home and drop my dog off so I could hit up another short hike in Diamond Fork Canyon. The walk out on the trail was a lot easier and faster than going across all the deadfall and boulders, though it was definitely not as scenic nor adventurous. At times the trail got fairly faint, as I think most people take a different route in.

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All in all, it was a fantastic trip and a great way to spend the extra day off. I ran into one person on my way out, and he was quite friendly. We swapped some fishing tips and I gave him some flies to use that had been effective for me. For a quick overnight visit, the Uintas are tough to beat. One thing I learned...I need a true backpacking tent. What I have works great for roadside camping, but it's a crummy solution for backpacking, whether I'm alone or with my family.
 

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Miya

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#2
Looks like a great spur of the moment trip!
Does your tent have an attachment to it for your dog specifically, or is it just like that...?
Thanks for sharing!
 

jar155

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Looks like a great spur of the moment trip!
Does your tent have an attachment to it for your dog specifically, or is it just like that...?
Thanks for sharing!
It's just a larger tent. It's not really meant to be packed about. I don't think Ridley would handle being in his own section of the tent well, he likes to be close...often a little too close.
 

Jackson

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Great first trip report! Looks like a wonderful trip. And welcome to BCP!
 

Miya

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It's just a larger tent. It's not really meant to be packed about. I don't think Ridley would handle being in his own section of the tent well, he likes to be close...often a little too close.
Might as well let him into your sleeping bag haha That is what they always seem to want. :giggle::facepalm:
 

jar155

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Thanks for the TR. You have a catchy avatar but I can't tell what it is... the inside of a pinball machine?
Yes, it is! I'm an avid pinball player and collector. When the weather isn't right to hike/camp/fly fish, you can find me playing pinball. I have a bit of a basement arcade going.
 
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#8
jar155, this is a great post! thanks for sharing your trip.

I'm just now planning a trip to North Erickson Lake. First backpacking trip for my 8yr and 11yr old boys. I plan on sticking to the trails with the kids and this lake seems like a good accessible spot with decent fly fishing.

What was the fishing like? Pretty accessible from shore? Dry flies? any advice on the setup you used would be great.
 

Vegan.Hiker

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#9
Great report. Hope to see more reports and more of Ridley. Is he a golden?
 

jar155

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jar155, this is a great post! thanks for sharing your trip.

I'm just now planning a trip to North Erickson Lake. First backpacking trip for my 8yr and 11yr old boys. I plan on sticking to the trails with the kids and this lake seems like a good accessible spot with decent fly fishing.

What was the fishing like? Pretty accessible from shore? Dry flies? any advice on the setup you used would be great.
I caught them mostly on dries, yes. They were pretty happy to hit a renegade fly, but I also got them to rise to a yellow humpy. I was using a 4 wt. Helios 3 rod, but you would be fine with anything from a 3 wt. to a 6 wt. or so. A bigger rod will help you throw a bit longer cast, which might help because the fish there tend to be more active deeper in the water. It's one of the harder lakes up in the Uintas to fish, but they were definitely more close to shore on the north end, near the lily pads where the spring comes into the lake. Try early in the morning and late in the evening.

I also caught some throwing a small woolly bugger and slowly stripping it back in.

Great report. Hope to see more reports and more of Ridley. Is he a golden?
Yep, Ridley is a golden retriever. He's at his happiest up in the Uintas, so we'll be making more trips together soon.

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