Uintas Highline Trail Solo Thru Hike - Getting to/from trailheads logistics


Jun 18, 2015
I'm planning my annual summer hike and looking at the Uintas this August. I want to hike the Highline Trail, and will be going solo. I'd be flying in to Salt Lake City from the east coast. I haven't decided if I'll start at the hwy 191 TH or Leidy Peak TH yet, but will be hiking east to west and ending at the Mirror Lake TH on hwy 150.

I'm having a hard time figuring out the logistics of getting to and from the trailheads. Since I'll be alone, the best I could do is rent a car and drive it to one of the trailheads, but then I'd have no way to get back to my car since it's a point to point hike. This would be expensive enough as it is, to rent a car for over a week, and just leave it there at the trailhead. I haven't found any local outfitters that offer shuttle services like there are in the Winds and other places, so I'm not sure what else to do at this point.

How do people hike this trail without having a second car/person or a shuttle?
How do people hike this trail without having a second car/person or a shuttle?

They don't. One creative way I saw on here a couple years back was two groups that were going to hike it in opposite directions and drop each other's cars for them. One guy was solo and I think the other just didn't want to deal with having someone drop them off. There's really just no way to pull it off without help from someone though. Someone should start a Highline Trail shuttle business. Wouldn't be cheap though. It's a lot of driving no matter how you slice it.
Thanks Nick. That's pretty much what I figured. I was thinking the same thing, about groups going in opposite directions and giving each other a ride. Might be tough to plan a trip involving a flight and rental car around someone else I've never met though. I'd be worried they wouldn't show up or they'd back out at some point before the trip but after I bought the plane ticket. But I'm open to the idea if nothing else pans out. I guess this is why people prefer loop hikes.
Maybe someone on here can offer a better idea, but yeah, it'll almost definitely involve relying on someone non-professional to help. It's such a huge shuttle. For someone that lives right on the route, it's a solid day of driving and nearly 400 miles on the road. That's probably why no outfitters will do it. They'd have to charge hundreds of dollars to make it worthwhile. My poor wife had to do that to drop us off, then come pick me up at Chepeta the very next day when I did it.

Yep, logistics of something like this would be extra challenging without a good friend or family member nearby to help out with a shuttle. If there was enough demand for it, I'd love to start up a business for it myself, but as Nick said, that'd be a ton of mileage no matter how you slice it and it would be necessary to charge a lot to make it worthwhile. What dates are you planning for?

If the logistics don't work out, but you still want to get a good trip through the Uinta range in a week, you could make it a loop trip and get the experience of the highest sections of the Highline. Something like starting at Henry Fork Trailhead (no charge to park there...yet), move on up and over Gunsight Pass where you can then join up with the HIghline in Painters Basin. From there, you can head westward, tag Kings Peak along the way if you want, then keep on the HIghline and take that until you get over past Porcupine Pass and jump off the Highline at Squaw Pass. Squaw Pass will take you into East Fork Black Fork, where you can then crest back over Bald Mountain and get into East Fork Smith Fork and then back down into Henry Fork to finish off the loop. Just a thought.
When are you going ..... some friends of mine are doing it in Aug. I could check.
Thanks for the replies.I can definitely appreciate the length of that shuttle route, and understand why there isn't a company offering rides. But hey, you don't know unless you ask, right? As for when I'll be there, I don't have set dates picked yet. I can go whenever though, my dates are flexible.

I still have to talk to an acquaintance of mine about meeting up while he's there on a totally separate trip in August as well, and the possibility of using him as my shuttle. Right now this is my Plan A. He wants to drive to Yellowstone from SLC, and expressed interest in meeting up while we're out there (if our dates align) and possibly joining me for a night or two on the trail. I figure I could drive my rental car to the Mirror Lake TH, he could pick me up there and take me to Leidy Pass and we could start there. I haven't done much research yet on a route for him to hike, but I assume he could make a loop hike or just an out and back from Leidy, and I could continue on the my car at Mirror Lake. Then he could continue on to Yellowstone in his car from Leidy. Still gotta talk to him about it though. This is my best hope but need to have a solid plan B in case this doesn't work out. The downside is rental a car for over a week and just letting it sit at the trailhead. If I do go this route, I'll definitely be looking for anyone else in the SLC area needing a ride out there to cut my costs on that car.

If plan A works out, then I'd be getting into SLC on Aug 26 or 27th in order to align with my buddy's schedule. Otherwise, my ideal date to get into SLC would be Aug 12/13th, but I could go whenever I want.

I'll keep you guys posted on my Plan A. If plan A works out, I'll be offering a ride from SLC to Mirror Lake and/or Leidy. If I have to go Plan B, I'll be asking for a ride there.
what about getting a cab from SLC airport to the mirror lake TH, since it's not that far. Then when you finish, arrange for the cab company in Vernal to either take you back to SLC or if it's cheaper to take you to the enterprise rent a car at vernal regional airport and rent a car for the day with a return at SLC? I have no idea what this would cost is or if it's truly feasible, I just looked at the map and the idea popped into my head.
I googled before and thought I saw a cab service in Vernal. I'm not from out there so I really have no clue, you guys would have a better idea.
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I was thinking Uber too until Parma mentioned it. Thanks for looking that up btw! I would also need an uber from mirror lake trailhead to SLC airport so I would GUESS that would be in the $150-200 range based on the above. I'd be looking at like $500 or more for a car rental for the amount of days I'd be out there and that would only get me to one trialhead, still need to figure out how to get to the other. So the Uber route may be a good option. I spoke to my buddy about his trip and he's basically a maybe.

Since my dates are flexible, I'm willing to try and coordinate with someone else who wants to hike this trail around the same time in August. Whether it be splitting a cab/uber or splitting a rental car or some other idea, I'm open to it. Swapping cars is a good idea but I'm not sold on letting someone drive a rental car that's in my name. Unless it's insured for that other driver, which could possibly be arranged if we can get all this figured out. The bottom line is, let me know if you're thinking about hiking the Highline Trail in August and having the same logistical issues. Maybe we can help each other out.
I wonder if an Uber would really take you that far. I'd be more sketched out about relying on that than a stranger I found on the internet willing to do it. Just my .02.
it would be interesting to see if an Uber driver would do it.
i think they'd make more money on that drive than they would during that time frame doing regular trips.
for $400 i'd consider doing it myself if i'm available!
and i bet others here would also show interest.
Well it looks like there is some interest then! Sounds like it'd be easier just to uber from SLC to Leidy and then uber from Mirror Lake to SLC vs getting a rental car and driving to Mirror Lake and then ubering (is that a word?) to Leidy, hiking back to the car and driving myself back to SLC.

John McKeen and Parma, what would you charge to drive from SLC to Leidy and Mirror Lake to SLC on the return?

Since my dates are flexible, maybe if there is someone else wanting to hike the highline trial in August we could plan our trips to start and/or end at the same time and share a ride/split costs? I think that would be the icing on the cake. With another person or two to split costs with, I think I'd also consider getting that rental car so that our uber ride would be shorter (from mirror lake to leidy) and then would not have to wait for a ride on the return from mirror lake to SLC as we could just get in the car and go.
I'd be surprised if there were any cab companies east of Park City in that region.
Vernal has a cab company. It probably does relatively well given that lots of folks in the oil and gas industry travel to Vernal for business trips lately. Whether or not it'd drive all the way out to Leidy or not, I don't know, but you could always ask.
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