Naturalist Basin

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Hard
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
5-7h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
20.6 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
502 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
9.5
Physical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Naturalist Basin hike in the Uinta Mountains, Utah

Following the famous 104.0 mi Highline Trail, the hike out to Naturalist Basin is a real gem. Though much of the trail is - somewhat surprisingly - below the tree line, the ambiance of your final destination is truly incredible, a serenity like no other.

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Route Description

The Highline Trail is an impressive 104.0 mi trek that crosses most of the High Uintas Wilderness. You will follow this trail for much of your hike, before taking a detour at approximately the 5.0 mi mark.

After beginning the trail near the restrooms, the trail will descend a short ways. Soon you will enter into the official Uintas Wilderness. A sign will outline the rules for camping in the backcountry here.

The entire trail gently undulates up and down, but never has any sustained climbing or descending. After a fair amount of hiking you will pass the turnoff for Packard Lake, another hike in this list! Continue heading along the Highline Trail until you reach a more major junction. At that junction, turn left towards Naturalist Basin.

Here the trail will actually gain a more substantial amount of elevation. It’ll all be worth it though because soon you’ll pass the gamut of alpine lakes! You will pass Verrill Lake, as you continue (turning right at the junction) you will pass Gatman Lake, Evermann Lake and finally your final destination: Jordan Lake.

From this stunning alpine lake the cliffy northeast ridge of Mount Agassiz will take up your entire field of view. Enjoy the stunning and secluded ambiance before returning the way you came.

Find more great hikes in the Uinta Mountains:

Insider Hints

  • Many backpacking opportunities exist along this trail! You could even complete the entire Highline trail if you are super adventurous.
  • A recreation pass is required to park in the National Forest, which can be purchased throughout the park; however, a National Parks Pass is also accepted.

Getting There

From Kamas head along Utah 150 for 34.0 mi. After passing over Bald Mountain Pass and Pass Lake, turn right at the Highline Trailhead directly on the top of Hayden Pass, where you can park.

Route Details

  • When to do

    Late June through September

  • Backcountry Campsites

    Numerous opportunities along Highline Trail

  • Toilets

    Yes, at trailhead

  • Family friendly

    No

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Low

  • Route Type

    Out and back

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