Naturalist Basin

Uinta Mountains
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Naturalist Basin

Distance: 20.6km
Elevation: 502m
Time: 5.5-7h

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Following the famous 167.4km 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.

Getting there

From Kamas head along Utah 150 for 54.7km. 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.

About

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


Elevation


Detailed Description

The Highline Trail is an impressive 167.4km 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 8.0km 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.

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.

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