Red Castle Lakes Trail

Evanston, Utah 84087

Red Castle Lakes Trail

Red Castle Lakes Trail Professional Review and Guide

"Hikers planning a trip to the scenic Red Castle Lakes on the north slope of the High Uintas generally have two different trails to choose from: the East Fork Smiths Fork Trail or the Bald Mountain Trail. The first route, beginning at China Meadows and following the East Fork Smiths Fork all the way to its source, is the most popular route. The East Fork Smiths Fork Trail is very well maintained and has a total elevation gain (to Lower Red Castle Lake) of only about 1,280 feet. The Bald Mountain Route, on the other hand, is much more strenuous. Both trails are within a quarter mile of the same length. I have chosen here to describe the Bald Mountain route to the Red Castle Lakes, primarily because it is the most scenic of the two.

The additional 900 feet of elevation gain is compensated for by the fine views that can be had from Bald Mountain Ridge. The trail follows the grassy, treeless ridge at an elevation of 11,500 feet for almost two miles before dropping down to the East Fork Smiths Fork drainage, and Red Castle Peak occupies a prominent place on the skyline for almost the entire distance. The most interesting way to see the Red Castle Lakes is to hike in on the Bald Mountain Trail and hike out on the East Fork Smiths Fork Trail to China Meadows. Not many people do this, however, because the two trailheads are 50 miles apart."

Red Castle Lakes Trail Reviews

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Love this hike. The bald mountain trail gives you all the challenges and scenery. The trail isn't that easy to follow, please have a map and pay close attention to tracks. There are a few trail markings on trees and a few cairns. But I can see how so many people get lost in the Uintas. Wildlife- we saw moose, but no signs of any kind of bear (doesn't mean there isn't). Also be ready for the weather to change from 70 degrees and sunny to hail and 35 degrees in the span of 2 hours or less. The best campsites we found were past the lower red castle lake about a half mile or so just past a small river near the unnamed lake (which is the pretiest lake of them all).
Easily one of my favorite if not my favorite hike in all of the Uintahs. I usually hike in from the China Meadows two or three times a year. The trail isn't too difficult but the length especially with backpacks limits the number of people generally. The fishing in Red Castle lake is also tremendous. I find that nymphs pulled with a slow retreive behind a casting float or Lil' Jakes spinn-a-lure work the best for summer fishing. Go the second or third week of August. Alot less bugs are around and the nights are pleasantly cool.

Red Castle Lakes Trail Photos

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Trail Information

Nearby City
3,010 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
17.75 hours
Midsummer through mid-fall
9,340 feet
Trailhead Elevation
11,300 feet
Top Elevation
Evanston Ranger District, Wasatch-Cache National Forest, High Uintas Wilderness Area
Local Contacts
Lyman Lake (USGS), Mount Powell (USGS)
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018