Best Hikes in Ashley National Forest (UT)


Ashley National Forest is located in northeast Utah within close proximity of Salt Lake City. Parts of the forest including the popular Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area stretch up into southern Wyoming. Also in the forest, the High Uintas Wilderness comprises the wild core of the massive Uinta Mountains. Characterized by the highest peaks in Utah, countless lakes, and a unique alpine ecosystem, it is among the nation’s most outstanding wilderness areas. King’s Peak, Utah’s highest point, is located here. The High Uintas Wilderness is administered jointly by the Ashley and Wasatch-Cache National Forests. Trail conditions in the High Uintas are generally poor although the best hikes in Ashley National Forest below should not be missed. Expect muddy, rocky, trenched, and sometimes submerged trails. Official Website.

Nearest Metro AreaSalt Lake City, UT
Area Size1,384,132 acres
EstablishedJuly 1, 1908
Hiking Trails1,151 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Hikes in Ashley National Forest

(*** = Best hikes in Ashley National Forest)

Brown Duck Basin Trail – 17.8 miles out and back

Out and back trail that is probably just behind Grandaddy Basin (below) in terms of popularity on the southern slopes of the Uinta Mountains. This trail heads out to Brown Duck Lake, around 7 miles from the trailhead; and then to Island Lake and Kidney Lake. Fishing is great at all the lakes in this area. The trail can be rocky in areas but the lakes are extremely beautiful and secluded!

Canyon Rim Trail*** – 9.2 miles out and back

The trail begins at Greendale Overlook and ends at Red Canyon Visitor Center in the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Red Canyon is a fantastic gorge carved over the years by the mighty Green River. The color contrast between the red walls of Red Canyon and the green/blue color of the lake is indeed photo worthy. This route follows the south side of the canyon rim and provides many spectacular overlooks of the lake below. The single- track trail sits 1,700 feet above the lake and 4,000 feet across the north rim. 

Hades-Rocky Sea Pass Trail*** – 16.6 mile loop

From the Grandview Trailhead, this trail ventures north into the Grandaddy Basin of the Uinta Mountains. Starting out on an ascent to Hades Pass, hikers are first awarded with views of Grandaddy Basin and Rock Creek Basin. Within the basin there are 20+ lakes in a 3 mile radius and numerous spots to turnaround or loop back to the trailhead. Grandaddy Lake is the largest lake in the area and can be reached about 3.5 miles from the trailhead. A loop around Lost Lake, Rainbow Lake, Pine Island Lake and Mohawk Lake before returning to the start is a great experience in the area.

Little Hole National Scenic Trail*** – 14.4 miles out and back

The Little Hole Trail begins at Flaming Gorge Dam Boating Site and ends at Little Hole Boating Site. The trail is very scenic and travels east along Green River with several access spots to the water along the way. The river is framed by towering canyon walls and stately ponderosa pine. Generally flat, the hike is good for all ages and can be shortened based on your preference of mileage!

Uinta Highline Trail – 95.7 miles one way

The Uinta Highline Trail transverses the Uinta Mountain Range staying above 10,000′ elevation for the majority of the way. This is an unforgettable backpacking experience in northern Utah and one of the best multi-day hikes in the state. Most choose to go from east to west beginning at the McKee Draw trailhead off of US Route 191. However, the route west to east is just as attainable. The western terminus is at Hayden Pass near Mirror Lake in Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. The trail comes upon numerous peaks, lakes, and passes in the Uinta Mountains.

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