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Backcountry Camping in Utah's Wasatch National Forest

Posted by Nathan Miller on Sep 12, 2014 8:00:00 AM



affordable sunglassesAlthough famously known for its world class skiing, Utah's Wasatch Mountains offers the outdoor adventurer year round activities that challenge almost any discipline. Encompassing 86,440 acres, the Wasatch National Forest feeds the soul of those seeking skiing, rock climbing, mountaineering, alpine fishing, hiking, mountain biking and back country camping adventures.

One of the most rewarding hikes, offering varied terrain and spectacular vistas, is White Pine Lake. The trail is a well-marked out-and-back totaling about 8 miles when starting at the Tony Grove Lake trail head, located in Logan Canyon.


The trail climbs gently for about a quarter of a mile before it splits. Continue on the trail to the right (there's a sign here). You'll cross through glacier created meadows and spruce groves before reaching the highest point of the trail (after about 2.1 miles). Here you will see a spectacular example of alpine back country which offers a late summer wildflower displays set against jagged mountain outcroppings.


Your hike will cross another meadow and then meanders through a quaking aspen grove before it will begin to make the decent into the White Pine Cirque. There are several switchbacks which may offer a bit of a challenge for some, just take it slow if need be because it will be worth it. From the website, Local Hikes:


The area the lake is situated in is breathtaking. White Lake sits between Mt. Magog, and Mt. Gog. For this hike, the view alone is worth the effort!



Sitting at 10,000 feet, White Pine Lake is relatively small, at 300 feet wide by 600 feet long, and shallow but the stunning backdrop of sheer cliff walls is sure to be awe-inspiring. There are several great campsites on the south-east shore of the lake and it's a great place to use as a basecamp for those continuing on to Little Cottonwood Canyon or, for the very adventurous, traversing to Red Pine Lake.


Whether you choose to hike the White Pine Lake trail as a day hike (allot 4-6 hours for the out and back) or as an over-niter, it will likely be one of the most beautiful and rewarding alpine hikes that Utah has to offer.


Safety on the Trail:

  • Be sure to check with the Wasatch-Cache National Forest Salt Lake Ranger District at 801-466-6411 for current trail conditions if you plan to hike in early summer as the elevation often means patches of snow can linger for months. Also, late autumn could mean early snow fall at higher elevations.
  • Dress in layers and be prepared for the temperature to drop as evening approaches.
  • Although it may be chilly out, the meadows are void of trees and the peaks are sometimes covered in snow patches. Eye protection, such as affordable sunglasses, will go a long way in making your hike more enjoyable.
  • Always let someone know of your plans, including where you're going to be hiking, how long you will be gone and when you plan to return.


Most of all, take your time and enjoy the amazing views, wildflower displays and the beauty of nature all around you. It's an experience you won't soon forget.


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Topics: Hiking