Hiking the Unitas

August 27, 2017

We have made the hike to upper Silver Lake above Tibble Fork Reservoir twice this summer. The first time, we had kids and grandkids with us, and concluded that it was too difficult for young children. Scott ended up carrying at least one and sometimes two of his kids much of the way up and down.

Jeff carried little Gracie most of the way up. She’s heavier than she looks! What’s more, it was too strenuous for our daughter, Tricia and she waited trailside for us to come back from the last half mile.

Yet, as you can see, it’s a spectacularly beautiful hike. I didn’t get any good pictures of the waterfall that comes out of the lake, but it makes the last steep, rocky climb a little easier.

These penstamon above are common in the Uintas as are the asters, (below).

I guess we’re slow learners. We thought that because we didn’t have kiddos with us, it would be an easy hike.


I was so eager to share the breathtaking scenery, I forgot to consider the breathtaking elevation.  The next set of guests we took had recently come from sea level and it turned into an ordeal rather than a pleasure for my sister in law Catherine.

So NEXT time we make this hike, we are going to carefully interview potential hikers for their fitness level and length of time at higher elevation.  But for Jeff and me, it was much easier without the kids. Add to that our increasingly strenuous exercise regimen, we were better prepared.

If you’re fairly fit and adjusted to altitude, (The lake is at about 10000 feet), the hike is beautiful and varied. It starts in aspen and conifer forest with wildflowers blooming profusely on every side. We heard a bull moose bellowing in this part, but never saw him. Next you cross a stream and begin to climb a little more steeply. Each switch back reveals a new mountain vista. The last third of the hike, wild blueberries, (huckleberry’s) hang in clusters along the trail. Several patches of raspberries stalls us a few minutes and another berry that is thornless but similar raspberries is also tasty.  A waterfall spills down the mountain and the wildflowers change from wild geraniums , yellow daisies, sunflowers and penstamon to Indian paintbrush and yarrow and a bright yellow cluster flower that I don’t know the name of.  The smells of fresh air, wild mint, willow and pines make your nostrils hula!

We drank the cold, cold (unfiltered) water out of the stream and the lake with no ill effects. My gauge is if I am certain there are no beavers or outhouses upstream, I will drink the water.

The fishing seemed to be pretty good on the edges of the day, but not great where/when the sun was on the water.

The hike to Upper Silver Lake is a little more than a five mile round trip. My step counter indicated just under six miles.

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