Whiskey Island Lake |

Western Uintas

Hiking Whiskey Island Lake - Western Uintas Hiking Whiskey Island Lake
Western Uintas

Overview | Getting There | Route | Photos | Maps | Comments

Overview

RATING: Moderate Hike
MAPS: WHITNEY RESERVOIR, UT

Thu

55 | 36

Fri

44 | 29

Sat

42 | 28

Sun

48 | 28

Mon

55 | 32

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SEASON: Summer, Fall
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear
WATER: Filterable at the lake

Thu

55 | 36

Fri

44 | 29

Sat

42 | 28

Sun

48 | 28

Mon

55 | 32

View Full Weather Details

The Mirror Lake Highway offers easy access to spectacular high mountain scenery as it crosses over the Uinta Mountains. While the landscape is dramatic, the crowds can be a bit overwhelming. On a busy summer weekend, the trailheads and lakes quickly become congested and busy.

Whiskey Island Lake is a rare gem. Though close to the Mirror Lake Highway and nestled against a high mountain ridge in a picturesque setting, the lake is difficult enough to reach that deter crowds. Even on a busy weekend, you are unlikely to see more than a group or two. We saw more elk than people on our 4th of July weekend visit.

So, what is the difficulty in reaching the lake? There is no trail to the lake, so excellent navigation skills are required. And navigation is only part of the problem. The approach road is also a big challenge. The road is a typical high mountain Uinta Mountains jeep road, with big cobbles, ledges, and boulders to maneuver around. You will need a real high clearance 4x4 to reach the trailhead. A stock Grand Cherokee made it, but several spots on the road gave us pause.

Note: The dirt road could be walked instead of driven, though this may take a bit of charm out of the adventure. The route starts as a rough road from the pavement, then gets worse! If you are intimidated early on, don't continue. Turning around will be difficult until the first junction is reached.
Panorama of Whiskey Island Lake

Getting There

From Kamas, UT, travel east on the MIrror Lake Highway (UT-150).

37.1 miles from Kamas, at mile marker 37.1, a rough dirt road goes off on the west (left) side of the road. This is the 4x4 road that some may need to walk.

0.6 miles from the Mirror Lake highway, a side road goes off on the left. Take it. The next section of road is about as rough as the first section.

0.5 miles from the last junction, the road crosses a small stream and a juntion in the road is reached. This is the recommended trailhead and labeled Trailhead on the map.


Route

If you were able to drive to the trailhead junction, the lake is only about a mile or so away. There are many routes, as you are generally heading cross country in a westerly direction. The map and description below follow a small loop which offers excellent views on the return. You can also return the same way without making the loop.

The Road Section (0.5 miles)
Just after the stream crossing, the road forks. Go right on FR7111. The road heads west and a bit south. Follow it for about 0.5 miles. At this point, it starts a little descent with a meadow to the right (west). Leave the road here and hike west.

From the Road To The Lake (0.65 miles)
There is no trail here. Head cross country. The first section is steep as it climbs the ridge. Zig-zag around deadfall on whatever seems the most natural path. Several game trails make this relatively easy.

Once on flatter terrain, continue west. You can see the rocky ridge in the distance. The lake is at the base of the ridge. Work to near the base of the ridge, then due west to the lake.

Turquoise Waters: Why are some lakes, like Whisky Island Lake, turquoise in color? The color can be caused by algae or a type of glacial silt that flows into the lake and causes the water to reflect a turquoise color. In the case of Whiskey Island Lake, I assume it is the silt in the water from glacial times when the mountains were formed.

Loop Return (1.5 miles)
On the return, follow the base of the ridge as on the approach, then head a bit more due south. Once on the edge of the steep hill, a careful eye will reveal an old logging road to the south-east. Head for the logging road, then go left (east) as it loops back to the trailhead. This section of road has excellent views of Kleeting Peak to the east. Stay left at the junction and then the trailhead will be a couple of minutes ahead.


Maps

Printable Maps:
Road Turn Off

12T 509931mE 4512273mN

N40° 45' 41" W110° 52' 56"

First Jct - Left

12T 509517mE 4513031mN

N40° 46' 05" W110° 53' 14"

Trailhead

12T 509326mE 4512377mN

N40° 45' 44" W110° 53' 22"

Whiskey Island Lake

12T 507941mE 4512251mN

N40° 45' 40" W110° 54' 21"

Return Road

12T 508465mE 4511695mN

N40° 45' 22" W110° 53' 59"

Jct - Stay Left

12T 509334mE 4512186mN

N40° 45' 38" W110° 53' 22"

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