- West of the High Uintas Wilderness Area, near Kamas
- 4.9 miles (loop)
- 2 1/2 hours
- Elevation Change:
- 400 feet
- Midsummer to mid-fall. (Parts of the trail are usually covered with snow until late June.)
DescriptionThere are literally thousands of mountain lakes in and around the High Uintas. On the 55-square-mile Mirror Lake Quadrangle map alone there are 72 named lakes and several hundred unnamed ones. It is a fisherman’s paradise, although most of the lakes are so high they are frozen much of the year. The area surrounding Clyde Lake is particularly well endowed with lakes. The loop trail described here, though only 4.9 miles long, passes by no fewer than fifteen of them.
It's an easy walk, but the trail can be confusing. In some places it seems briefly to disappear, and in other places there is more than one trail. A compass is useful.
From the view point the trail continues at a gradual assent for 0.5 miles, past another unnamed lake, before coming to the Clyde Lake trail junction. To complete the loop past Clyde and Watson Lakes and back to the trailhead, you must turn left here, but care is needed since the vague Clyde Lake trail can easily be missed. The junction occurs in the midst of a large, flat clearing in the forest about two hundred feet wide that runs along the base of Notch Mountain in an east-west direction. The most clearly defined path continues straight and soon starts climbing up into the notch of Notch Mountain, only 0.2 miles away. The fainter Clyde Lake Trail turns abruptly to the left in the middle of the clearing and begins a gradual descent to Twin Lakes, 0.1 mile away. If you have difficulty following the trail, don’t worry, it gets better. Just walk due east along the base of Notch Mountain, neither climbing nor descending, and you should run right into the Twin Lakes.
The larger Twin Lake is about 500 feet in diameter, with the smaller Twin on the southern side about half that size. Although there is only a thin stretch of land between the two, the larger lake cannot be seen from its smaller twin, so if you run into the smaller lake first, turn north to find the larger one. The trail, more distinct now, runs around the northern shore of the larger Twin Lake. After leaving Twin Lakes the trail continues in a westerly direction for 0.2 mile before reaching the northeastern corner of Clyde Lake. Clyde is a long, narrow lake-about 500 feet wide and 0.3 mile long. At 10,420 feet above sea level, it is the highest lake on the loop, and it lies roughly midway through the hike. If you want to do some fishing and have time for an overnight stay, there is a fine camping site on the northeastern corner of the lake.
Before leaving Clyde Lake, you should take a short side trip to the Three Divide Lakes, located in the saddle between West Notch Mountain and Mount Watson. There is no trail to these lakes, but they are very close to Clyde, and little climbing is involved. Simply turn north near the west end of Clyde Lake and walk away from the trail for about 300 feet. You should run right into Booker Lake, the first of the Three Divide Lakes. Turn west from Booker and you will soon run into the other two. These lakes are all about 600 feet in diameter. They lie along an east-west line with only about 200 feet of land separating them from each other. The total distance from Clyde Lake to the last of the Three Divide Lakes is about 0.3 mile.
From the southwestern corner of Clyde Lake the trail turns southward along the base of Mount Watson to reach Watson Lake, 0.4 mile away. Watson Lake, which is about 500 feet in diameter, is the first of several small lakes that lie like a string of beads along the downhill path leading back to the Crystal Lake Trailhead. The path passes by Watson Lake, tiny Linear Lake, slightly larger Petit Lake, and finally Cliff Lake, all within a half mile of each other. Cliff Lake, about twice the size of Watson, is, in my opinion, the prettiest of the four. The route passes along the eastern shores of these lakes, so hikers coming down from Clyde Lake should bear to the left.
After leaving the southern corner of Cliff Lake the trail heads south into the woods again, loosing 240 feet of elevation and arriving at West Lily Lake after 0.2 mile. Here the path intersects the Crystal Lake Trail, and in order to return to the parking area you must turn left. If you are in the mood for one more lake, however, Crystal Lake is just a five minute walk to the right from the junction.
The Notch and Meadow Lake
As mentioned earlier, the Notch of Notch Mountain is only 0.2 mile from the point where Clyde Lake Trail branches off the main trail. Before making the turn to Clyde Lake, some hikers may want to climb into the notch. At an elevation of 10,580 feet, the Notch is only 120 feet higher than the trail junction, and the view is well worth the climb. If you drop down on the other side of the Notch for another 0.2 mile you will come to Lovenia Lake, about 300 feet across, and beyond Lovenia the route passes Ibantic and Meadow Lakes. Meadow Lake, nearly as big as Wall Lake, is 2.1 miles from the Notch.