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Kings Peak Specifics

  • Distance: Average hiking distance is 28.8 miles roundtrip
  • Starting Elevation: 9,430ft
  • Summit Elevation: 13,528ft
  • Elevation Gain: 4,098ft
  • Best Season: End of June to the End of September are probably best for the hike but conditions may vary
  • Henry's Fork Trailhead to:
    • Aligator Lake: 2.9 miles
    • Elkhorn Crossing: 5.3 miles
    • Dollar Lake: 7.2 miles
    • Kings Peak: 14.4 miles
  • Peak Coordinates: 40.77N 110.37W
  • Key Landmark Elevations:
    • Henry's Fork Trailhead: 9,430ft
    • Dollar Lake: 10,785ft
    • Gunsight Pass: 11,888ft
    • Anderson Pass: 12,700ft
    • Kings Peak: 13,528ft
  • Link to Topo Map
Henrys Fork Basin


I did this hike for the first time this year (05) in the beginning of August. A friend of mine was looking for something to do while his wife was out of town and so we decided we would take Friday off work and climb Kings Peak. I donít think Iíll go into detail about our trip because Adam has and you can find his trip report at the bottom of the page. Instead let me tell you some things that you can probably expect from this hike and some things your probably ought to be ready to deal with.
  1. There will be lots of people on the trail, donít expect this to be an isolated backcountry trip. We passed at least 50 people on the trail and at least another 50 were camped at Dollar Lake when we got there. At the top of the Peak we were two of about 20 people there.
  2. Be prepared to deal with the mosquitoes. Regardless of where we were in the valley they found us. Once we got up around Anderson Pass we were fine but anywhere below that be ready.
  3. Donít over-pack. I know itís hard not to if you havenít done much hiking but you have to remember that anything you put in that pack is going to add weight to what youíre carrying on your back.
  4. Things you need to take:
    • Water filter/purifier
    • Good hiking shoes, socks, and clothing (your feet will get wet)
    • Map or trail instructions, the trail isnít completely marked everywhere, especially after you reach Gunsight Pass so it will be very beneficial to have a map to guide
    • Warm sleeping bag, it WILL get cold at night
    • First Aid Kit (make sure you have mole skin, sunscreen, and repellant)

  5. Learn about altitude sickness and how to treat it. Be prepared for this and know what to do if someone in your party needs help, itís not that uncommon especially for a hike like this
  6. It WILL rain sometime while you are there. The Uinta mountains are known for their afternoon thunderstorms. Be prepared and donít risk you life by taking the peak during a storm

This is a fun and challenging hike. The scenery is amazing, Iím not sure there are many more pristine and majestic places around.

Hiking toward Anderson Pass
Fishing Dollar Lake
The top of Kings Peak
A small brook just before Anderson Pass
Anderson Pass
Moose by our camp
Fishing the Yellowstone river
Starting the trek back

Kings Peak trip from 8/4/05 to 8/6/05

When I heard Rachel was going down to St George on an ďall girlsĒ trip with my Mom and sister, I immediately began to plan some kind of camping trip. I hadnít been out on anything lately and wanted to try something new. I decided to do a challenging backpacking trip somewhere relatively close and started searching. I came across a several and decided Kings Peak would be great. It was a popular hike of nearly 30 miles, had great fishing, and was also the highest peak in Utah at over 13,500 ft. I proposed the idea to a coworker/high school buddy Josh Whitmer and we began making preparations a month or so in advance.

We left SLC at about 4:30 pm and drove over through Evanston and down through Mountain View to hit the Henryís Fork Trail head (9440í) at about 6:45. We mounted our packs and headed off as fast as possible to stay in the light.

After about 40 minutes we hit the Alligator Lake trailhead (2.9 miles in and 430í ft elevation gain) and adjusted our packs, shoes, and got a drink. We then pressed on and hit Elkhorn crossing (another 2.4 miles and 455í of elevation) where you can fjord the river or cross on a log footbridge; we chose the footbridge, though we would be just as wet later on.

At about 9:00 we hit what looked like on the map a stream crossing, but it turned out to be a marshy drainage area. We donned our headlamps as the lighting became all the sudden more important and picked our way through the muddy grassy area. Though I had nearly 50 lbs on Josh, he found more mud and along with it more water as we picked our way through one drainage and then another. We decided we werenít going to last much longer as the blisters on the balls of my feet were wearing thin and the chaffing was nearly unbearable for both of us.

We decided at mile 7.5, 9:30 pm that we were close enough and dropped our packs. We headed back down to the stream to fill up with water and headed back to camp for bagels, some dehydrated chili and macaroni creation, and hot chocolate before bed. We were glad to be there having climbed 1385 ft. at 7.5 miles in 2.5 hrs. We slept under the stars on thermarests in bivy sacks with ibuprofen.

We awoke the next day to see several other groups in the nearby pines including a few scout groups, yeahÖ. We also found we had passed the Dollar Lake turnoff by about a quarter mile. We had some oatmeal and hot chocolate for breakfast. We packed up and headed up the trail another 1.5 miles and dropped out packs in the trees. We marked the location on the GPS, grabbed some food and water for the ascent and headed off to Gunsight pass at about 9:00 am. The view was incredible as the towering mountains surrounded the basin leaving the trees at the bottom and shooting thousands of feet up. It was strange to think that in a few hours we would be higher than them all.

We passed a few scout groups on our way up and stayed in the shadows of Gilbert peak. We rose above the tree line as we made the final push to Gunsight pass, stopping for a quick picture and water break. Once at gunsight pass, you could see over into painter basin lit with the midmorning sun dotted with little ponds and meandering streams. We continued on traversing the base of the western ridgeline and bypassing the extra 2.5 mile trail leading through the heart of the basin.

As we rounded the base of the mountain, we reached the main trail again and filled up for water in one of the many streams running off the snow packed ridges. We would begin climbing again and our lungs began to noticeably need more air to get the needed oxygen.

Climbing up towards Anderson pass, we traversed snow and rock. At the top of Andersonís pass (12780í), you could look over into Yellowstone basin, painter basin, and back to the Henryís fork basin where we had begun our trip.

After a short snack break, we began the ascent up to the top. The trail faded in and out as most of the time we were on all fours scrambling up rocks and boulders for the last 800í climb. That ascent took us about 1.25 hrs and was grueling as our lungs screamed for air as we pushed to beat the gathering clouds. The ascent was all worth it once we reached the top of Kings Peak at 12:45 pm, the top of the Utah world (13528í 40.77įN, 110.37įW) Looking out from the top you can see everywhere.

We threw on our windbreakers and began descending as we could see dark clouds coming in from painter basin. We had read of numerous people being trapped on the mountain in lightening storms, hail, snow, and freezing rain. We decided early on, we preferred not to experience that.

Scrambling down was much easier than scrambling up. We made it down in about 45 minutes to Andersonís pass and then over to the chute.It is called a chute because you basically go sideways boot skiing down the scree as you drop 1000 ft in just under a quarter mile. This was a bit difficult and painful on the knees and ankles, but worth bypassing the extra mileage heading back through painter basin.

At the bottom of the chute, we filled up again with water as the clouds and thunder grew stronger above us. We were very grateful to be in the basin out of the storm. It began to rain a little as we trudged back towards camp.

After we stopped to fill up with water, we soon realized that the nauseous feelings we were having up on top had remained with us and were being accompanied by a splitting headache. We had eaten rather well and remained hydrated, so we attributed it to altitude sickness. We decided to just push straight back to our packs not adhering to the trail. I was so determined to get there as fast as possible, Josh said that only someone that was utterly exhausted and out of their mind would walk through the things I was going through. I was walking through streams, bushes, trees, all on a strait course to our packs via GPS.

Once back at our packs, we put them on and waddled back over towards Dollar Lake where we made camp, popped more ibuprofen and I took a nap while Josh made Lasagna for lunch around 3:30 pm. After lunch, we then took a nap for about an hour and then headed down to Dollar Lake to fish. We shared the lake with a few scouts and some random campers. After about 30 minutes I hooked onto a fat brook trout and that was the only one of the evening. I am a very amateur fly-fisherman and Josh is the expert, so he was quite frustrated getting skunked that day. He would prove himself later. As the sun set, we could see several bull moose up the inlet and the lake glassed over to enjoy the pristine wilderness.

We went back to camp, made a fire and ate triscuts , summer sausage, and some dehydrated stroganoff for dinner. We dried out our boots and socks by the fire and then went to bed around 11:00.

We woke up the next morning around 6:30 and had oatmeal and chicken noodle soup for breakfast. I was under the impression that if we ate all of our food, out packs would be lighter and we could hike faster. We then packed up and broke camp around 8:30 and headed on our way. Again we passed several scout groups on our way out and found crossing the streams much easier in the light.

We stopped once on the way down to fish the river. Josh redeemed himself catching 29 fish while I only caught one. Clearly I have much to learn. The trip was great. Overall we hiked 26 miles with over 10,400 ft of elevation change in the beautiful Uinta Mountains.