Overlooking Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Photo Ryan Kelly
5 Best Hikes in Flaming Gorge
The hiking trails at Flaming Gorge are filled with stunning scenery and gorgeous wildlife, making them some of Utah’s most treasured destinations. Ranging from short and sweet to long and challenging, there are numerous trekking routes found within this amazing national recreation area.
With a little planning, visitors may choose hikes that range from only an hour in length up to multi-day backpacking trips. Whatever your preference there’s no doubt you’ll find the perfect fit at Flaming Gorge. Here are five highly recommended outings that can be done in in a single day.
Photo John Menard
The Canyon Rim Trail is a must-do in the Flaming Gorge region. Spanning 3.5 miles between the Red Canyon Visitor Center and the Greendale Overlook, this trail is gentle and moderate. It’s great for folks who have a decent level of fitness and can walk on uneven surfaces.
Begin at the Red Canyon Visitor Center, where you will make your way through a short interactive nature trail where signs filled with local knowledge and trivia are displayed. From the end of the Nature Trail, follow blue diamond markers attached to huge ponderosa pines. This trail passes dramatic overlooks before arriving at the Canyon Rim Campground. The views from these overlooks where the crimson cliffs of Red Canyon tower over 1,400 feet above the indigo water of the reservoir below are remarkable.
At the campground, continue to follow the blue marked trail to Skull Creek then on to the scenic Greendale Overlook above. The climb from Skull Creek to the Greendale Overlook is moderate.
When hiking the Canyon Rim Trail be sure to keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep lounging on the canyon walls, majestic birds of prey soaring on the thermals above, moose, elk and deer.
Photo Raymond Cunningham
The Tamarack Lake Trail off the Sheep Creek Scenic Backway is a great introduction to hiking in the Uinta High Country. This well-maintained loop is 2.8 miles and it twists through a forest of lodgepole pine near Jessen Lake. The whole route can easily be done in two hours or less.
During this hike, you will be treated to scenic views of lofty mountain peaks above the glassy surface of the mountain lake. Also, there’s good fishing to be had at both Tamarack and Jessen Lake, so bring your rods and tackle. You can find the trailhead at the end of the Spirit Lake Scenic Backway on the southwest side of the Spirit Lake Campground right before reaching the lodge.
Photo Ryan Kelly
Little Hole Trail is a fantastic 7-mile course that runs along the banks of the Green River below the Flaming Gorge Dam. The trail is easy to follow with very little elevation gain and is perfect for all levels of hiking ability. It can be hiked out and back for as far as you prefer. S
Start from the impressive Flaming Gorge Dam and make your way down this beautiful canyon. For a little more terrain, start five miles east of Dutch John at the Little Hole put in/take out. From there, head up toward the dam and finish by having lunch back at the Little Hole picnic facilities.
On this hike you will see a lot of action on the river: people in boats, otters, and osprey swooping down from above. Anglers should remember to pack a rod. This blue ribbon section of the river holds nearly 14,000 fish per mile. Spend an hour or spend the entire day wandering the banks of this attractive river.
Photo Jeffrey L. Bluemel
Dowd Mountain to Hideout Canyon is a scenic 5-mile (10 miles out-and-back) trail that meanders from a subalpine plateau to the shores of Flaming Gorge Lake 1,600 feet below. This outing is perfect if you have intermediate fitness level, love panoramic views, and crave a little exercise. The trailhead is found four miles off Highway 44 at the end of Forest Road 094 near the top of Dowd Mountain.
The hike begins with a sweeping view of the landscape that starts as slate and ends as crimson rock. From here, you will gradually make your way through fields of wildflowers and sage before descending to the water’s edge. On warmer days a swim in the lake is a must-do and offers the best way to keep cool. After picnicking on the shore get ready for the steady climb back up to the trailhead.
Photo Ryan Kelly
Another easy trail that can be done quickly and is an ideal sunrise or sunset hike is the Bear Canyon Bootleg Trail. This out-and-back trail, which is also open to bikes, is three miles in total with minimal climbing and is marked with blue diamonds.
The trailhead is located across Highway 191 from the Firefighters Memorial Campground. This double-track dirt road heads through evergreen forests and open meadows. is Views of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir are fantastic. Being there for first or last light will give you the opportunity to fully appreciate how Flaming Gorge got its name.
Cliffs, canyons, creeks, lakes, and peaks… nearly every trail within Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area offers you a chance to find solitude.