Big and Little Elk Lakes,
July 2015 - 72 photos
July 31st, I did my first hike for the year. We went up to Big and Little Elk Lakes in the Norway Flat area of the Western Uinta Mountains. With me were Marlene, Scott, and Ron. I had been planning this hike for a couple of years after seeing these lakes on a map, but wasn't sure about the dirt roads going in there. After looking at reports on the internet from others, it sounded like the roads wouldn't be too bad, but in reality, they were pretty bad. It took an hour and a half to drive the seven miles in, and even more time to drive back out. The roads were so bad we had to drive very slow.
Because of the travel time in and out, we didn't have as much time for hiking.
We found one small lake by taking a wrong turn, and met a guy who was just leaving. He had been camping there for a few days, and he said the fishing was good at all the lakes in the area.
We didn't get up to where we decided to park until 10:30 AM. There were many junctions in the road, and because the road wasn't well marked I took the road into Little Elk Lake, which was really bad. We should have taken the other road, a much better road, and it ended right at the trailhead for Big Elk Lake.
I didn't even drive to the end of the Little Elk Lake Road, it being so rough I parked in the first good spot I found and we walked the rest of the way. sometimes you have to see the area once to learn the best way to go.
Little Elk Lake from the north east end
Little Elk Lake was low on water, with a very rocky shoreline. Kind of disappointing. Ron wanted to do some fishing, so we left him and continued on for Big Elk Lake. At the end of the road we decided to walk across to the other road, about a quarter mile to the east of us, but found a large drop off. Knowing that Big Elk Lake was up high, we thought that staying high would save us some climbing, so went cross country without a trail. Big Mistake. Rough country. A lot of deep vegitation covered hidden rocks, making it very hard to walk.
We had to cross some large boulder slides as well, and it really slowed us down. We came across the trail before reaching the lake, so should have taken it to begin with. It would have been much faster and easier. The final climb up to the lake was unexpected, very steep, and not well defined.
If you take the proper trail from the end of road 035, it drops down 125 feet to a large wet meadow. Depending on the time of year you may not be able to walk across it, so stay to the left, or west side. At the north end of the meadow the trail climbs 396 feet, the last 150 almost straight up, a very rough climb and the trail almost non existent.
Big Elk Lake from the east side
Big Elk Lake was nice. A good sized lake, very deep and blue. We saw a few people fishing there, and they were catching fish. We ate our lunch, then headed up over Elk Pass. Originally we had planned on crossing the pass to visit the two Ericson Lakes, but it was getting late and we wouldn't have time. I knew there were some small lakes and ponds half way up, so wanted to go at least that far to get some good pictures of Elk Lake from above.
The climb was very steep and the trail hard to find. Fortunately someone had piled small rock Cairns to mark the way. The small lakes up there were worth the climb, and the view of Big Elk Lake from above fantastic. We decided to walk along the upper level and go around the lake, thinking it would be the shortest way back. Not so, high vertical cliffs all along that side and we couldn't find a way down, so we had to go back to the trail we came up on.
Big Elk Lake from above, looking south.
It was probably less than two miles back to the car, but seemed much longer walking back. We didn't get back to the car until 6:30 in the evening. Because of the slow drive out, it was 10:45 PM by the time I took everyone home.
This hike was not very long, distance wise, and not a lot of elevation either, but it was in some very rough country. Slow going for older people. We walked 5.8 miles, and climbed 582 feet. I will say this, it is beautiful country up there, and as tired as I was I still enjoyed doing this hike.
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Norway Flat road is 10.5 miles from Kamas on the left side. The sign is hard to read as it can only be read going down the canyon. After the first mile the road is pretty rough, and only gets worse the higher you go. There are many forks, and not all have signs. When signed, stay on 035. For the most part stay on the road that looks used the most. Don't be surprised if you end up on the wrong road and have to back track. The area of Norway Flat is just that, a large flat area. Kind of surprising at that altitude.
- 72 photos -
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My photos were taken with a Canon Powershot, SX700, 16 Megapixel Camera which has Image Stabilazation and optical lens from wide angle to 30x zoom. Some of these photos were taken by Marlene with her Canon Powershot, SX260, 12 Megapixel Camera which has Image Stabilazation and optical lens from wide angle to 20x zoom.
These photos are set to lower resolution and compressed 10:1 for faster loading. You are welcome to look at or download any of the photos. If you use them on any other webpage, please give credit and refer back to me.
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