Perched in a high valley between two 11,000-foot peaks, Lofty Lake is a great summertime hiking destination. The trail is easy to moderately strenuous as it covers rugged, and at times steep, terrain over its 4.1-mile length. This hike is suitable for most healthy adults and children. Kids will particularly enjoy this hike as the scenery is always changing.
The Lofty Lake loop hike begins and ends at the Pass Lake Trailhead (40.71417,-110.892917), located on Highway 150, roughly one mile north of Mirror lake.
From Main Street in Kamas, UT, drive east on Highway 150 for approximately 32.1 miles to the signed turnoff for the Pass Lake Trailhead on the west side of the road.
There is a vault toilet available at the trailhead.
NOTE: The Pass Lake Trailhead is part of the Mirror Lake Recreation Fee Area. You must display a recreation pass in your vehicle to park at the trailhead. Purchase passes at any of the self-serve kiosks in the area, the Forest Service office, or from some local retailers.
One advantage of the Lofty Lake trail is that it is best hiked as a loop, offering unique scenery for its entire 4.1-mile length. From the Pass Lake Trailhead, the loop can be hiked either direction but this description will assume clockwise travel. Both ends of the trail are clearly marked at the trailhead. For clockwise travel, choose the trail on the left, which is signed for Cuberant Lake. The trail on the right is signed for Scout and Lofty Lakes, which is the trail on which you will return.
Soon after leaving the trailhead, the trail passes by two small junctions. Bear right at each of them, again following the signage for Cuberant Lake. After the second junction, the trail descends about 150 feet and skirts along the north edge of Reids Meadow, a large open area offering great views of Bald Mountain and Reids Peak to the south.
Near the end of Reids Meadow, the trail turns north and begins to climb, passing by a few small ponds before arriving at another signed trail junction. The trail on the left leads to Cuberant Lake. To continue on the Lofty Lake Loop, bear right here, staying on the main trail signed for Kamas and Lofty Lakes.
After about 1.5 miles, the trail passes by the west side of Kamas Lake. Continue to the north end of Kamas Lake where the trail climbs to a bench above the lake with a few small ponds. Soon the trail turns abruptly to the east and begins following a steep ridgeline toward Lofty Lake, offering outstanding views to the north. Early in the season, this section of the trail may still be covered in snowdrifts, making further travel difficult or impossible.
Soon the trail crests into a high valley between two peaks with Lofty Lake nestled in between. Lofty Lake sits at 10,823’ above sea level, making it one of the highest lakes in the area. The unique setting of the lake with the peaks on each side might make you feel like you’re on top of the world and is surely how the lake got its name.
Continue on the trail as it traverses along the north shore before climbing up to a pass just east of Lofty Lake. The top of the pass is at roughly 10,900 feet and is the high point of the hike. You’ll probably want to sit down here and soak in the amazing view before moving on.
From the pass, the trail descends quickly to a saddle below where the trail splits again. Bear right here following the signs back to the Pass Lake Trailhead. The trail on the left offers a detour to Ruth Lake if you want to extend the hike.
Soon the trail passes by Scout Lake and Picturesque Lake before eventually arriving back at the Pass Lake Trailhead where the hike began. There is a busy Boy Scout camp located at Scout Lake, so don’t be surprised to see quite a bit of traffic in this area.
Total hiking distance for this loop is approximately 4.1 miles.
Rules and Regulations
- Do not camp within 200 feet of water sources or trails.
- Keep dogs under control at all times.
- No littering.
- Pack out trash.
Afternoon thunderstorms are common in the High Uintas. Much of this trail passes through open terrain that may be hazardous if lightning strikes. Seek shelter if a storm approaches.