Near the headwaters of the Bear River, Allsop Lake sits alone in a massive cirque surrounded by towering peaks and incredible alpine scenery. Many consider this area to be amongst the most beautiful of the entire Uinta range.
While it is possible to do this hike as a very long day hike, it usually calls for at least two or three days. This hike is suitable for adults in good physical condition with good backcountry navigation skills. This hike is not recommended for most children.
The hike to Allsop Lake starts at the East Fork Bear River Trailhead (40.858373,-110.754356), just south of the nearby Boy Scout camp of the same name. A Mirror Lake recreation pass is required for parking at the trailhead, obtainable at a number of self-serve kiosks in the area or from some local merchants. Daily, weekly, and annual passes are also available. There is a self-serve kiosk just as you turn off of Highway 150 towards the trailhead.
The East Fork Bear River Trailhead is accessed from the Mill Creek Road (40.915029,-110.827526), also known as The North Slope Road. The Mill Creek Road begins on the east side of Highway 150, approximately 29 miles south of Evanston, Wyoming or 49 miles from Kamas, Utah. After leaving the highway, travel west on the graded dirt road for approximately 1.7 miles. Turn right at the signed junction (40.909653,-110.801874) for the East Fork Bear River Boy Scout Camp. Continue south for approximately 4.9 miles to the trailhead. The road is usually passable for passenger cars but can be a little rough in spots.
The Allsop Lake trail begins by going unexpectedly downhill, losing about 200 feet of elevation before arriving at the valley floor. Much of the forest in this area was burned during the 2002 East Fork Fire. If you have extra time on the way back, there is a short interpretive trail near the parking area about the fire and its effect on the forest ecosystem.
The forest thickens as the trail continues up canyon. Keep an eye out for the old 'tie hacker' cabin ruins along the way. These cabins were constructed long ago when immigrant laborers harvested railroad ties from the Uintas to be used on the transcontinental railroad. Remnants of the tie hackers can be found throughout the north slope of the Uintas.
After four miles the trail splits at a signed junction. Turn left towards Allsop Lake. After the junction, the trail climbs steeply up a set of switchbacks, quickly gaining more than 300 feet of elevation before cresting into the right fork valley. There are some nice waterfalls near the top of the switchbacks that make for a good place to take a break.
From here the trail continues south toward Allsop Lake. Soon the trees begin to thin as the trail crosses in and out of large meadows, offering outstanding views of the surrounding peaks such as Beulah, The Cathedral, and Yard.
As you approach Allsop Lake, it may be a good time to start thinking about campsites. If you want a great campsite with plenty of firewood, stop well before you reach the lake. The views are still fantastic and there is great fishing in the streams. You’re also more likely to avoid the cattle that tend to graze around the lake in the summertime. Or if you prefer, continue on to the north shore of Allsop Lake, which is approximately 8.75 miles from the trailhead.
Once at the lake, finding a campsite should not be difficult, but expect to have plenty of company. Be respectful of fellow hikers and setup camp in the trees and at least 200 feet from water sources, trails, and other occupied campsites.
The fishing at Allsop is typically good for Cutthroat and Brook Trout, the trick is picking a spot on the shoreline where you can cast deep enough. Allsop Lake is also home to a healthy population of mountain goats. Watch for the tiny white dots high on the cliff bands of the cirque, or if you are lucky, you may even see them in the meadows above the lake.
Even though there aren't any other lakes in this basin, possibilities for exploration are still plentiful for advanced hikers and climbers. If you are into peak bagging, there are several 12,000+ foot peaks in the area such as Yard, Beulah and The Cathedral. If you plan to do further exploring, be sure you have the necessary skills, equipment and information to do so safely.
Rules and Regulations
Most of this hike is within the boundaries of the High Uintas Wilderness. No motor vehicles or bicycles are allowed. Campsites must be at least 200 feet from water sources, trails, and other occupied campsites. Group size must not exceed 14 people and 15 head of stock. All trash must be packed out. Only human waste can be buried which should be done in a 6” deep cat hole.
As of this writing, campfires are still allowed at Allsop Lake however due to depleted wood resources, this is unlikely to continue. If you wish to have a campfire, it is recommended to camp at least one quarter mile away from the lake. Seasonal restrictions may also be in place. Before heading out, check with the Forest Service for the most up-to-date rules and regulations.
A Mirror Lake Recreation Area Pass must be displayed on vehicles parked at the trailhead.
Afternoon thunderstorms are an almost daily occurrence in the summertime and can roll in with little notice. Plan travel early in the day and allow extra time to wait out storms as necessary. Lightning is the number one weather-related killer in the state of Utah and should be taken seriously. Seek shelter if a storm approaches.