Ruth Lake is the perfect introductory trail for anyone interested in hiking the High Uintas. This hike is easy and very family friendly, offering fantastic alpine scenery with relatively little effort.
The trail is suitable for adults and children of all skill levels, but it is somewhat rugged with steep slopes and uneven surfaces.
The Ruth Lake Trailhead (40.733804,-110.867542) is located on the west side of the Mirror Lake Highway, approximately 35 miles east of Kamas, UT.
Parking can be very limited here on busy weekends, but there may be available pullouts a short distance up and down the road. There is a vault toilet available at the trailhead.
NOTE: The Ruth Lake Trailhead is part of the Mirror Lake Fee Area. All cars parked at the trailhead in the area must display a recreation pass. Daily, weekly, or annual passes are available at any of the self-serve kiosks in the area, the fee station at the forest boundary (east of Kamas), the Forest Service office in Kamas, or from local retailers.
The hike begins by climbing gently through the forest. At times, the trees thin as the trail passes by beautiful high alpine meadows and areas of smooth glaciated rocks. Don’t miss the interpretive signs along the way. These signs offer interesting insight on the wildlife and forest ecosystem of the High Uintas.
During spring runoff, the trail may pass by some nice waterfalls. This extra water can lead to some short parts of the trail being submerged, but it is generally easy to pick a route across the rocks and keep your feet dry.
At 0.8 miles, the trail arrives at Ruth Lake near the outlet stream. From here, there are many possibilities for exploration. The main trail follows the north side of the lake, but there is a good path all the way around if you want to walk the shoreline or do some fishing. A walk all the way around the lake will add about three quarters of a mile to the hike.
For those looking for more adventure, there are several other lakes in the area worthy of exploration. While there aren’t designated trails to them, they are close by and provide good practice for those wishing to build their off-trail navigation skills. This is also a great area to begin a more advanced backpacking trip to some of the more distant nearby lakes, such as Cutthroat or Teal.
From the east shore, return to the trailhead the way you came. Total round trip distance is 1.6 miles or about 2.4 if you added in a hike around the lake.
Rules and Regulations
- Keep dogs under control at all times.
- No littering.
- Pack out what you pack in.
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.