Backpack to Cutthroat Lake

Rate this Adventure Utah Ruth Lake Trailhead

Added by Eric Harris

An overnight backpacking trip in the High Uintas with spectacular landscape at 10,400 ft. The trail is spotted with picturesque mountain lakes and boasts excellent views of Hayden Peak.  Find wilderness solitude at Cutthroat Lake.  

There isn't a trail to Cutthroat Lake so for a portion of the hike will be cross-country.  I highly recommend bringing a GPS but with intermediate route-finding skills you should be able to find your way.  We used the Gaia GPS app and this made the hike much easier.  The distance depends on the route you take, but expect to hike at least four miles roundtrip.  

Getting There:  Your adventure begins at the Ruth Lake trailhead on the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway.  Following the trail to Ruth Lake and continue following hiker-made trails to Hayden Lake. From the northwest end of Hayden Lake you will leave the trail and the remainder of the hike will be cross-country.  After this point we didn't encounter any other hikers for the rest of our trip. Immediately to the west is Scout Peak; you will travel to the north of the mountain and hike along the base until you reach Cutthroat Lake.  You will pass several small lakes and marshy areas along the way.  There are some social trails in the area but plan on cross-country hiking most of the way.  The terrain can be challenging close to the mountain; if you're struggling you can find longer but easier routes through the marshy area to the north.

Camping: As you approach the lake you can find a decent camping spot on the east side. You can also follow a path along the north side of the lake to an awesome camping spot on the west end.  There is a fire pit here and excellent views of Hayden Peak to the east.  

Photography:  The east side of the lake is good for sunset and the west side is GREAT for sunrise.  If the wind is calm you can have a lot of fun with reflections.  There is very little light pollution at night so pack a camera and tripod if you're into star photography.  Unfortunately the Milky Way is blocked by Scout Peak to the south.

More Exploring:  There is plenty more to see near Cutthroat Lake.  Teal Lake and Jewel Lake are both a short walk away.  You can also scramble up to Cutthroat Pass (10,700') and access Lofty Lake (10,900').

Note:  You should be very cautious when hiking off-trail in the backcountry.  Do not attempt this adventure without proper equipment, experience, and route-finding abilities. Look at maps ahead of time and familiarize yourself with the area. 

Pack List

  • Backpacking gear
  • GPS
  • Food
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Swimsuit
  • Camera
  • Tripod
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Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Fishing, Hiking, Photography, Swimming

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



4 Miles

Elev. Gain:

280 Feet


Easy Parking

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Added by Eric Harris

Eric is a director/producer, photographer, and adventure addict, in search of beautiful places and incredible people. Currently based in Salt Lake City, Utah. I do my own stunts. | Instagram: danger_cake

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