Backpack to Island Lake

Utah Island Lake Trailhead

Added by Rebecca Jones

Island Lake is a great place to take someone who is not an experienced backpacker because the trek is not too hard, the temperatures are cool and the scenery is amazing!

You begin at the Crystal Lake trailhead off of the Mirror Lake Highway. On the way to Island Lake you pass several other lakes including, Crystal Lake and Long Lake. The hike is not too hard but there are several switchbacks at the end to get you up above the ridge where the lake is located. It is a large lake and there is a trail that goes around the entire lake with campsites scattered around- particularly on the side with cliffs. There are also plenty of trees around the lake to hang hammocks from which is what we did.

There is fishing and cliff jumping that can be done here while taking in the beautiful scenery. If you arrive at the destination and if for some reason you decide that you would rather camp at a different lake, there are dozens of others within a few miles. That is one of the amazing things about the Uintas. Even on this relatively busy trail, you can find solitude if you want it- just find a less popular lake.

Pack List

  • Tent or hammock
  • Sleeping bag
  • Food/water
  • Camera
  • Bug spray! (bad mosquitos when were there in July)
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Backpacking, Diving, Fishing, Hiking, Photography, Swimming

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



6 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1000 Feet



Cliff Jumping
Dog Friendly

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How to Get There

3 months ago

Island Lake

Backpacking into island lake is definitely a must do for anyone looking for an awesome, scenic hike with a rewarding place to camp at the end. I did this with 2 of my brothers on 7/27/16. The trail up to island lake, like stated starts at the Crystal Lake trailhead. It passes by a handful of lakes along the way, making the hike very scenic and fun. The hardest part of the hike is at the last .5 miles or so when you hit a few moderately steep switchbacks to get you up over the top to island lake. Other than that, it is fairly flat with a few ups and downs but nothing too strenuous. Island lake has many awesome places to camp at once you get there. There are more designated camp sites if you go to the left of the lake when you get up there, but you can basically camp anywhere. We camped on the north east side of the lake right behind the cliffs. We did cliff jump as well. The highest cliffs seem to be about 50 ft ish. At the time that we went up, it got pretty toasty in the middle of the day so jumping off the cliffs into the lake was an awesome treat to cool off and get some adrenaline pumping. We did not make it to the island, but on the east side of the lake would be the easiest place to cross over and check it out if you wanted to. I'm sure you could also pack your stuff over to camp there as well. There is also a fresh water spring clear up on the north east side of the Meadow that is tucked away behind the lake (on the cliff side). This is great to know about because it makes worrying about having enough water less stressful. We filled up our water bottles and camel backs a few times with the fresh spring water. One day we also went and explored some nearby lakes like duck lake. Overall this is an awesome backpacking trip that isn't too strenuous. You could also just make this an all day trip

3 months ago

3 months ago

An Enjoyable And Rewarding Weekend Trip

I backpacked with a group of my friends to Island Lake late August 2015. It was a relatively easy trail. We arrived at the trailhead pretty late in the evening (we shuttled cars to Smith & Morehouse since we took that trail out.) The parking lot was really full so it was good thing we had our friend to drop us off. It was dark by the time we hit the switchbacks. These switchbacks which are located towards the end of the trail are a bit strenuous but not as bad as many others I've encountered. It was very dark by the time we arrived to the lake. In the morning I was very surprised with how large the lake is. We spent some time cliff jumping which was so fun but very chilly!! We spent one evening summiting Long Peak (11,342) which was just astounding. From the top of Long Peak you see many lakes and ponds the majestic Uintas holds. The cliff jumping spot had a bit of traffic but other than that we really didn't encounter too many other campers or hikers. On our way out we took the Smith & Morehouse trail which was really hot and mostly downhill after you get to the top of the first switchbacks. I don't necessarily recommend going out that way as it was quite longer than we anticipated and not very scenic. You can see a video of us having fun and jumping at Island Lake and a couple others here:

3 months ago

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