Hike to Ruth Lake in the High Uintas Wilderness

Rate this Adventure Ruth Lake Trailhead, Oakley, Utah, United States

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    2 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    300 Feet

Family Friendly

A short, easy hike to a beautiful alpine lake in the high Uintas.

The Uintas are a high elevation, pristine mountain wilderness located in Utah. This range receives over 400 inches of precipitation annually, and you can find water everywhere.  There are 400+ miles of streams, waterfalls, and more than 2,000 lakes!  One of the prettiest and most accessible of these lakes is Ruth Lake.   

The trailhead is located just off of the Mirror Lake Highway (State Road 150) on the west side of the road, about 35 miles from Kamas, or 42 miles from Evanston, Wyoming.  There is a fee to access the Mirror Lake Highway, but it is reasonable ($6 for three days).  You can get your pass at the ranger's station in Kamas, or at self-serve stations along the road.  Use of the highway is free if you have an Interagency Annual Pass. Get one here.

The Uintas receive a lot of snow annually, and the highway does not open each year until at least Memorial Day.  There is usually quite a bit of snow on the trails until late June.  July is full of wildflowers and also mosquitoes!  They can be relentless this time of year so bug spray is a must!  Once early August hits the mosquitoes are greatly diminished, and I would recommend this month, as well as September as the best time to hike this trail.  It is a popular trail for good reason, but crowds can be avoided by starting early, hiking in the evening, or going on a weekday.  It rains almost daily in the Uintas, and nighttime temperatures can get down into the 30's and 40's even in summer.  It's important to be prepared for pop-up storms with the proper rain and camping gear, and with warm clothing if camping overnight.  

This hike is great for small children, families, beginning backpackers, and anyone wanting to experience the beauty of a high alpine wilderness in a short period of time.  The trail begins at 10,000 feet and climbs gradually, gaining less than 300 ft of elevation in less than a mile.  The trail is well maintained, and there are wonderful interpretive signs along the way that describe what life is like for plants and animals living in a high altitude ecosystem, and the adaptations they must make.  Great information for everyone, especially children.  Along the way, you travel through forest and mountain meadows, with streams, ponds, and wildflowers.  The air is crisp, clear, and filled with the smell of pine.  This is also a popular destination for rock climbing.  There is a large pond just before the lake that many people think is the end of their destination, but make sure to continue until you see the sign that says "Ruth Lake."  Once at the lake you can fish and take in the beautiful reflections and mountain scenery, with a great view of Hayden Peak to the East.  If you want to add to your hike, you can walk around the lake or continue on to other lakes in the area.  This trail also connects with the Lofty Lake Loop trail.  If hiking around the lake, it will be about 2.4 miles round trip.  

Please make sure to practice the principles of Leave No Trace if camping here, and allow at least 200 feet from the lake to set up your campsite.   

Pack List

  • Insect Repellent
  • Rain Gear
  • Camera
  • Snacks
  • Camping equipment and warm clothing if staying overnight
  • Fishing Pole
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Michelle Olmstead Explorer

Photographer, Biologist, Mom, and Wife from Salt Lake City, Utah. Wildlife and wilderness advocate. I enjoy running, hiking, cycling, camping, backpacking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Instagram @findmeonthemountain Email: findmeonthemountain@gmail.com

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