Mount Watson

Elevation: 11,521
Location: Uinta Range, Utah

If you're looking for an easy hike to an uncrowded but scenic hike in the Uintas, look no further than Mount Watson. To get there take Highway 150 to Trial Lake, just a little before the Mirror Lake area if coming from the south. From here, you'll need to find the trailhead for Clyde Lake. From Salt Lake this hike took us only about six hours, including driving time.

Alpine lake and Mt. Watson along the trail to Clyde Lake The hike starts by following the gentle trail up towards Clyde Lake. Along the way you'll pass numerous small lakes and streams. Mount Watson will be obvious from the parking lot, and even more obvious to the west while hiking along the trail. Guidebooks show ascending the southeast ridge, but the topographic map made the northeast ridge look more gentle, so we took that approach. We hiked up to a point where we could pretty clearly see our route through the now-thinning pine trees.

We ascended the hillsides which soon turned to mostly rock. The climbing was steep but easy as many of the rock sections are almost like stairs in their formation. We reached the ridge around 11,250 feet quickly. As is typical in the Uintas, clouds were building and we were in no mood to get caught on a mountain even this small in a thunderstorm. We were quick to get up the boulders, not easy, being careful not to get an ankle rolled over. The views back down to the lake-filled area we had came up from were outstanding. Across the valley we could clearly identify Bald Mountain and Reids Peak. To the northwest we could see Notch Mountain and the trail running through the "notch". We were brief and we started back down the loose rocks. Once back on the more solid stairway rocks, it was much easier going.

View from near Watson summit, Bald Mountain visible on far right We had only a light drizzle of rain, and then it was beginning to clear when we got back to our car. The total hike was about six miles roundtrip, but only climbed 1,700 feet. I think I enjoyed this hike more than nearby Bald Mountain (equally easy, if not easier). We did the hike in August as the Uintas usually stay quite snow-covered well into the summertime. There is now a small fee station on highway 150 when you go into this area of the Uintas (about three dollars), so be prepared for that. If you're not in the mood for the off-trail climb to the peak, the hike up to Clyde Lake is very scenic and can be extended for quite some distance.