Lower Red Castle Lake via E Fork Smiths Fork is a 19.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Mountain View, Utah that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
19.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,437 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

birding

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

bugs

Take Wyoming State Highway 410 South out of Mountain View about 8 miles. Where the highway makes a sharp right turn to the west go straight on to Uinta County Road 283 (gravel) and continue to Forest Service Road 072. Follow the signs past the Stateline Campground and past the China Meadows Campground to the China Meadows trailhead.

2 months ago

Went in on September 28. Really windy. Great spot at the lower lake. Didn’t see the bear, but at 6 pm Saturday night a forest fire to west threatened to blow in. Got the heck out through smoke and darkness. Check the fire conditions before you go!

hiking
2 months ago

What an amazing hike! We had a late start and set up camp the fist night at about 5pm. We found a great area at about 300ft from the trail. on day two we reached Lower Red Lake. it was beautil. we set up camp the second night just by the lake at about 400ft from the trail. After we had fallen asleep, we woke up to a bear circling our tent, ended up leaving maybe after half hour. Talking about being scared!! we had our food on a bear proof container and inside a smell prood bag away from the tent. the scenary on this trail is breathtaking. the switchbacks are long so it makes the elevation gain easy. the hike was overall challenging for us (we come from.florida). def will do it again.

2 months ago

This hike is rated as moderate, but it was very easy. There is hardly any elevation gain and the switchbacks are long making what little you have to gain a breeze. Plenty of water along the trail to filter, or for your dog to drink. As noted by the previous review, lower red castle lake is picturesque but definitely not pristine. We camped in the site with the heart shaped rock. It was nice until we noticed all the human waste that was not properly buried. We had set up our tent not realizing till the next morning how close it was to utter grossness. Leave no trace is important. If your not sure what this requires look it up and please respect our wilderness.

backpacking
2 months ago

Scenery and setting are truly spectacular. Really a photogenic place. But you’ve gotta embrace the poop smeared toilet paper fluttering in the wind, fire rings...everywhere, footpaths through delicate alpine meadows...and dogs barking at sunrise. Pristine? Not so much. Leave no trace? What’s that?

2 months ago

Awesome hike. Beautiful scenery. But the fire in Spanish fork canyon smoked me and several other groups out. We left before our original departure date because it was raining ash. Fire is over 100 miles away.

backpacking
3 months ago

Spent three days. Hiked toward the end of lower lake ~10 miles in about 5.5 hours. Lots of horses and horse dung. Don’t fret if you don’t find camping before the end of lower lake. There are a few spots in the woods past it as well as on the opposite side of the lake. Labor day weekend had tons of other people. By the time we hiked out sunday, the parking lot was overflowing with cars. Lows were about 30-35. One person claimed their thermometer said 28. Very rocky at some points in the trail. I’m not currently in running shape but I wouldnt deem it a difficult hike. There are only a few times that really feel like you’re hiking up. Upper red is worth the extra couple miles. Saw over half of a dozen moose.

backpacking
3 months ago

Went over labor day so it was super busy. Still got a decent spot tho. Temps get low enough for frost and the lake to start icing so pack warm clothes. Overall a challenging backpack but with a killer payoff!!!

backpacking
3 months ago

Beautiful place! Pack warm clothes. Can’t wait to return again!

3 months ago

One of the best hikes in Utah, or anywhere that I have ever been.

hiking
4 months ago

Best destination in the Uintas! However, the hike is tough, even though it's relatively flat. There are so many rocks on the trail that it limits your speed and requires you to look where you place every step. Give yourself at least a day to rest and explore before heading back.

4 months ago

Since my wife read the book “Return to Red Castle” about 35 years ago, this has been on her bucket list. Finally got in shape and did it this year. She’s 59 and I am 61. It was a fabulous hike over three days. Went with two of our kids and their spouses, and had a fabulous time. The trail is long but beautiful and very doable for just about anybody. With all of our extra hiking, we went about 36 miles. We did it from Wednesday to Friday. Saw very few people. On the hike down we came across about 40 to 50 people in small groups going up. The weekend looks to be quite busy. Huge, vast area that can accommodate a lot of campers and hikers. Lots of options and directions to go once you get there. Saw a cow moose on the lower half of the trail, and then three Bull moose hanging around Lower Red Castle and the meadows. Fishing was poor, we think due to a lot of pressure in both of the main lakes. We did see a lot of fish swimming around, that weren’t very interested in what we had to offer (flies). That was alright though, because there is so much incredible beauty to explore around there. Pictures don’t do it justice! Be sure to take bug spray and sunscreen. That’s a given for anywhere in the Uintas. A few blisters in our group, a little bit of altitude sickness for a couple of us for just a couple hours, and my wife tripped on the trail and kissed a boulder with her forehead, got a nice cut above her eye and bruises, and a blackeye, but with a little doctoring everything was back to normal. No way was she giving up after all these years of wanting to go there so badly. Loved every bit of it! Will probably be going back.

backpacking
4 months ago

Unbelievable! Gorgeous views and perfect camping. The first night of our trip we camped at China Meadows and spotted three bull moose. One of which was of trophy size. The hike was pleasant with a gradual incline. The switchbacks were a little difficult but do not last long. Mosquitos were virtually nonexistent and we spent the day enjoying leisure time at Lower Red Castle Lake. We were lucky enough to witness a brilliant thunder storm our first night there. Truly ear splitting booms echoed across the drainage as lightning struck the mountainside. Be ready for quick changes in weather. This is the High Uintas.

On our way to explore Red Castle Lake, we ran into a cow moose. I would suggest taking a day hike to the south side of Red Castle. The views are spectacular from Red Castle Lake and Upper Red Castle Lake. Life truly is different above the tree line. This hike is a little steep but not too difficult without a pack. Bring a good camera and wait until the sun is setting to get magnificent lighting of the red rock. You will walk away with gorgeous photos. This area is so serene and beautiful. If possible, try to go early in the week. The crowds die down on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I would do this again in a second.

backpacking
4 months ago

It rokkkkkks

backpacking
4 months ago

This hike is worth the pain to see the red castle and the upper lake views. Like most people have said the switch backs do hit you hard being that they are at the end of the hike. My hiking partner and I just took it slower when we hit them and we made it up just plan a little extra time and you will be fine. There is a bridge with a good running water right before the switch backs its good spot to take a break and get some water if you need it. Once you get up you find a fork in the trail with a sign I will tell you to go left it will take you closer to the lower lake and more camp sites. I will also tell you the all trails says it is 9.7 that is to the north side of the lake and you will need to keep walking to find any place to make camp. We camped at the south end of the lower lake and it was more like 10.4 miles at least that’s what both of our GPS’s showed. We hiked up to the upper lake and the water was clear and you could see the fish about 20 off shore. We only fished the lower lake we only get one fish but did see people pulling them in all around us. If you have time you will need to get over to the water fall it was spectacular. If you have not read by now the mosquitoes are in force up there right now. Being that there were some many people up there we didn’t think we would see much wild life but we did get to see a moose on the way down. I was a great hike and a good start to getting back in to backpacking. We did a 3 day set I would recommend this be the shortest time you do this hike a 4 or 5 day would be better. If you are debating if you should do the hikes don’t just do it. Just a reminder people if you are hiking with a group stick together and have a plan. We were asked more than a few times if we had seen someones group and if we knew where they were. Unfortunately my hiking partner and I didn’t get the memo that we were the mountain babysitters.

backpacking
4 months ago

I’m too old and fat for this hike. 80 lbs overweight and a 50 lb pack was too much. Hike was not steep but very long. The switchbacks were steep and after the switchbacks it was still tough. Beautiful scenery. Red Castle Mountain was spectacular. Lakes were beautiful as well but the hike was too long for me. Tons of flies and mosquitoes. River views were nice as well. Saw a moose also. We did this hike Thursday through Saturday. Not enough time to do this many miles.

Super fun moderate hike. Water is plenty considering the river runs along most of the trail. The forest ranger had us move our campsite about twenty feet. He said every campsite needs to be "70 paces" from the lake. Also, fires need to be 1/4 mile from the lake. Stunning landscape and view as you ascend the trail towards the towering red castle. We saw three moose and a bald eagle.

backpacking
5 months ago

This hike is amazing. The trail follows a stream the entire way, easy to navigate, and pretty flat until reaching the last 1.5 miles of switch backs. I calculated 23 miles round trip, so 11.5 miles each way. The lake is pretty shallow and my friend got leeches on her feet, so watch out for those if you get in. Camping spaces and water are plentiful. I took the China Meadows trail that starts here Forest Rd 186, Evanston, UT 82930. Happy trails!

backpacking
5 months ago

Great trip with 11-13 year old scouts. This was our second year in a row coming here. We took three days for this trip. Backpacked to the lower lake of red castle and set up camp. Next day went fishing and played around. Fishing was great in the morning. Caught Brooke trout and Tiger trout both on spinner rods and fly fishing rods. Due to wind fishing was best on the West side of the lake. Didn’t make it up to the upper lake though but heard fish are bigger up there. Hiked 5 miles back and set up camp along the river. Last day fished and hiked back to the trailhead. Mosquitos were bad until you used repellent. Needed to reapply every four hours or so. Stars were amazing! No snow. Bring sunscreen. Nights were decent, not freezing. Afternoons were very warm.

5 months ago

Amazing place. Would be 5/5 but the mosquitos are still in full force as of 6/26/18. Mildly muddy. Still patches of snow around the upper red castle lake but the lake is thawed. Nights still chilly. Actually had a few snow flakes in the morning as we were heading out.

5 months ago

Did this a few days ago. Decent amount of mud but nothing crazy. Mosquitoes were decently bad in the trees. We camped in the open above the lake and it was super windy so mosquitoes weren’t a problem for us. Hiked to the upper lake and crossed one small snowfield but the upper lake was 90% ice. Caught 5 brook trout in the lower lake.

backpacking
5 months ago

Gorgeous hike! Even spotted a moose on the trail not far from the lake. Expect lots of mud, multiple river crossings and TONS of rocks. The drive into the trailhead can be pretty rough also. There was still some snow on the trail 06/10/18 but wasn’t an issue at all. Trailhead had toilets available, no trash cans.

6 months ago

We did this hike in early June. I was worried it would be too cold but it wasn't too bad. There was A LOT of snow melt which resulted in muddy trails. There were plenty of rocks to step on to try to avoid getting muddy. We backpacked in and stayed the night at the lower lake. Red Castle was absolutely beautiful and worth the long hike. This was my first backpacking experience and it was a good one!

9 months ago

The red castle really is worth all the hype. The trail is pretty level and never steep, but the trail surface was trash from all the horse traffic, and really wore my feet out, so wear good shoes. There were moose along the lake. When we went the last weekend in August, it rained for a little bit but it was fine. There were also about a couple hundred sheep being run late at night from east red castle down the valley so that was... interesting. You’ll also pass lots of cows on your way there and the trail appears to be more popular with horse packers than backpackers. So it was more like the High Uintas Farm than a wilderness... still worth it to camp under the red castle.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

We had a great time, hiked the entire trail to the lower lake in one day. Camped the night before at China Meadows. Left at 5 am and returned by 2pm. Didn't hike hard and stopped a plenty. Beautiful lake and Red Castle Mt is awesome!! A MUST-DO!

backpacking
Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Just did this as a two night backpack over Labor Day weekend. It was stunning! And there are no more mosquitoes!!! I never had to use bug spray once. It also never rained! It is a long 10 mile hike in, but there's so little elevation gain it feels almost flat. There were a lot of groups camping, but everyone was very friendly and I enjoyed talking to great new people. Spent the second day going up to the upper lake for lunch. We sunned on the rock, dipped our feet in, and even swam for a second. We woke up to five moose in our campsite the second morning! I will never forget this incredible experience.

backpacking
Sunday, August 27, 2017

Stuff to think about on this trip:
Bug spray, sunscreen, waterproof shoes, woods stay pretty damp, hiking in some muddy spots, mushrooms, fishing pole, camera, basic survival kit.

This hike will take from 7-9hrs. in. I would suggest camping before the Upper Red Castle Lake. May be wise to bring rain gear if you don't typically pack it. It's worth the hike just to cleanse the soul.
Just go with it. It's good for you. You'll not have cell service.

backpacking
Saturday, August 19, 2017

Not a very difficult hike. Although you will find that most of the trail is mud as it's a heavily used equestrian trail. Dog friendly. Look for moose in the meadows! Mosquitos are plentiful. Trails seems busy on weekends.. We backpacked in and stayed two nights at Lower Red Castle Lake. Took a day hike to Red Castle Lake as it's only about two miles past Lower Red Castle Lake. Very scenic and peaceful place. Worth every mile!

backpacking
Monday, August 14, 2017

This trail is the most beautiful trail I've ever hiked. Also the longest and I read some of these reviews saying it's too hard and what not.. well by the time I got to the lower lake I had been up for a total of 26 hours from working and then driving 2.5 hours and then taking the 6 hours it took me to get to the lower lake and although strenuous. It's not at all difficult. It's super muddy and it hailed on us everyday so be prepared. The upper castle lake doesn't provide much to look at but when you're up there looking out over the land and you can see red castle and the lower lake it's worth the hour hike over the boulders to the west of the red castle lake.

backpacking
Monday, August 14, 2017

I've been making the trek to RedCastle for 27 years... it's never disappointing! I chose 4 stars because of the current condition of the trail... it's muddy and wet up there, lots of damage to navigate from horse packing, if you are on a horse 5 stars.
The fishing was great at the middle lake, nailed the tigers and cuts. Use black and yellow jigs, wooly buggers.
Campers need to be more tidy and clean.. came across a few spots where human waste or trash was noticable... bark beetles have wreaked havoc on about 80 percent of the lower pines.. but up above the switch backs ... the pines are pretty healthy. Such a beautiful place to visit and come back to!

backpacking
Monday, July 24, 2017

Trail conditions were okay. Tons of horseback riders; makeing the trail really muddy at some points. Lots of mosquitoes. We spent a few days there and camped at a different place each night. Most camps had trash. Fishing was amazing. Day hikes were fun. Sunsets and weather conditions were good. Rained daily for about an hour in the evenings. Would definitely recommend.

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