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Lower Red Castle Lake via East Fork Smiths Fork

MODERATE 183 reviews
#4 of 90 trails in

Lower Red Castle Lake via East Fork Smiths Fork is a 19.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Altamont, 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

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

bird watching

running

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.

Great trail but got really cold at night. Thermometer said below 20 degrees.

hiking
21 days ago

LONG and flat mostly. Gorgeous wide draw dotted with meadows on way up. Red castle and lake are stunning and saw a moose. Surprised did not see more animals. Freezing at night. I actually also went all the way up eastfork over all the way to summit Kings Peak. Came out to be ~46miles but awesome. Not a single other soul from redcastle to Kings. That valley west of Kings felt like a huge open tundra and easy to navigate trails up to summit. Again, just LONG. Plenty of water all over to filter from (however my sawyer, katadyne, and platypus all froze solid at night (even thought packed deep)

This hike is awesome! As others have stated the trail is rocky so trying to run it wasn’t successful as you’d run 10 yards and have to stop if you didn’t want a rolled ankle. It was muddy in spots but totally doable to walk around. Zero snow on trail (9/21/19) just iced over mud puddles in a few spots. Did it as a day hike and took 7hr20min. Bring numerous layers as I felt I was constantly chilly-warm-freezing and repeat. Bonus: no bugs!!!

Park at the lower trailhead, not the campgrounds. The directions may take you only to the campgrounds above the trail, keep going and park in lower area. The first part of the trail is a cattle grazing area. Be sure to close gates that you go through so cows can't get in/out. The trail gets more scenic as you go. It is very rocky as mentioned in other reviews. Watch you feet and take time to stop before you look up:) I did not make it all the way to the lakes as I was only day hiking. This area is much better enjoyed in a multi day backpacking trip. You can also take a side trip to Hessie lake - time permitting.

Conditions were great, views start to get outrageous at mile 7. Definitely trafficked for a backpacking destination but secluded campsites are easy to find.

Great backpacking trail.

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

Hiking the trail to Lower Red Castle is a long one, but overall it’s just a slow gradual incline. Because this is a 25 mile round trip hike, it’s nice to know that you are always near a water source for drinking water. You do need to filter your water! A river is always near the trailhead. It’s best to take a minimum of 3 days to hike, explore and enjoy the amazing scenery up this canyon. Beautiful lakes, and towering mountain peaks are just a few of the highlights up this particular trail. The fishing is really great up here and the trout are quite large as well. Bring your camera and be prepared for the mosquitoes.

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing scenery. This is a long hike and a very rocky trail. The payoff is well worth the effort to get there. I would go mid week if you possibly can. I hooked out on Friday and passed dozens of groups headed up. The mosquitos weren't too bad, but typical for the Uintas.

hiking
bugs
muddy
2 months ago

backpacking
bugs
muddy
rocky
2 months ago

This is my first time Backpacking. It was such an amazing trail. Very moderate. I’m not in the best of shape and a few in our group were in even less physical condition than I was and we made it. It was very rainy while we were there but very enjoyable. Some of the views that were there were astonishing. I will definitely be finding others like this again. The water from the stream was nice and cold and tasted amazing.

hiking
bugs
2 months ago

great trail for moderate backpackers. bugs were moderate as long as you have wind and fire. lots of people on the weekend.

backpacking
bugs
muddy
2 months ago

Great Hike. Pretty muddy at times but nothing you can't navigate around. River crossings weren't much of an issue so long as you are careful. Hiking poles would have helped. Bugs were pretty bad but I managed to get out with only a few bites. Definitely treat your clothes and gear with permethrin, it helps a lot. Overall a great hike with insane views at the end. Only hard part is the length.

hiking
2 months ago

Stunning destination! Fishing at Lower Red Castle Lake was good. Hike doesn't have a lot of elevation gain and isn't too strenuous. Hiked in in about 5 hours and out in about 4. August 8-10, 2019. Mosquitos were present but not overwhelming. Just bring bug spray, long sleeves and pants and they aren't a problem. Parking at China Meadows trailhead is $3 per night so bring cash. Also, campsites at China Meadows are $16 per night if you plan on staying there before or after you hike Red Castle. Gem of the Uintas! Highly recommend!

hiking
bugs
muddy
2 months ago

backpacking
bugs
muddy
2 months ago

I LOVE THIS HIKE!! This is seriously my new favorite place. It was so beautiful. Lots of meadows and trees. Red Castle itself is unreal and stands out super well amongst the other mountains around it. We dropped our packs in a site at the lower lake and hiked up to the upper really quick and it was so worth the extra few miles. I can't even describe how amazing it is there. There were bugs, but we planned ahead and sprayed all of our hiking clothes down with Permethrin and then right before stating the hike, we sprayed ourselves with Deet. We also brought mosquito nets just in case, but didn't need to use them because our preparedness kept the bugs at bay. I normally get eaten alive, but this time I walked out without any bug bites! As you get closer to the lake it gets pretty muddy, so be prepared for that. There were also some big-ish river crossings. Trekking poles can help with that. We did this in 2 days. 15 miles in (including the upper lake visit) and 10 miles out. Super flat, with only a few easy switch backs. This is a great beginners trip, for those that can do the mileage. Our bodies weren't sore by the end, but our feet sure were tired!

backpacking
bugs
muddy
2 months ago

Amazing hike! Red castle is a site to see. It glows at sunset! Spent the night at lower red castle lake. The trail was not bad at all. Really easy to follow. A few small river crossings but really easy stuff. The mosquitoes were no joke. Swarms. Don't breathe too heavy or you'll probably suck a couple of those suckers in. A powerful bug spray really helped. Basically kept it by my side the whole trip! Great hike, great views, would recommend!

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