Naturalist Basin Trail

MODERATE 16 reviews
#8 of 76 trails in

Naturalist Basin Trail is a 12.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Kamas, Utah that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, fishing, horses, and backpacking and is best used from July until September. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
12.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2119 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

forest

lake

river

views

muddy

rocky

To get to the Naturalist Basin Trail follow the Highline trail for about 4.0 miles to the junction with the Naturalist Basin Trail. Then continue another 1.75 miles to the lake. There are a lot up ups and downs on the Highline trail but mostly descends 400 feet in the first 1.25 miles then mostly climbs 650 feet to the Jordan Lake. There are three other lakes on a bench above Jordan Lake where you will find Shaler, Faxon and LeConte Lakes

backpacking
16 days ago

Beautiful area lots of lakes and lots of bear sign up by morat lakes

hiking
24 days ago

backpacking
1 month ago

After a solid two-day backpacking trip as a complete novice in the field, Highline was a good start as we covered over 16 miles and passed 9 lakes looping back from the Naturalist Basin area. Trail is relatively well-maintained with muddy and marshy patches - ideal to bring waterproof or water-resistant shoes to bypass those.

Lakes spotted listed from start to finish:
Scudder: out of the way and you can see it from the trail but make a roundabout detour to get there, generic campsite

Gatman: viewable from trail but would have to take another detour to get there

Jordan: first big lake accessible a stone's throw away from the Naturalist Basin trail; trail follows all along the lakeshore before gaining elevation again at 10660' zone. Generic campsite/fishing area. Trail is poorly maintained when going up the face of the mountainside with loose dirt and a very steep incline; smaller waterfalls are visible from this zone

Shaler: quiet and more isolated than Jordan Lake, expansive and hosts some campgrounds that are more enclosed by small trees and outcroppings; terrain surrounding it is extremely flat

Faxon Lake: freezing, interesting islands and rock formations, hosts many water boatmen, mosquito larvae and brine shrimp; shallow! It's possible to walk across the lake from one side to the other in sandals but most of the lake bottom is silt that is easily kicked up and acts like quicksand - not recommended

LeConte: trek to LeConte is similar to the rest of the trail, again expansive and features smaller lakes and creeks nearby

Walcott: nothing special. There is a rockslide between LeConte and Walcott so some bouldering is necessary, especially with the positioning of how the rocks fell

Blue: remote campgrounds, water gets deep quickly and there are a number of short cliffside dropoffs along the edge. Two ponds near the northernmost tip of the lake are cool features worth checking out with glacier-like remnants of snowbanks and rocks. Trail overlooks Morat Lakes headed south and is splendid in the morning

Morat Lakes: initial descent is loose shale and crumbled path, had to head down sideways to maintain balance without falling down the entire slope; natural waterfall from Blue Lake visible from the descent (10'> away from path) and final portion passing Morat Lakes is marshy, muddy, easy to trip and fall but shady and well-marked

trail running
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

backpacking
1 month ago

Wowza! Go up to Shaler lake. After hiking five miles on a fairly rocky trail you will be tempted to stop before the last climb, but once you are up there you'll see why it is worth it. To be clear, it is about 7 miles to Shaler lake. The waterfalls off the side of the mountain are phenomenal. The wild flowers are insanely gorgeous and the solitude is unbeatable.

1 month ago

great views

backpacking
Sunday, September 04, 2016

I did it a long while ago when I first got into backpacking & really love it with the access to the scenery from the Mirror Lake Hwy

horseback riding
Monday, August 01, 2016

Have done this trail a few times on horseback. Rocky trail but well worth the climb up into the basin from Highline Trail.

backpacking
Sunday, June 26, 2016

Gorgeous.

hiking
Sunday, July 19, 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Naturalist Basin, with one big caveat, is a phenomenal place to visit. This trail is not busy, it is a highway. It should be called the Highway Trail rather than the Highline. Also, Jordan Lake is probably the least attractive lake in the basin. It also has the distinction of having assigned campsites, something most wilderness users are not used to. The basin is riddled with waterfalls up and east of Jordan, one of the prettiest areas you will ever see. Shaler Lake is right above treeline and provides a unique experience to camp there. (not for the faint of heart during an electrical storm). Blue lake is nice too, nestled under Mt. Agassiz and surrounded by stunted sub-alpine fir stands. It makes a great base camp for a run up Agassiz. Naturalist basin can still provide a great bit of solitude to the backpacker that doesn't mind leaving the trail and seeking out a spot off the beaten path. If sharing Jordan Lake with a few dozen of your closest friends is alright, then have at it.

hiking
Sunday, August 25, 2013

Very good trail from Highline trail-head to Jordan Lake. East to follow but will usually pass a lot of people going both ways depending on when you hike.

camping
Monday, August 19, 2013

This was a fun, albeit busy, trail. If you're ok with scout and/or church groups sharing your space then you'll do just fine here. We did a hike into Jordan after getting lost on our way to Evermann lake. Jordan was super busy, but it was large enough to accommodate the crowd. Evermann is a good option and although there isn't an official trail you can see where people hike to it just off of the Jordan trail before the final ascent. Look closely at the runoff along the trail and you'll see the Evermann path.

camping
Friday, June 28, 2013

This is a highly rated trail. It works great as a fast over nighter or a long day hike with a base camp along the Mirror Lake HWY.
When coming into the basin one is presented with a choice. One cannot go wrong with either choice. It can be made into a loop with a little map work or by following the base of the mountains above the treeline. There are cliff bands between the upper and lower portions of the basin so be wary that you are on the designated trail.
The lower lakes are fisherman's dream & the upper basin the same for photographers to catch early morning or late afternoon light.