Red Castle Lakes Trail is a 27.5 mile out and back trail located near Mountain View, Utah that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. 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.
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.
If you begin at the trail head and hike to the Lower Red Castle Lake it is only 9 miles in. From there the trail splits you can either head to the East Red Castle Lake up or to Red Castle and Upper Red Castle Lakes. The hike is beautiful and follows a massive meadow most of the way. If you hike in the evening or morning you are very likely to see moose and deer. I also saw lots of elk sign in the lower areas.
Great fun. Hard hike for a pack of 12 and 13 but worth it.
This was my first legit backpacking trail, and it was a worthy one. Like most any destination, pictures do Red Castle no justice. But the name does. The mountain rises almost vertically from the surrounding valley, and is flanked by features that are impressive in their own right. Settling at the base after the long hike into high altitude is a reward typical of Sister Utah's legendary landscape.
This relatively inexperienced hiker found the trail very doable, if tough, for a three day trip, two days of hiking. The trail itself is a very gentle climb until the last climb to Red Castle base. If you've been going all day, this last climb can drain you quick. The destination had many campers and firewood was scarce. The Upper Red Castle Lake is a quick climb into the alpine zone, but one that left me pretty wrecked after day one. Nighttime this high up can get pretty cold but days are temperate. Water always accessible, so keep the filter on hand and shed the extra backpack weight. Bring your fishing rod for these healthy lakes and mountain streams. Needless to say, be prepared for war with the insect kingdom in the summer months.
Overall, the hike will be no challenge to experienced hikers, but offers the scenic payoff to make it worth seeking out this relatively remote destination. I would highly recommend it to hiking newcomers, who will receive the joys of a taxing foray into a very special place.
This trail being rated easy is true but be aware of altitude, it can sneak up on you and you can become winded if your not use to it. With that said, I have hiked all over the South West mountain ranges and the Uinta range is certainly a hidden gem! Absolutely beautiful at every step taken.
Took a church youth group up to Red Castle! What an amazing place. When you get to the foot bridge and can finally see Red Castle in the distance it is very inspiring, and gives more motivation to make it to the top! The hike does not have any big inclines (expect the small switch backs) but you are constantly on a gradual incline. I will be doing this hike again.
I did Red Castle back in September of 2015. It was one of the best experiences of my life. It was about 31 miles for us round trip. We made base camp at the lower lake then day tripped up to the upper lakes. We did it in 2.5 days and it was so worth it. I keep wanting to take another trip up there! It was so beautiful! And the trail really isn't too hard. Just one spot that switchbacks up on your way in that got a little difficult but was still great. Not too many people were up there. We saw some forest rangers working on some of the trail and they were very nice and friendly. The fishing was great at the upper lakes too!!
The hiking is not too difficult, only slight inclines, and one short switchback . The length is the only difficult part of this hike. Navigation is easy, water is accessible regularly. Not a whole lot to see until you get to the river crossing where Red Castle becomes visible. Amazing sunsets with Red Castle lit up with the Alpenglow. Lower RC lake glimmers, and fish rising all over the lake. I recommend passing Lower RC lake a short ways, and setting up camp there.
Day trip it to Red Castle lake for some good size fishing and amazing views. Also day trip it to East RC lake, for a different view and good fishing as well. Lower RC has plenty of pan size trout.
I have been here on several occasions, and will return again for another. It can be done in 3 days or more if you want to spend some down time. Fairly quick and easy TH access from the Salt Lake City area.
I am conflicted on what to rate this hike. The actual hike to Lower Red Castle Lake was nothing impressive. The destination was stunning and off the charts. Incredible views of the lake, forest, river and Castle. I didn't even go to Upper or the East Castle lakes. Just another reason to get up there again!
The first few miles of the hike is filled with dead pines and live ones mixed. This part of the hike is spent almost entirely just off to the side of a meadow in the pines. It's a so so hike for the first 8 miles or so, basically until you can see the Red Castle. Once Red Castle is in view the hike is 5+ star.
Like some of the other northern basins in the Uintas, there is horse traffic. That’s a turnoff for some people but I actually like that they have such a beautiful place to freely take their horses.
There is plenty of camp areas available around the lake, and there are plenty of fish. I didn’t fish myself but noticed many of them just off shore as I circled the lake. There is also a lot of evidence of wildlife activity up there. I saw evidence of what I believed was moose, deer, and bear as others have also mentioned seeing here. Have the bear spray handy just in case.
I would not consider this hike ‘easy’ as some others have. I would say as a whole it is moderate to strenuous. There is no one part that is very strenuous but the constant gradual climb and switch backs at the end take a toll. But it is most definitely worth the hike. Amazing place to experience.
This was a great hike with some amazing vistas. I was up there for five days with rain each day and some high night winds. The fishing at the three upper lakes was an easy catch with enough to feed each of dinners. The trails were ok with some very washed out and muddy. Night temps were cold enough for thermal underwear, 30 degree bags and beanies. Lots of nature around with moose and deer visible and evidence of bear and cat on all the trails. Overall this was great hike!
The trail is an easy 10 mile hike from near China Meadows Campground to Lower Red Castle Lake. The best campsites are on the East side of the lake away from the trail. The trail travels west of the lake past many established camps. If you want privacy and a good supply of firewood cross the footbridge about a quarter mile North of the footbridge and head up to the east side of the lake.
The trail sees a lot of traffic as it is frequented by horse parties and part of it overlaps the Highline Trail. In recent years the bark beetles haves ravaged many of the trees. Luckily the forests are still somewhat healthy near Red Castle lake.
If you have time think of climbing the unnamed pass south-west of Upper Red Castle Lake, then head up the north ridge for excellent views of all the lakes as well as Kings Peak to the East.
Nice easy hike up to Lower Red Castle then climbs to Red Castle. Planned on camping on Red Castle but it was above timberline. Fished for a while then returned back down to the trees between the two lakes. Went back and fished the next day and climbed to Upper Red Castle. Best view of the basin is from Upper Red Castle Lake.
We went mid june right after a light snow fall, so a lot of animals came down to greet us as we were hiking up and we were the only ones up there. We saw elk (a whole herd) and moose (baby and mother). We also saw bear tracks in the snow. We were the only hikers up there that weekend (at least that we saw). In the summer it is much more popular. The lower lake was 1/2 frozen and the upper lake was completely frozen). We had a great camp near the lower lake.
Great hike. My wife and I did this in August 2010. Be prepared for all weather extremes.