Posted by: Samantha in Outdoor Activities on February 8th, 2016

Red Castle and Lower Lake

My hiking partner, Steve, and I put in the 20 miles (round trip) to Red Castle’s Lower Lake in the high Uinta’s in one day (October 2015). In order to get an early start at the China Meadows Trailhead we stayed the night before in Laramy, WY. It was still an hour drive to the China Meadows trail head, with about half of it being a well maintained dirt road. While we left the hotel around 6:20 am we didn’t start on the trail till 8:04 AM. The temperature was a cold 32 degrees. It had rained the night before so the ground was damp and we figured the trail would be a bit muddy as well.Snow on the Trail

For this hike I would definitely recommend hiking poles. Steve had them but I didn’t. The trail was rocky and with the rain the night before it was also muddy with water puddles scattered along the trail. Having four points on the ground versus only two allows you to move more quickly and safely through the rougher areas, especially as the miles accumulate and the legs tire.

Total elevation gain over the 10 miles to the lake was only 1,280 feet. We started out with overcast skies and the sun made intermittent appearances throughout the day. A good portion of the hike is within the tree line with the occasional meadow off to the side. Red Castle TrailBecause of the freezing temperatures, the pine and quaky trees had ice on the branches and as the temperature rose above freezing the ice began to melt. In some cases it felt like it was raining because of the constant dripping of melting ice. As our elevation increased, what was rain at lower elevations was snow up here and much of the surrounding area was scattered with flakes of snow. The mountains in the distance were covered. We reached Red Castle Lake in 4 hrs 50 min. Final elevation 11,000 feet. Red Castle was stunning and majestic! It almost looks a little out of place with its red colored rock against the pines and quake’s. We took 20 minutes to eat lunch and admire the view and take a few pictures. It looked like we might be caught in a squall so we did not dally long. In fact, as we headed out it began to snow, a peppercorn type of snow for about a mile before clearing up. The return trip took 4 hrs and 15 minutes, arriving at the trail head at 5:31 pm. Hiking 20 miles in one day definitely builds fortitude! I would say the last three miles were the toughest.

Three things that I carried in I did not need on this hike: a pair of shorts, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

A tremendous day!Red Castle and me