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Gilbert Creek (Whiterocks Variation)
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Gilbert Creek (Whiterocks Variation)

 
Gilbert Creek (Whiterocks Variation)

Page Type: Route

Location: Utah, United States, North America

Object Title: Gilbert Creek (Whiterocks Variation)

Route Type: Hiking, Scrambling

Season: Summer

Time Required: A few days

Difficulty: Class 2+

Route Quality: 
 - 1 Votes
 

 

Page By: Scott

Created/Edited: May 23, 2006 / May 23, 2006

Object ID: 195786

Hits: 2403 

Page Score: 72.08%  - 2 Votes 

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Overview

This is my favorite route up Gilbert Peak. The south slope routes are much longer than the routes from Henry's Fork on the north slope. The round-trip distance for this particular route is about 42 miles round trip, roughly double that of the Dollar Lake/West Spur or North Ridge routes.

The south slopes of the Uintas are not as rugged as the north slopes, and the mountains are more rounded, and there are fewer rugged cirque basins. On the plus side, the flower meadows along this route are amoung the largest I've ever seen and there are many large lakes (by Rocky Mountain standards). Several of the lakes along the route are close to 100 acres in size and all are surrounded by wildflowers. Great campsites are plentiful and you are assured solitude along Gilbert Creek.

The last part of the route along Gilbert Creek is one of the more enjoyable hikes in the Uintas. The trail marked on some maps has faded away long ago, but hiking up the gentle valley through miles of wildflowers in complete solitude is an experience to be savored. The Gilbert Creek drainage is rather marshy in places and is laced with several lakes, most small, and a few larger ones. Both the creek and the upper most lake "Gilbert Creek Lake" are just full of trout. No one seems to visit the basin despite the great scenery, and the main reason is that it is a long way from no-where and it is about 40 miles round trip to Gilbert Creek Lake from any route.

Besides Gilbert Peak there are many other peaks, lakes, and basins to explore along the way. It is easy to spend several weeks ont this route while exploring the area.
I am just experimenting with...
Gilbert Creek Route

Overview Maps

 
The Gilbert Creek Route...
 
 
 Gilbert Creek Route...
 

Getting There

There are several driving routes to the trailhead, but this is the quickest. A good road map is needed. From Roosevelt, take State Highway 121 north. This is where the elbow in Highway 40 is, right downtown, so the turnoff is easy to locate. Stay on Highway 121 north, follow it as is makes a sharp turn at Neola and heads due east. The highway will reach a "T" and turn south. At the "T", turn left (north) to the town of Whiterocks. From Whiterocks, drive northwest along the paved road. Not long after passing the fish hatchery, will be another junction. Go straight (not left). The road heads north, then east, then north again. At the next intersection, go straight and to the Elkhorn Guard Station. Continue straight on the Elkhorn Loop Road, up Pole Mountain, and to Forest Road 110 before heading to Pole Creek Lake. Don't take the Elkhorn Loop to Pole Creek Lake, but turn right onto Forest Road 110. If you reach Pole Creek Lake, you overshot the turnoff. Follow Forest Road 110 north for about four miles to the signed (for West Fork Whiterocks Trailhead) turnoff to the left. Turn left to the trailhead. Most of the Elkhorn Loop as well as Forest Road 110 is gravel, but usually in good condition for cars, provided you drive slowly.
Along the ridge on the West...
Along the ridge on the West Fork Whiterocks route. Gilbert Peak is to the left and far away.

Route Description

This is my favorite route up Gilbert Peak. The south slope routes are much longer than the routes from Henry's Fork on the north slope. The round-trip distance for this particular route is about 42 miles round trip, roughly double that of the Dollar Lake/West Spur or North Ridge routes.

The south slopes of the Uintas are not as rugged as the north slopes, and the mountains are more rounded, and there are fewer rugged cirque basins. On the plus side, the flower meadows along this route are amoung the largest I've ever seen and there are many large lakes (by Rocky Mountain standards). Several of the lakes along the route are close to 100 acres in size and all are surrounded by wildflowers. Great campsites are plentiful and you are assured solitude along Gilbert Creek. The last part of the route along Gilbert Creek is one of the more enjoyable hikes in the Uintas. The trail marked on some maps has faded away long ago, but hiking up the gentle valley through miles of wildflowers in complete solitude is an experience to be savored. The Gilbert Creek drainage is rather marshy in places and is laced with several lakes, most small, and a few larger ones. Both the creek and the upper most lake "Gilbert Creek Lake" are just full of trout. No one seems to visit the basin despite the great scenery. The main reason is that it is a long way from no-where and it is about 40 miles round trip to Gilbert Creek Lake from any route. Besides Gilbert Peak there are many other peaks, lakes, and basins to explore along the way. It is easy to spend several weeks ont this route while exploring the area.

The route begins at the Whiterocks Trailhead, follows the trail north to Cleveland Lake, over Fox-Quent Pass, down to Cresent and Fox Lakes, where the route meets the Highline Trail, then follows the Highline Trail over to Kidney Lakes, then further west to Gilbert Creek near Milk Lake, up Gilbert Creek to the south slopes of Gilbert, then to the summit. Whew, that was a long sentence! Now on with the route description.

From the trailhead, follow the well-used trail along Whiterocks Creek. There are a few short up and downs, but the trail is mostly an easy stroll to beautiful Cleveland Lake which is four miles from the trailhead. At Cleveland Lake, there is a junction. The trail to the right goes to Quent Lake and then north to Taylor Lake. Stay straight along the trail that follows the shore of Cleveland Lake. From Cleveland Lake, the trail gains altitude slowly before climbing steeply to Fox-Quent Pass. The pass is 6.5 miles from the trailhead and has absolutely stunning views of the Upper Uinta River Basin as well as the Whiterocks Drainage. From Fox-Quent Pass Pass, the trail drops down to Cresent and Fox Lakes. Fox Lake is 8 miles from the trailhead. Both lakes are in a beautiful setting. Cresent Lake seems to have the best fishing. The route meets up with the Highline Trail at Fox Lake.

Follow the Highline Trail west to Kidney Lakes. Always stay on the Highline Trail and avoid the side trails to Davis Lakes, Uinta River, etc. Along the way the trail will pass through huge and spectacular wildflower meadows, which are amoung the largest meadows I've ever seen. Kidney Lakes are in a nice setting and a great place to hang around. They have great fishing as well. The lakes are another 5 miles from Fox Lake.

After Kidney Lakes, the Highline Trail becomes less used. The trail drops into the timber for most of the way before reaching Gilbert Creek. This is where the Highline Trail once again begins a steep climb to Painter Basin and just before Milk Lake (not visible from the trail). You will leave the Highline Trail here.

The trail along Gilbert Creek shown on some maps is long gone. Don't waste any time trying to follow the trail marked on the map. Follow Gilbert Creek up towards Gilbert Peak. The route is in timber at first, but varies between meadows and some marshy areas. The area is just gorgeous, especially after reaching timberline. From there its an alpine meadow. You will pass one lake before reaching "Gilbert Creek Lake" which is rather large and at 11,489 feet elevation. Both the creek and lake are full of fish, but it can be windy for camping here. Now after walking almost 20 miles, you are finally at the base of Gilbert Peak.

There are several routes to the peak from the upper basin. One possibility heads due north from the lake and reaches the east ridge of Gilbert at a saddle. Another route climbs just to the right (east) of a prominent gully due south of the highest summit of Gilbert. Both route are steep with much boulder hopping, but the views compensate for the effort.

Enjoy the summit. This route usually takes 4-5 days to complete.
Cleveland Lake. Cleve Peak is...
Cleveland Lake is on the route just before Fox-Quent Pass.

Essential Gear

A good pair of boots is needed. Parts of the route along Gilbert Creek are rather marshy and wet in summer, so be prepared for that. Full camping gear is needed, and if you like trout, don't forget a fishing pole.

Camping

There are great campsites all over the area. The most popular campsites are Cleveland Lake, Fox/Cresent Lakes, and kidney Lakes, so if solitude is important, you many want to camp elsewhere. All these lakes are big enough however, that you can still find a secluded campsite, and there never too crowded. Gilbert Creek has some of the most secluded campsites you'll find anywhere.

Images

I am just experimenting with...Gilbert Peak (center) from...