Central Blacks Fork Peak viewed from the east
There are 118 peaks over 12000 feet high with over 200 feet of prominence in the state of Utah according to Scott
. Most of these almost never get visited. Even some of the 13000 footers on the list only see a handful of people a year. Those peaks that happen to be the high point of a county or have over 1000 feet of prominence are those most likely to be visited. The others lead a very lonely life. The peaks located in the heart of the High Uintas Wilderness are the most lonely of them all since they are located a long way from any trailhead.
The ridge between the Little East Fork Blacks Fork and the East Fork Blacks Fork of the Uintas contains three such peaks that have virtually no chance of ever being visited, plus one peak lucky enough to have over 1,000 feet of prominence. This page details the lucky one, Central Blacks Fork Peak (12869'). This peak is the third to the north of the four peaks. It has no official name, only that which Scott has given it. It has 1074 feet of prominence and ranks 23 on Scott's list.
The two peaks to the north are Northwest
and North Blacks Fork
Peaks. The peak to the south is South Blacks Fork Peak
Central and North Blacks Fork Peaks from the southeast
Central and South Blacks Fork Peaks from the west
According to the Utah's 1,000+ Prominence List
there are 361 peaks in Utah with prominence over 1000 feet. On that list, Central Blacks Fork Peak ranks near the bottom at 307. However, in terms of height, it is the 6th highest peak on the list. The five peaks on the list that are higher are all 13000 footers.
Of the entire Blacks Fork Ridge crest, there is only one section that is greater than class 3, this is the south side of Central Blacks Fork Peak, which consists of a series of cliffs whose total height is about 50 feet. The cliffs can be bypassed on the east however by traveling north a short distance from the summit and descending to the northeast to the 12800' level and then traversing south along the base of the cliffs.
The south side of Central Blacks Fork Peak
Ascending the peak from the north along the ridge is straight forward.
The north side of Central Blacks Fork Peak
The actual summit of Central Blacks Fork Peak is very gently sloping and consists of a mosaic of flat rocks with a small cairn at the high point.
The very small summit cairn
Take I80 to exit 34 in Wyoming and head to Fort Bridger. Go 5.3 miles to a blinking red light. Turn right on Wyoming state route 414 and go 3 miles to Wyoming state route 410. Follow 410 for 13 miles. First you will see a sign that says the pavement ends in 750 feet. Shortly you will see another sign for "Blacks Fork River Access Area" and then another one that says "Wasatch Nat'l Forest/Meeks Cabin 13". If you miss the signs, don't worry, the three sets of rumble strips should wake you up. Do as the signs say and turn left. The road you turn onto starts out paved but soon changes to dirt. Follow the main road 23.6 miles to the signboard (just past a gate) for the East Fork Blacks Fork Trail. The trail start is just before the signboard. There is no parking right at the trail start. Instead, continue on the road for just a few feet and turn right and then left into the parking lot.
On the Wyoming side, the dirt road is beautifully graded and maintained and you can make good time. Once it crosses the Utah border it gets noticeably worse and once it passes the intersection with the dirt road headed for the Mirror Lake Highway, it gets worse still. It's somewhat rocky but is fine for passenger cars if you go slow.
Normal wilderness area restrictions apply. Check the signboard at the trailhead for the most uptodate information.
There is a free campground at the East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead. There are 7 official sites all of which have fire pits. Four of these have picnic tables and three do not. Even on weekends, I've seen at most three sites in use. There is no water so you need to bring your own.
If you choose to backpack, you should have no problem finding a spot along either the Little East Fork Blacks Fork Trail or the East Fork Blacks Fork Trail.
When to Climb
If you want to avoid snow, mid July through the beginning of September are the best months. Creek crossings will be significantly easier later in the summer. The dirt road leading to the East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead is not plowed in the winter.
Routes OverviewBlacks Fork Ridge Loop
Central Blacks Fork Peak is the second from the right
A nice loop hike can be made which climbs Central Blacks Fork Peak plus 5 other 12000 footers in one day. Start on the East Fork Blacks Fork Trail and head for the north ridge of Northwest Blacks Fork Peak. Head south on the ridge and hit Northwest, North, Central, and South Blacks Fork Peaks to the main east/west crest of the Uintas which is reached on South Blacks Fork Peak. From South Blacks Fork Peak head southeast down the main ridge and follow this ridge over West Oweep Peak (12507') and Oweep Peak (12531'). Descend to the Little East Fork Trail and follow it back to the East Fork Trail which is followed back to the start. The route is 21.3 miles long with a total of 6100 feet of elevation gain. It is primarily class 1 and class 2 with some short minor class 3 sections.
The first four peaks of the route are shown at left. From left to right, Northwest, North, Central, and South Blacks Fork Peaks.
Topo of what looks to be the easiest approach Corresponding route picture
For those prominence peak seekers that only want to do this peak and none of the others on the ridge, to the left is a topo of the route that looks the easiest to me and that I would try if I were one of you. It is close to 10 miles one way with a vertical gain of 3600 feet. On the right is a picture showing this route. But, since I haven't done it myself, I can't vouch for it.
Following the ridge as in the Blacks Fork Ridge Route above would be more direct, but it would have a bigger elevation gain. The one way distance would only be 8.4 miles but there are lots of ups and downs on the ridge and the vertical gain on the way to the summit would be almost 5000 feet and on the return it would be about 1000 feet depending upon how many bumps you can skirt.
Central Blacks Fork Peak is in the middle
A typical summer day in the Uintas dawns without a cloud in the sky. By mid morning faint wisps of clouds are seen on the horizon. By midday the sky is half full of big puffy clouds. In the afternoon the sky is mostly overcast and possibly raining, but by early evening blue sky makes a comeback. Afternoon thunderstorms are frequent.
Here is a link
to the current 7 day forecast for Central Blacks Fork Peak.