Moose Peak is located in the heart of the high Uintas of Utah in the northeast corner of the state, south of Wyoming. It lies in the middle of the Squaw benchmark ridge which is positioned between the Little East Fork Blacks Fork and the East Fork Smiths Fork. Virtually all of the Uinta peaks do not stand out by themselves. They are merely bumps connected to other bumps along long ridges. Moose Peak is no exception, but while it may be just a tiny bump on a long ridge, it is a very pretty, tiny bump on a very pretty, long ridge, with amazing scenery all about. Located to its southeast are the Red Castle Lakes and Wilson Peak
View from Mount Wilson over Red Castle Lake at Moose Peak
To the west of Moose Peak lies the Blacks Fork Ridge
and behind it the 13000 footers East Lovenia
, Wasatch BM
, NW Wasatch
, and Tokewanna
, all poke out.
The Blacks Fork Ridge
The north ridge of Moose Peak is very gently graded tundra, as are the north ridges of many other Uinta Peaks on the north slope, such as Lamotte, North Beulah, Powell, and Tokewanna. These ridges do not steepen until shortly before their corresponding peaks.
View from Bald Mountain, south to Moose Peak
The south ridge of Moose Peak consists of a series of bumps which look brick red close up but from far away the whole ridge looks pink on its east side.
Moose Peak from .5 miles south
Moose Peak from 2 miles south
In general, views north along the ridge have a reddish hue. At the time I hiked this peak, views to the south were distinctly brown and not very colorful. Like most other Uinta Peaks, the summit consists of a jumbled up pile of rocks.
The north side of Moose Peak
The south side of Moose Peak and summit cairn
To the south of Moose Peak, along the ridge, lies 12686' Squaw Peak
. The highpoint of the ridge is 12990' Squaw Benchmark
, located at the very south end. At the north end is Bald Mountain
The north end of the Squaw Benchmark ridge
Moose Peak is 12780 feet tall and has a prominence of 400 feet putting it at number 30 of 118 on Scott
's list of 12000 footers in Utah with over 200 feet of prominence
. It has no official name.
Moose Peak is most easily accessed by the East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead which is the way I went, but you can also access it by the China Meadows Trailhead.
East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead
Driving to the trailhead you can see Moose Peak on the left
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. Turn right onto 410 and follow it 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 noticably 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.
Take I80 to exit 34 in Wyoming and head to Fort Bridger. Go 5.3 miles to a blinking red light. Turn right onto Wyoming state route 414 and go 3 miles to Wyoming state route 410. Turn right onto 410 and follow it for 7 miles until it makes the second sharp right bend where there is a sign for Robertson. At this bend, you go straight onto a very well maintained dirt road. Follow the signs for the China Meadows Trailhead which you will reach in 20 miles or so.
The East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead
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.
When to Climb
Moose Peak from the west
Late summer and early fall are great times to hike in the Uintas, because the temperatures are still fairly warm, the stream crossings are easier, and there are no mosquitoes.
The dirt road to the East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead is not plowed.
The dirt road to the China Meadows Trailhead is only plowed for the first 7-8 miles or so. The plowing stops at the left turn to the Henrys Fork Trailhead.
Routes OverviewLittle East Fork Blacks Fork
East Fork Smiths Fork
The west ridge of Moose Peak is on the left
Judging from a map and pictures, it looks as though one could scramble up the west ridge of Moose Peak to the summit. As shown in the picture to the left there wouldn't be many trees on this route, so if you hate bushwhacking, this might be a good way to ascend the ridge. But, since I have not personally gone this way, I cannot vouch for it.
Squaw Benchmark Ridge Loop
Moose Peak from the East Fork Smiths Fork Trail
Judging from a map and pictures, it looks as though one could scramble up to either the north or south saddles of Moose Peak from the East Fork Smiths Fork Trail accessed via the China Meadows Trailhead. The terrain does not look particularly difficult, however, I did not go this way so I can not personally vouch for it. It is clear however, that this side of the ridge is generally less steep than the west side of the ridge, (i.e. the Little East Fork Blacks Fork side).
Looking back along route Looking forward along route
Instead of climbing Moose Peak directly as in the two routes mentioned above, I think it is more rewarding to get on the ridge at your first opportunity and walk along the whole thing. You can start at the East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead, bushwhack up to the ridge, follow the ridge over Moose Peak, Squaw Peak, and Squaw Benchmark to point 12960, turn west and follow the main Uinta crest west to Squaw Pass, and then take the Little East Fork Blacks Fork and the East Fork Blacks Fork trails back to the trailhead. Check the route page for more info.
Looking at a false summit of Moose Peak from the south
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 Moose Peak.
Topo map of Squaw Benchmark Ridge including Moose Peak