South Blacks Fork Peak is in the middle
The High Uinta Mountains consist of one main 75 mile long zigzagging east/west crest and many north and south spur ridges connecting to it. It is located in the northeastern section of the state of Utah, just south of the state of Wyoming. South Blacks Fork Peak has the distinction of being on the main crest as well as the north/south Blacks Fork spur ridge. The Blacks Fork Ridge lies between the East Fork Blacks Fork and the Little East Fork Blacks Fork and is easily accessed by the East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead.
The Blacks Fork Ridge, South Blacks Fork Peak is on the left
Most peaks in the area of South Blacks Fork Peak are a very red shade in the late afternoon.
Staring down the main Uinta crest a short distance SE from the summit
View of Squaw Benchmark from the summit
The peak is located 9.13 miles west of Kings Peak
, Utah's high point. Unlike Kings Peak it sees few visitors. After four trips to the general area, I've yet to see anyone else. As the crow flies, the closest trailhead to the north is the East Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead, 7.7 miles away. To the south it is 14.6 miles to the Lake Fork Trailhead. But, it is only a mere 2 miles away and 1800 feet higher than the Highline Trail, the premier hiking trail of the Uintas, which crisscrosses the main crest and stretches from the Mirror Lake Highway on the west to Highway 191 on the east.
At 12769', South Blacks Fork Peak comes in 32 out of 118 on Scott
of Utah 12000 footers with over 200 feet of prominence. Its prominence is 349'. It has no official name, only that which Scott has given it because it is the southern most of the four peaks on the Blacks Fork Ridge. The peaks north of it are Northwest Blacks Fork Peak
(12747'), North Blacks Fork Peak
(12788'), and Central Blacks Fork Peak
(12869'). Most of the peaks on Scott's list don't get many visitors unless they are the highpoint of a county or have more than 1000' of prominence. South Blacks Fork Peak does not make the cut.
When approaching the peak from the north on the Blacks Fork Ridge the terrain is a mix of grass and mostly stable rock with a very short section that required some minimal hand use. The top is fairly flat and has a cairn.
Mix of grass and rock
Some very small, easy to navigate cliffs
The summit cairn
Both the southwest and the southeast ridges are gently sloped and easy walking.
The southwest ridge with the Lovenias behind it
The other side of the southwest ridge, viewed from E Lovenia
The southeast ridge
There are two things to note in the picture below of Central Blacks Fork Peak on the left and South Blacks Fork Peak on the right. The first is the little bump exactly in the middle of the saddle. From far away it looks like this is another peak poking up from behind the ridge, but it is not, it is really a bump along the ridge. The other thing is the distinct color change between Central and South. While all the peaks on the Blacks Fork Ridge have a reddish hue, South Blacks Fork Peak is a distinctly darker shade as are the other nearby peaks on the main Uinta crest. The difference in shades is also shown in the middle picture above. On the very left of that picture you can see the little saddle bump as well as the dividing line between light and dark red.
Central and South Blacks Fork Peaks viewed from the west
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
A nice loop hike can be made which climbs South 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.
Peaks two through five of the route are shown below. From left to right, South, Central, and North Blacks Fork Peak, and West Oweep Peak.
From L to R, peaks 4, 3, 2, and 5 of the route
From studying at a map, it looks like there are several possible approaches to South Blacks Fork Peak from the Highline Trail. One possible loop is shown at the left. In addition to going over South Blacks Fork Peak, it covers West Oweep Peak (12507), and Oweep Peak (12531') as well. Most of the way along the ridgeline is fairly easy walking, but it gets a little rugged around Oweep Peak and may be cumbersome with a full backpack. The descent from Oweep Peak to Squaw Pass is very steep and would be difficult with a heavy pack.
The off-trail section is shown in blue and is 4.69 miles long. The trail section is shown in red and is 3.05 miles long for a total of 7.74 miles. The total elevation gain is 2650 feet.
South 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 South Blacks Fork Peak.