West Fork Whiterocks River

West Fork Whiterocks River

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 40.76580°N / 110.3778°W
Additional Information Route Type: Long backpack with minor scrambling
Additional Information Time Required: A few days
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 2+
Sign the Climber's Log


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.

First half of the Highline...First half of the Highline Trail and West Fork Whiterocks Routes.

Second half of the Highline...Second half of the Highline Trail and West Fork Whiterocks Routes.

Route Description

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.

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, over to PAinter Basin, then Anderson Pass, and then south to Kings Peak.

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 Queant 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. Crescent 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 among 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. Continue west on the Highline Trail to the four-way junction at Painter Basin. This is 22 miles from the trailhead. From Painter Basin continue west (straight) staying on the Highline Trail and follow it as it climbs to Anderson Pass at 12,700 feet. This is the standard route on Kings Peak and South Kings Peak.

From Anderson Pass, follow the well used ridge route south to the summit of Kings. Kings is 800 feet above Anderson Pass and has some minor scrambling. From Kings Peak, the route to South Kings is highly visible and obvious.

One thing you have to be very cautious about is that on the return trip you will have to re-climb Kings Peak and descend to Anderson Pass. This means you have to be extra careful with the weather when climbing South Kings since you will actually be on the ridge-top for a much greater distance. Thunderstorms are very common, and if there are any slight signs of one, immediately turn back and don't continue to South Kings!

From King Peak, follow the ridge south to the col between Kings and South Kings there is some minor scrambling. Continue on to South Kings, staying on the ridge. The distance from Kings Peak is 0.8 miles with just over 400 feet altitude loss and gain. There is one very minor false summit along the way. If you're up to it, and if the weather is good, you can continue south along the ridge all the way to Mount Emmons. See this route page for details. This route is 51 miles round trip and usually takes five days round trip.

South Kings as seen from Kings PeakSouth Kings as seen from Kings Peak.

Essential Gear

A good pair of boots is needed.



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