Wilson Peak is one of the highest peaks in Utah, although it is one of the lower Utah 13er’s. The Peak is located in the High Uintas Wilderness Area, more specifically in the Red Castle Lakes area. The Red Castle Lakes area is one of the more beautiful places in the Uintas. Red Castle and Wilson Peak rise high above the surrounding lakes, creating some gorgeous scenery. When viewed from the Upper Red Castle Lake, the north face of Wilson peak provides a rugged backdrop. Backcountry camping is excellent between Lower Red Castle Lake and the Upper Red Castle Lake. The nearby Red Castle is a spectacle in itself, being very rugged and standing tall above the lakes. The peak is named after A. D. Wilson, the head topographer for the Geological Survey of the 40th parallel.
The Spectacular Red Castle
Red Castle, near Smiths Fork Pass
Wilson Peak is a good distance from the nearest road, with round trip hikes being a little less than 30 miles. The peak is usually hiked via Red Castle Lakes, ascending the west ridge of the peak from Upper Red Castle Lake. Wilson Peak is not a difficult peak; both routes require little elevation gain and the scrambling is kept to a minimal. I recommend taking a loop hike to Smiths Fork Pass, ascending the northeast ridge of the peak and then descending via Red Castle Lakes, or vice versa. The loop hike will allow you to see more of what the area has to offer. The Smiths Fork Pass area is not regularly visited and has a feeling of more remoteness and solitude than the Red Castle Lakes area.
Upper Red Castle Lake
Henry's Fork, Kings and South Kings peaks
The peak itself is seldom visited, but has some of the best views in the Uintas, including the spectacular Red Castle Lakes. The summit will give you a feeling of complete solitude, no roads in sight, just the Uinta Mountains. From the summit, many of the Utah 13er’s can be easily seen in the near distance, including, Gilbert, Gunsight, Henry’s Fork, Kings, South Kings, Powell, Lovenia and Tokewanna peaks. Many lakes can also be seen, most of the bigger ones are filled with trout.
Wilson Peak has 1320 feet of prominence (ranks as #4 of Utah 13'ers with the most prominence) and the peak comes in at #16 on the list of Utah 12,000+ foot peaks with 300+ prominence, made by Scott Patterson. Depending on the list there are 17-21 13,000 foot peaks in Utah.
360 degree Panorama from Wilson Peak 8/30/2006 Hide / Show labels
The routes described both start from China Meadows, which is most easily accessed by driving through Wyoming.
From Salt Lake City (145 miles) :
Head east on I-80 into Wyoming. Take exit #34 to I-80 Bus for 5.25 miles to Wyoming 414. Turn right onto 414 and head towards Mountain View, for just over 3 miles to the stop. At the stop take a right onto Wyoming 410. Follow Wyoming 410 for just over 6.5 miles to where it takes a sharp turn to the right. Instead of taking the sharp turn, go straight onto a well graded dirt road. Continue for 12 miles to an intersection, go right towards China Meadows. Continue for another 7 miles past the campgrounds and to the Smiths Fork Trailhead (starts from China Meadows).
Near Smiths Fork Pass
Red Tape & USGS Quads
No permits are required. Please follow wilderness area rules.
Mount Powell (1:24k)
Bridger Lake (1:24k)
When to Climb
July through early September is the best time of the year to attempt this hike. Years that the snow lasts longer may require crossing snow fields. Winter approaches are possible but the access roads are closed, adding many miles to the trip.
Lots of good camping and views from here on in.
The Red Castle Lakes area offers excellent backcountry camping with spots around Lower Red Castle Lake and some more good spots towards Upper Red Castle Lake. The Eastern Red Castle Lakes area is mostly barren with not many trees around. The distance to the Lower Red Castle Lake from China Meadows is just under 10 miles one-way. I would recommend camping between Lower Red Castle Lake and the Upper Red Castle Lake.
There are several campgrounds on the access road to China Meadows. There are three in the vicinity of China Meadows, they are: China Meadows Campground, Stateline Reservoir Campground, East Marsh Lake, all three of the campgrounds are located right off the access road. More information about these campgrounds can be found here.
There are also many undeveloped camping spots along the access road to China Meadows.
A predicted forecast for the area can be found here.
Local weather for Mountain View, Wyoming can be found here.