Climbing Kings Peak, Southwest of Manila, Utah

Kings Peak,

Kings Peak, Credit

Highest Peak in Utah in the Uninta Range

The summit trail to Kings Peak (13,528 feet) from Henry’s Fork Campground is twelve and a half miles and requires camping overnight closer to the top of of the peak.

The twelve and a half mile trail to Kings Peak begins at Henry’s Fork Campground ten miles west of Manila, Utah. There is no other way to get here but by private car where there is enough parking for forty vehicles or so. The starting point of the summit trail is 9,500 feet above sea level. Hikers should pack supplies and food necessary for a two-night stay at Dollar Lake some seven miles distant from the trail head. Hikers must sign the register just outside of Henry’s Fork Campground stating that their objective is the summit of Kings Peak. The best times to climb Kings Peak (named after Clarence King, the first head of the U.S. Geological Survey) are from mid-June through mid-September. Be aware that it can snow well into June and that summer thunderstorms are frequent. It is best to be on the summit no later than noon. The worst times to climb this peak would be from mid-September through early June. There are no man-made hazards on this twelve and a half miles trail, but once the hiker is above twelve thousand feet, she will encounter loose scree.

The Early Part of this Trail Offers Many Opportunities to See Much Wildlife

Once the hiker is own the way to Dollar Lake, he will experience dense stands of lodgepole pines and many streams that have been dammed by beavers. If the hiker gets an early start he will probably see a moose feeding along the stream sides and mule deer scampering through the woods. Along the side of the trail take note of the many wild flowers such as rosy paintbrushes, white alpine bistorts, white geraniums, and bright yellow heart-leafed arnica (whose sepals give relief to rheumatism).

Within a few miles, the trail runs along the top of bluffs overlooking Henry’s Fork River. Here is a great place to take a rest. From the top of these river bluffs the hiker can begin to see the vast beauty of the Uninta Range that is estimated to be 3.9 billion years old, much older than the mere 60 million-year old Colorado Rockies. While the Rocky Mountain Chain runs north-south, these Unitas run east-west suggesting that the much younger tectonic plates have collected around the older Uintas. To the east, the hiker can see Gilbert Peak rising to 13,422 feet and to the west, Flat Top Mountain rising to 12,170 feet. Before the hiker continues, she should listen to the melodious notes of the western song sparrow indigenous to the Unitas. Within another two miles, the trail will cross a wooden footbridge across Henry’s Fork and eventually rise up over a subalpine rill to give the hiker a tremendous view of the high Unitas, maroon colored and cathedral-organ shaped. As the hiker proceeds along the trail, she will notice that the trees have become much smaller and clumpy. After a mile or so of hiking is this marshy, grassy, tree-clumped terrain, the hiker will at last see Dollar Lake sparkling like a giant silver dollar. Here is where camp should be set up and dinner cooked and a good night’s sleep be taken.

Rise With the Sun and Take a Day-pack With Snacks and Water to Summit Kings Peak

On this second day, the hiker will begin at 11,300 feet or so to climb above tree line to Gunsight Pass just over 12,000 feet. Here is a good resting spot with just a little over three miles to the summit. From Gunsight Pass the hiker can look northward into the Red Desert country of Wyoming and look all around at many thirteen-thousand foot peaks. Take note of white alpine-forget-me-not at your feet. These little flowers are rare and usually are light blue in color. Do not get discouraged by descending into a meadow, first of all because it is so beautiful and lush with marsh marigolds, and second of all it rises quite quickly from the meadow to Anderson Pass at 12,700 feet. From the meadow the hiker will get a full view of Kings Peak looming above. The trail rises quickly on the west side of the meadow following gushing streams beside bright green tufts of alpine tundra. It takes about an hour to arrive at high Anderson Pass.

There is a Vertical Gain of Less Than 900 Feet From Anderson Pass to the Summit,

At Anderson Pass the hiker can breathe a sigh of relief as he has only 828 vertical feet to go. But he must take caution in getting handholds and footholds on loose scree. While there are no wild flowers up here, the rocks themselves have a beauty all of their own: rosy shale, gray granite, and red quartzite. High pitched squeaks can be heard up here coming from a small, rabbit-like pika. Within less than a hour, the hiker will stand atop the highest point in Utah with views of the entire Uinta Range including, to the west, the distant snowy, cone-shaped Tokewanna Peak rising 13, 123 feet. The hike takes two days with a vertical gain of 4,000 feet. Bring sufficient water (and food) as there are no pure water sources along the Summit Trail, nor are there any rest room facilities. You can download a USGS Quad map of the Unita Range.

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