The two highest peaks in our endeavor seem almost impossible at this point. Their height and difficulty are daunting to me, as they are longer hikes than I’ve ever attempted. As we gain experience and get into better and better shape working our way through the other summits, I hope these two peaks seem more attainable to both of us.
Gilbert Peak is the highest peak in Summit County, our home county, at 13,442 feet. While there are several ways to approach the summit, the tentative plan at this point on making it a joint trip with King’s Peak, using a base point mid-way between the two.
Just to the southwest of Gilbert Peak is King’s Peak, the highest summit in Utah and located in Duchesne County. At 13, 528 feet it is just slightly higher than South King’s Peak, which was thought to be the highest point in Utah until the 1960s.
Both summits are in the High Uintas Wilderness Area.
It’s a three hour drive to the trailhead from our house. This is quite nice as it means we can do the drive and the first part of the hike in one day, a luxury those who have a farther drive aren’t afforded. The trailhead is at Henry’s Fork Campground. From there, it’s a seven mile hike to Dollar Lake, one of the most popular camping spots. Dollar Lake or somewhere nearby will be your base for these two peaks.
The round trip from Henry’s Fork Trailhead to King’s Peak is 28 to 32 miles, depending on what math you believe. So after camping near Dollar Lake, you’re looking at a 14-mile or so round trip up King’s Peak and back to camp.
The hike from Dollar Lake to Gilbert Peak isn’t nearly as long, but there is no well-defined trail, so choosing one of three or four suggested routes, you must follow your topo maps, your GPS, and your instincts to safely reach the summit.
Another option includes a loop, leaving the Dollar Lake area, going to Gilbert Peak and circling south to King’s Peak and back to your campsite. Of course, a couple (crazy) people offer the option of doing each peak as a day-hike, starting before dawn and ending (hopefully!) right at dark, but that’s not an option we’re giving serious credence to at this point.
The whole excursion promises a plethora of wildlife. The possibility of moose and bear are the most obvious, but I’ve also read that from both peaks you can see the most beautiful drainage areas and the amazing wildlife that comes with them. However, as is always an issue in the Uinta’s and all high peaks in the western US, the threat of afternoon thunderstorm and the accompanying lightning loom over these peaks. You don’t want to get caught on one of them in a storm, and so must have the flexibility to either wait a day or re-attempt one or both peaks at another time.