North Erickson Lake Trail
Overview: There aren’t many lakes in the High Uintas capable of yielding trout as big as North Erickson Lake does while requiring such a short, easy hike.
Start: End of Upper Setting Road
Distance: 5.6 miles out and back
Destination elevation: 10,020 feet
Approximate hiking time: 4 hours
Difficulty: Easy — one steep section
Nearest town: Kamas, Utah
Drainage: Weber River
Maps: USGS Erickson Basin; USDA Forest Service High Uintas Wilderness; Trails Illustrated High Uinta Wilderness
Trail contacts: Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Heber-Kamas Ranger District
Finding the trailhead: From Kamas, take the Mirror Lake Highway (Highway 150) about 10 miles to Upper Setting Road. Turn left onto the dirt road, and twist your way up the mountain until the road ends. A truck or four-wheel drive is recommended.
North Erickson Lake sits at the head of Smith and Morehouse Creeks in Erickson Basin. It can be reached from the Smith and Morehouse trailhead, but it is easier to start hiking from the end of Upper Setting Road in the Provo River Drainage. From there it is less than 3.0 miles to North Erickson on a good trail. You have to go over the mountain, but it’s not very steep (as mountain passes go). Stay with the trail, or you might walk right past the lake. It is in a bit of a hole surrounded by pines.
The best campsites are on the west side of the lake, just off the trail. Springwater is plentiful around the lake. If you camp on the west side as suggested, an icecold spring that feeds into the southwest corner of the lake will serve your water needs nicely.
South Erickson is just a hop, skip, and a jump to the south (0.25 mile).This pretty alpine lake abuts a talus slope and provides some excellent photo opportunities, but camping and fishing are better at North Erickson Lake. Large slickrock formations are prevalent between the two lakes. It is worth the hike over to South Erickson just to experience the unique terrain.
Back at North Erickson, the fish await. Actually, you’ll probably do most of the waiting. The fish seem to feed mostly at dusk and dawn, especially the big ones. Brook trout exceeding 18 inches in length and two pounds in weight can be caught if you’re patient — and lucky — enough. Try casting a small fly (#16) with a bubble as far as you can. Be sure to use fresh, supple line. Being able to cast long distances may mean the difference between getting skunked or catching a few alpine lunkers.