Hiking & Backpacking

Be prepared to be overwhelmed with the choices you have when it comes to hiking in the AshleyNational Forest! But don't be alarmed, you can plan your perfect trip using the information here on this website, or by calling one of our offices for further information. Hiking in the Ashley NF is what you want to make of it. We encourage all hikers to evaluate their skill level, choose a trail and conditions that are appropriate, plan what you take with you carefully, and let people know where you are going and when you'll be back.

There are an incredible amount of day-hikes and backpacking adventures are available that all offer different views, from forests, to deserts, to peaks. Hiking is the way to explore the forest, and is allowed anywhere within the forest.

Over 1,000 miles of trail exist on the Ashley National Forest providing visitors with access to backcountry and wilderness areas. Trailhead locations for many of these trails are listed under trails. Parking, horse unloading facilities, and comfort stations exist at most trailhead locations.

Trail Conditions

Trail conditions in the High Uintas Wilderness are generally poor. Expect muddy, rocky, trenched, and sometimes submerged trails. Nevertheless, please stay on the trail – don’t make conditions worse by widening or creating new trails! Wilderness trails are intended to be primitive and largely undeveloped, so they are inherently challenging. However, heavy use, thin and rocky soils, poor alignments, and declining funding have resulted in an enormous maintenance backlog and many miles of trail have degraded well below acceptable standards. However, our trail crews must focus their attention on correcting serious safety hazards, mitigating or preventing damage to natural resources, and clearing logs and other obstacles.

Alpine trails (above treeline) are much less used than many other trails and can be difficult to follow. Less used trails in other areas may be difficult to follow as well, particularly where they cross meadows. Where they disappear, we have constructed rock cairns for you to follow. Note that these may be missing – use your map. Where alpine trails are visible, usually on steeper slopes, they are often badly trenched and braided due to thick soils, poor drainage, and the lack of natural obstacles to confine visitors to the trail. Please stay on the trail!

Trails over alpine passes may remain snowbound late into the season, particularly after a hard winter. When under snow, some of these passes cannot be safely crossed without technical equipment. Even when free of snow, trails over alpine passes can be treacherous. Visitors on horseback should be especially cautious.

As a matter of wilderness policy, signs are kept to a bare minimum in wilderness and they are primitive in design. Generally, only trail junctions are signed, unless a serious management problem exists that requires signs. There are literally hundreds of trail junctions in the High Uintas Wilderness and many have damaged or missing signs. We are in the process of replacing these.

Trail bridges are not built in wilderness for the convenience of visitors. Bridges have been built on many stream crossings that are considered particularly hazardous or on crossings where stream banks and vegetation have been severely damaged or are at risk of severe damage from high use. Crossing streams without bridges can range in difficulty from very easy to very difficult, depending on water depth and speed, channel width, and your skills. Many streams can be difficult to cross during periods of rapid snowmelt or heavy rains. Use caution!

Click here for helpful tips on choosing food, packing up, hiking, and sleeping warm. Less experienced visitors may benefit from this collection of lessons learned by some of our wilderness rangers.