Grandaddy Lake – A Gorgeous, Family Approved, High Uinta Hike and Lake


If you are wanting to find a beautiful High Uinta lake that is a little bit off the beaten path, Grandaddy Lake is perfect for you!

Grandaddy Lake is a gorgeous, high Uinta lake.  Grandaddy is known as being the largest natural lake in the high Uinta Mountains.  When the Uintas are known for having over a thousand lakes, being the largest is a pretty cool designation!  Grandaddy Lake is located in the High Uinta Wilderness area.  For this reason, motorized vehicles are not allowed.  If you want to see this beautiful lake, you will need to hike or ride horses in.  Mommy Crusader and I packed up all five of our little knights and ladies and we completed the trek out to Grandaddy Lake.

I would recommend making this hike, for it is gorgeous!  It is definitely worth it.  You do want to make sure you have an early start or are planning to stay the night.  It is a four-mile hike, one-way.  You are climbing up over a high mountain pass and dropping down into a valley.  If you are hiking with children, this hike will take longer than you planned.  It took us more than two hours to hike one-way.  This trek is four miles long, with a hard ascent and a hard descent on both sides on rocky terrain.  Make sure that you are in the proper physical condition to make the trek.

To get to Grandaddy Lake, head South from Kamas, UT, and then head east on Highway 35.  Just before you get to Hanna, UT, turn north on North Fork Road.  Follow it up, until just past the Hades Canyon campground and the horse rental and camping resort.  Turn right onto Hades Canyon road, it will have a marker that says Grandview trailhead.  Follow this road up for six miles until you read the Grandview trailhead.  On a Summer weekend, there will be quite a few cars here.  You will only want to make this trek in July or August with your family, otherwise it will be too cold.

The map at the trailhead of Grandaddy Lake.

The map at the trailhead of Grandaddy Lake. You are hiking from the Grandview trailhead, through Hades Pass, and down to Grandaddy Lake.

The sign at the beginning of the Grandaddy Trail.

The sign at the beginning of the Grandaddy Trail. It says “Hades Pass – 2 1/2 miles, Grandaddy Lake – 4 Miles”

The trail starts by following a stream up a canyon.  One thing about the High Uintas, ALWAYS prepare for rain.  Make sure and check the forecast before you head up.  It wasn’t supposed to rain on us, but in the High Uintas, any cloud can settle down into a valley and get you very wet.  For this same reason, make sure and wear shoes that you can get wet.  The first part of this trail is very wet.

Starting up the trail to Grandaddy Lake.

Starting up the trail to Grandaddy Lake. Be prepared for wet feet, especially right at the beginning.

You will want to pack lightly and make sure that you have plenty of water.  Each of my three largest kiddos carried two water bottles and snacks, lunch, and dinner.  The two older kiddos also each had two fishing poles.  Mommy Crusader packed two water bottles, and another gallon of water to re-fill water bottles.  I packed a small tackle box, four bottles of water, some light snacks, and my toddler.

Crossing over from the Ashley National Forest to the High Uintas Wilderness.

Crossing over from the Ashley National Forest to the High Uintas Wilderness.

My First Grader, stopping for a water break on the trail to Grandaddy Lake.

My First Grader, stopping for a water break on the trail to Grandaddy Lake.

My toddler, excited to be free from daddy for a minute for a water break on the way to Grandaddy Lake.

My toddler, excited to be free from daddy for a minute for a water break on the way to Grandaddy Lake.

You will cross over a bridge, and then head up the other side of the canyon.  At this point you will be going up switch-backs.  The trail wasn’t nearly as wet after this point, but make sure that everyone in your party has good mosquito repellent on.  They are HUNGRY!

Mommy Crusader and her hiking buddy, my preschooler, headed up the trail to Grandaddy Lake.

Mommy Crusader and her hiking buddy, my preschooler, headed up the trail to Grandaddy Lake.

My First Grader hiking the trail to Grandaddy Lake.

My First Grader hiking the trail to Grandaddy Lake.

After you hike up the switch-backs, you will be on top, headed towards Hades pass.  This is the easiest hiking, but it is about a mile-long.  The views are gorgeous.

West Grandaddy Mountain, as seen from the pass headed towards Grandaddy Lake.  My kids were amazed at the snow.

West Grandaddy Mountain, as seen from the pass headed towards Grandaddy Lake. My kids were amazed at the snow.

Almost to the to the top of Hades Pass, this rock section was nice to hike, it was just a gradual climb up on the way to Grandaddy Lake.

Almost to the to the top of Hades Pass, this rock section was nice to hike, it was just a gradual climb up on the way to Grandaddy Lake.

This little body of water was located right at the top of the pass.  They are quite plentiful, but they sure do breed a LOT of mosquitos.  Be prepared for mosquitos as you hike to Grandaddy Lake.

This little body of water was located right at the top of the pass. These little ponds are quite plentiful, but they sure do breed a LOT of mosquitos. Be prepared for mosquitos as you hike to Grandaddy Lake.

As you top Hades Pass, you will start down the valley to the other side.  This is another series of switchbacks.  Shortly after these switchbacks begin you will see the lakes.  Heart Lake is located near the top of the switchbacks.  From what we have heard, there aren’t fish in Heart Lake.  You can see that it is quite shallow.  There are also LOTS of little lakes that you will see on the way down.

Heart Lake, as seen from the trail on the way to Grandaddy Lake.

Heart Lake, as seen from the trail on the way to Grandaddy Lake.

In this picture, you can see both Heart Lake, on the right of the image, and Grandaddy Lake, to the left of the image.

In this picture, you can see both Heart Lake, on the right of the image, and Grandaddy Lake, to the left of the image.

Grandaddy Lake, as seen from the switchbacks on the way to Grandaddy Lake.

Grandaddy Lake, as seen from the switchbacks on the way to Grandaddy Lake.

Because you can see the lake, you will think that you are close.  This is deceptive, it is quite a bit farther than you think.  You will go down a series of switchbacks, and go down a long, straight path until you finally reach Grandaddy Lake.

Mommy Crusader and my Preschooler headed down the switchbacks on the way to Grandaddy Lake.

Mommy Crusader and my Preschooler headed down the switchbacks on the way to Grandaddy Lake.

The knights and ladies headed down the path towards Grandaddy Lake.

The knights and ladies headed down the path towards Grandaddy Lake.

We went down and set-up a picnic site near Grandaddy Lake.  I apologize that I don’t have any more pictures, because I was too busy helping my kids go fishing and be kids instead of taking pictures.  We did have success fishing at Grandaddy Lake, using a gold spinner.  We weren’t able to fish as long as we would have liked, because one of the storms that are common in the High Uintas cut our fishing short.  The hike out was uneventful, but we were VERY tired when we got home and the next day.  My Preschooler, First Grader, Third Grader, and Fifth Grader all made the trek by themselves.

If you are looking for a family accessible, gorgeous hike to an awesome lake, then take the time to head out to Grandaddy Lake!

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