Difficulty: More Difficult ◼︎◼︎
Length: 23.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet
Dog Friendly: Yes
Trailhead coordinates (copy + paste): 40.9229, -110.4046
Directions: The trailhead is about 2.5 hours from Park City via Evanston, WY. The coordinates will lead you just past the China Meadows campground to a large parking lot, where you'll need $5 of cash to park. The East Smith's Fork trail is easy to follow all the way to both lakes. All forks along the way are marked with signs. Note: this route travels on many miles of washboarded dirt roads that can be handled by any car with caution.
Without a doubt one of the most beautiful areas in the Uintas, the Red Castle Lakes are well worth the long trek that's required to reach them. Traveling through classic Uinta meadows and along picturesque streams, the trail is quite flat and makes for a pleasant walk through the forest. The first ten miles have minimal elevation gain and are easy to navigate on a well-maintained dirt path. A few streams pass over the trail, where rocks are nicely arranged to allow for easy crossings. Lower Red Castle Lake sits at the end of mile 10, shadowed by an impressive and distinctly castle-like peak. With an elevation of 10,760 feet, the large, clear lake offers plenty of room to camp and explore. Upper Red Castle Lake is located 2 miles and 54o more feet up the trail. Continue on the same trail, passing numerous small lakes along the way, then follow the rocky path up the shelf to find the large lake waiting just across a rock field. Upper Red Castle Lake has an elevation of 11,300 feet and is encased by Wilson Peak and surrounding rock walls that give the lake its own basin. Remote, pristine, and stunningly gorgeous, this is the only destination that has ever convinced me to walk 23.5 miles in one day. Conquering the lakes over two days would allow for more time to explore and enjoy the vast area, which sits only a few miles away from Utah's famous King's Peak.