Difficulty: More Difficult ◼︎◼︎
Length: 16 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet
Dog Friendly: Yes
Trailhead coordinates (copy + paste): 40.7003, -110.8834
Directions: Enter the Uintas via Kamas, on the Mirror Lake Highway, and park at Mirror Lake. This road is seasonal and can only be accessed from mid/late May through early/mid November. Check UDOT's traffic website for current status. Follow the Highline Trail from here. At the 5 mile mark, follow the sign left onto the Naturalist Basin Trail. After another mile, turn right at the fork towards Shaler Lake. Pass by larger Jordan Lake before climbing the final steep section up to Shaler. Note: bring $6 of cash or a check. You will need to get a self-serve 1-3 day recreation pass, available at the trailhead.
A long trek passing through two popular trails in the Uintas, the hike to Shaler Lake is long and mellow, and passes by dozens of lakes. The number of people around decreases exponentially with every step you take. The trail begins at Mirror Lake, which buzzes with activity, and then follows the a small section of the Highline Trail. Here you will pass through a burn area and encounter some day hikers and backpackers heading to other destinations on this 105-mile trail. Things become quieter when you turn into Naturalist Basin. The trail climbs up one steep section before reaching its serene 11,000-foot ending point. Shaler Lake sits at the top end of the basin below Spread Eagle Peak and doesn't see many visitors. Despite being a lake, Shaler rivals many summits with both its elevation and remoteness.