Uintas – East Fork Bear River

Matt, Shane, and I (Tyler) all made it out for a backpacking trip up to the Uintas this last weekend, 6/28/15. Matt and I have done a number of trails in the Uintas, so we tried to spot something new and epic. We decided that the East Fork of the Bear River was going to be a good spot with potential for a loop by going over Yard Pass, just North of Yard Peak.

East Fork Bear River Trailmap

We started at the East Fork Bear River trail head and hiked South until the split in the trail and took a hiker’s right toward Norice and Priord Lake. We then conquered Yard Pass to arrive near Allsop Lake for a nice loop back out to the trail head.

We left Salt Lake Friday afternoon after work, and after Shane drove in from Boise. We got to the trailhead in just under 2 hours and started our trek. It was late by the time we got started, so we only managed a few miles before it was getting dark and we were getting hungry for dinner.

The Camp Spot for Night 1

We set up camp the first night by the river, sprayed copious amounts of bug spray, and made some delicious dinner. We were looking forward to some start gazing, but the moon was bright enough to clearly see your shadow, so it was a nice clear night, but not the best for stars.

Me trying not to get swept away during a fairly deep river crossing

Me trying not to get swept away during a fairly deep river crossing

The next day we were racing against some spring storms that were rolling in. The trail was in pretty bad condition as it was wet and muddy almost everywhere and had been destroyed by horses. There were also multiple river crossings about thigh deep.

Rolling rivers along the trail

Rolling rivers along the trail

We only managed a few hours of hiking before the thunder and rain made us stop at Norice Lake and take shelter under the pines. Norice lake wasn’t too impressive and at first we were a little disappointed when we thought it was Priord Lake. Luckily, after dropping off our packs and assembling the fishing poles, we continued up the basin and found the real Priord Lake which was absolutely stunning with vibrant emerald water and massive snow covered peaks. We fished the lake for a while with some luck catching a few Cutthroat Trout. We retired for the night and prepared ourselves for Yard Pass tomorrow.

Shane admiring the waterfall we had to downclimb

Shane admiring the waterfall we had to downclimb

Yard Pass can be seen as the low-point on the right side

Yard Pass can be seen as the low-point on the right side

Shane with his Cutthroat

Shane with his Cutthroat

Matt and Shane on the hike up Yard Pass, looking back on Priord Lake Basin

Matt and Shane on the hike up Yard Pass, looking back on Priord Lake Basin

On Sunday, we awoke to good weather and high spirits in anticipation of the pass. We couldn’t find many trip reports or maps with a trail over Yard Pass identified, but had found a few who had done it, so we knew it was possible. We started in and followed a few game trails intermittently as they came and went. We definitely never found an established hiking trail, but the path up was not too overgrown and easy hiking. Once we made it through swampy fields, forested hills, and a loose rock scramble, we were rewarded with an amazing view of both basins atop Yard Pass.

Priord Basin

Priord Basin from Yard Pass

The whole gang at the top of Yard Pass

The whole gang at the top of Yard Pass

Shane looking into Allsop Basin

Shane looking into Allsop Basin

Allsop Basin from Yard Pass

Allsop Basin from Yard Pass

Me overlooking Allsop Basin (I'm very small)

Me overlooking Allsop Basin (I’m very small atop the cliff)

Matt overlooking Allsop Basin

Matt overlooking Allsop Basin

The long hike out

The long hike out

The hike down into Allsop Basin from yard Pass was much steeper with more loose rocks and dirt making for a slow and taxing hike down into the next basin. Once we made it off the pass, we quickly found the trail going back out and followed it through yet another spectacular basin. It was in about the same shape as the Priord basin trail with lots of muddy spots destroyed by horses. After a quick stop for lunch along the river, we continued on and eventually made it back to the car after hiking most the day.

Lunch break on the way out

Lunch break on the way out

Overall, it was a great trip! We really enjoyed taking the seldom used Yard Pass and finding our own way to epic and desolate views. Overall, we estimate we hiked around 20 miles (I had planned to track it on my GPS, but it decided to die on us) and climbed about 2000 feet up to 11,750 ft at the pass. If you’re going to the Uintas this time of year, definitely bring a LOT of bug spray as the mosquitoes were terrible. This North side of the Uintas also sees a lot of horse traffic and was used at some point for cattle grazing. Because of this, the trails were in pretty rough shape with many muddy sections that were a bit tough to traverse. I would recommend this hike for fall as there will be fewer bugs, and the trails in general will be much drier.

  • Distance: ~20 miles
    • 4 miles from the trail head to the fork in the trail
    • 5.5 miles from fork to Priord Lake
    • ~2 miles from Priord to Allsop Lake
    • 4.5 miles from Allsop Lake to fork in the trail
  • Elevation Gain: 2,165 ft
  • Trail-head Elevation: 9,153 ft
  • Yard Pass Elevation: 11,318 ft
  • Our time: 3 days, 2 nights
  • My rating: Moderate
  • Their rating: ???
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