Red Castle Lakes is one of the most popular backpacking hikes in Utah and for good reason. But we found some hidden gems that will change this backpacking trip from fun to unforgettable. Check it out.
In a nutshell, Red Castle is an out and back moderate 20-mile backpacking trip through the High Uintas. It features beautiful lakes, plentiful wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. For trail head options, directions and all the details you’ll need to know for your trip, check out “The Ultimate Guide to Backpacking Red Castle Lakes in Utah.”
My husband went on this 3-day, 2-night backpacking trip together and it honestly one of my favorite trips. We had so much fun. Along the way, we discovered five hidden gems that you’ll love finding as you hike to Red Castle that many hikers miss. So, here we go:
Gem #1: Swim-worthy waterfall
Just a mile before you reach Lower Red Castle Lake and right after you finish the switch backs, there is a small waterfall on the left-hand side of the trail. It’s beautiful but many people walk past it without taking a dip. There’s a 4-foot deep pool at the bottom of the falls that is perfect for a swim.
We were hot and sweaty after backpacking nine-miles. This was a refreshing break that energized the both of us. We took of our shoes and I jumped in with my clothes on! If I were to do the hike again, I would wear my swimming suit underneath my clothes. But my clothes dried off quickly after we started hiking again.
Gem #2: Quiet no-name lake
Just west of Lower Red Castle, there a small lake without a name. Instead of camping amid the crowds at Lower Red Castle, we camped on the shores of this quaint lake. It was super quiet and relaxing. We even took a dip. It was only about 15-feet deep, so there’s no fish. But we didn’t mind, the solitude was worth it.
To get there, cross the bridge that leads to East Red Castle and keep walking until you see it on your right. You’ll still have a beautiful view of Red Castle.
Gem #3: Natural spring with wildflowers
After our first night camping, we made our way up to East Red Castle Lake. Along the trail, we ran into a natural spring coming out of the mountain. Next to the spring were thousands of purple flowers that cascaded down the mountain as far as the eye could see.
We did our trip in August and that is when all of the wildflowers are in full bloom. It was breathtaking and I felt lucky to witness such an amazing display of natural beauty.
Gem #4: Big fish at East Red Castle Lake
Red Castle Lakes are known for the loads of fish that you can catch. But we were unexpectedly surprised by the big tiger trout swimming around in East Red Castle Lake. I am not a fisherman, but my husband is. Once he discovered what they were biting on, we caught a few nice ones.
Below is a video that my husband made our little trip that shows all the wildlife we saw and fish we caught.
Gem #5: Fishing at the inlet of Lower Red Castle
Aside from East Red Castle, my husband caught about 30 fish with his fly rod in a little hole at the inlet of Lower Red Castle. And it was the perfect spot for some pictures as well. We even kept a few for dinner that night. It was yummy!
Bonus Red Castle Lakes tips
Aside from the ideas above, here’s some other helpful tips to help you on your next trip to Red Castle Lakes.
- Visit in August when the mosquitoes are at a minimal
- Eat at Jody’s Diner in Evanston for a hearty breakfast before your hike.
- Use a gravity water filter so you don’t have to pack any water. There are plenty of water sources along the trail.
- Plan your trip earlier in the week to avoid weekend crowds.
- Pack a hammock with a mosquito net. You’ll sleep much better at night.
- Avoid camping at Upper Red Castle. It’s above the tree line and unprotected.
- Bring rain gear. It rains almost every afternoon.
- Wear a swim suit under your clothes so you can cool off in a river or lake along the way.
What other tips do you have for backpacking into Red Castle? Leave your comments below.
Related link: Three spectacular family-friendly hikes in Escalante