UHT—Orienteering on the trail

If you’re not familiar with the Unita Highline Trail (UHT), it’s a footpath that follows the ridgeline of the High Uintas Mountains in northeastern Utah. Learn more about why I chose this trail.

By all accounts, the UHT is challenging to navigate. Most of the trail is above the tree line. Sometimes there is an obvious footpath to follow. Other times there are cairns to point the way. But it’s nothing like the well-trafficked, frequently blazed Appalachian Trail. And after downloading the GPS tracks of other UHT hikers, it’s apparent that people view the High Unitas as a choose your own adventure type of hike.

I’m traveling with someone who has never been on a deep wilderness backpacking trip of this sort and she is absolutely terrified of getting lost. I can get a little obsessive about trip planning, so we’re a good fit. If you’ve followed any of my adventures, you’ll know that I like to put together GPS maps of my trips that I can reference in the backcountry. I have an Android phone, so I use Google’s MyMaps app. I also use the AllTrails app for day hikes, but I usually prefer to export the GPX file (a list of map points) into my own customizable map. These maps work whether there is a cell signal or not. They even work when my phone is in airplane mode to save battery power.

When I hiked the John Muir Trail last year, I didn’t have to create my own map. Because that trail is so popular, there are apps you can buy and download to your phone that indicate the trail, water sources, campsites, etc. Those apps are updated regularly and are better than anything I can create with old data. But since there’s so little out there about the UHT, I made my own GPS map as usual.

What I’m taking with me

I’ll be taking two maps with me on my hike of the Uinta Highline Trail in Utah. I typically use paper maps for campsite planning and elevation preparation. I use GPS maps for real-time navigation.

I’m only doing the westernmost 65 miles of the trail from Chepeta Lake to Hayden Pass. This comprises the High Uintas section of the Highline Trail, which means I can get by with only one map—Trails Illustrated #711. If you’re doing the whole 102-mile trail, you’ll also need to buy Trails Illustrated #704: Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.

High Uintas Wilderness Map (Map)

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Suunto MC-2 /360/D/CM/IN/NH Compass (Electronics)

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If you use Google’s MyMaps app (Android-only), then feel free to clone this GPS map. If you use another app, feel free to export the GPX/KML data and import it into the app of your choice.

Uinta Highline Trail GPS map

This map actually features two data sets—a Main UHT Map and an Emergency Map. The Main UHT Map is composed of trails, points of interest, campsites, and mountain passes. The Emergency Map features bailout points, alternative paths, and places to find help in a worst-case scenario.

Note that the eastern end of the trail is a little farther than where we’re starting. The way our daily mileage works out, it makes more sense for us to start at the Chepeta Lake trailhead than the Leidy Peak trailhead. If we had another day, I would have started at Leidy Peak instead. The travel logistics are much easier from there.

After my hike, I’ll post a review with my impressions from these orienteering resources.

I’m the C.C. in C.C. Hikes. I’m a strategic marketer by day, a bad guitarist by night, and an avid weekend explorer. I built this site to log my travels to nearby parks, trails, and attractions. You’re welcome to follow along. Use my travelog to discover fun places to visit and then use my interactive map to navigate there.

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