High Creek Canyon, Cache County, Utah
Large Creek, Shady Forest, Huge Meadows, Cherry Peak, Several Waterfalls
11.54 miles round trip to the Cherry Peak ridge
Spring, Summer, Fall
First half has lots of shade, second half is in the open
Well traveled single track
At trail head
Yes. There is open camping on the trail at least 200 feet from any water. There is also a very nice forest service campground before you reach the parking area.
Parking Lot:41.97431N, 111.70912W
Cherry Peak Ridge:41.92087N, 111.68214W
High Creek Canyon is in my opinion by far the best hike in Cache County and all of Northern Utah. The entire trail is in the heart of the Mount Naomi Wilderness Area. It is one half of the Mount Naomi Peak National Recreation Trail, with the other half ending at Tony Grove Lake. The trail head is located above Cove, Utah on the border of Utah and Idaho. The scenery here doesn’t take a back seat to anywhere and the hike provides a lot of variety as it climbs through several mountain zones ending on a ridge between Cherry Peak, and Naomi Peak. You can also easily head to and summit either peak. A favorite hike of mine is to make a long shuttle and start at Tony Grove and end at High Creek. There are three different trails the start at the trail head. The North Fork Trail is not what will be covered here but is another great trail that takes you to Doubletop Mountain. The main route covered here is technically the South Fork but is just called the High Creek Trail. Soon after beginning on this trail the Middle Fork Trail will also break off. If you are ever confused just stick to the south. It really isn’t very hard to navigate but there are a few options. High Creek is by far the most heavily used but is still much less used than the popular Logan Canyon trails which is fine by me. You will know you took the right trail from the parking lot when you see the Mount Naomi National Recreation Trail sign.
The first couple miles here are shaded and full of flowers. If you are careful you should be able to avoid getting your feet wet.
You will always be close to High Creek which is beautiful and is a raging torrent in the spring.
You will soon see the Middle Fork Trail go off to the left. There is a large cascade worth seeing a couple miles up this trail if you have the energy.
There are several crude bridges that help you keep your feet dry. Be sure to only have one at a time on the bridges because they are getting fairly old.
The trail will pass through several beautiful aspen groves.
At the very end of the shaded section you will come to some small abandoned beaver ponds. Up to this point the trail has steadily climbed over 1000 feet. After the ponds the trail gets very steep. Many stop in the meadows after the ponds because it can be very strenuous.
After the ponds you will pass through a series of very large and open meadows with waterfalls seen all over the place. Be sure to keep your eyes out for Moose since they are common in this area. This is the biggest waterfall visible off in the distance.
From these meadows you get amazing views of the huge Cherry Peak which rises 2500 feet above the beaver ponds. Its north face is a very impressive set of cliffs several hundred feet high. Pictures never do, but this hike in particular they really can’t do it any justice.
Soon there will be a 25 foot waterfall right on the trail that is worth a couple minutes to rest. (Most of these waterfalls really die off in the fall so go early if you want to see them. These were all taken the last week of June.)
As you circle around Cherry Peak the views change a lot of the surrounding cliffs and this area is very steep. Prepare to pound your knees coming down.
Soon you will see an unnamed peak high above you. The lake is located on a shelf below this peak. As you can see there are more waterfalls everywhere and always the beautiful sound of running water.
The trail gets even steeper from here as you climb the shelf toward the lake.
Be sure to look behind you at the meadows you just climbed through.
We stopped many times to take photos of the gorgeous valley.
The trail will switchback up the shelf on the final ascent to the lake.
Once on top of the shelf you can see the trail you just climbed winding far below you.
High Creek Lake is a gorgeous spot to relax for a while and is far less crowded than the more popular Tony Grove, and White Pine Lakes nearby. It is also MUCH harder to get to but the views are worth it. Don’t waste your time with a fishing pole. There are no fish but there are many salamanders. My favorite pictures are taken from the north end. The last week of June still had plenty of snow in these higher reaches.
There is a very interesting tree at the lake that is a great place to sit for lunch.
Here are the views from the south end of the lake.
Many people will turn around here but it is worth your time to continue on to the ridge above the south end of the lake. Its another 200 foot climb but gives awesome views of the east side of Cherry Peak. Once at the ridge you get great views of the huge cliffs above High Creek Lake.
You can continue all the way to Naomi Peak and Tony Grove from here but at least take the time to see Cherry Peak before turning around.
You can easily summit Cherry Peak from here or return the way you came unless you have set up a shuttle at Tony Grove Lake. If you take that way make sure to take the very short detour to Naomi Peak which is the highest point in the Bear River Range. Cherry Peak is the 3rd highest officially named and fourth highest unofficial peak in the range. If you go to Cherry Peak you can also set up a shuttle and finish through Cherry Creek Canyon ending at the Cherry Peak Ski Resort.
This is by far my favorite area in Northern Utah. It is gorgeous with lots of variety. Its certainly not easy but is well worth the effort to experience this little used wilderness area.