Forest Lake

Highland, Utah (Utah County)
Last Updated: 05/31/2018
4/5 (1 review)
Nearby Trails
Status: Seasonal Closure
Typically Open: 05/21 - 11/15
Difficulty: 3-4
Length: 1.8 miles
Highest Elevation: 8500 feet
Duration: About 1 hour
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Highland
Nearest Town w/ Services: Highland
Official Road Name: 111
Management Agency: Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
District: Pleasant Grove Ranger District
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Highlight: Forest Lake

This is an awesome spur off of Lower Mill Canyon that takes you away from the crowd and gives you some fun on the rocks. The trail weaves through the pine forest up to about 10,000 feet and into the middle of an aspen forest surrounding Forest Lake. Most of the trail is shaded and there are a few spots where mud is usually present. With its rock gardens and mud pits, it will keep people of all skill levels and vehicles capabilities entertained through this short trail. This is also a great trail to camp along since you will be off of the busy trail, however, there can still be a fair amount of traffic on warm summer weekends. There is a large amount of wildlife present if you keep your eyes open, and once at the top, can be a very peaceful spot to relax.


Route Information

Technical Rating: (3-4)

Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves but rocks to 9". Water crossings usually less than hub deep. Passable mud. Grades moderate, up to 15 degrees. Side hill moderate up to 15 degrees. 4WD under most conditions. No width problems, vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.

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This forest trail is mostly dirt with rocks scattered about. Many of the rocks shift with each passing weekend of wheelers rolling their way through. In the dry summer heat, it can be very dusty. After a rainstorm, there will be mud puddles present that you must go through. Most of this trail remains in the shade. All routes in the Pleasant Grove Ranger District that hate a gate will close seasonally (weather permitting). This route is accessed by a trail with a gate that usually closes in November sometime and reopens when the snow has mostly disappeared (anywhere from late April-June).
Please note - it is ILLEGAL to drive into the lake and into any puddles or pits around it! Anybody caught doing damage will face fines! Please keep to the well-packed trail that goes TO the lake only. Also, this trail is extremely popular so be cautious around blind corners.

Seasonal Information

Spring:Trail remains closed until snowmelt is mostly gone and trail is dry.
Summer:Trail is usually dry with occasional mud pits after rain storms. This is the best time of year to run this trail.
Fall:Trail is usually dry. This is also a nice time of year to run this trail.
Winter:Trail closes sometime around November when the snow starts sticking.


1. Trailhead

The trailhead is a turnoff from Lower Mill Canyon directly through a creek. The creek is usually passable, but during the spring when the trail first opens the water will be moving quickly. The majority of the year, it is a crystal clear stream around 6-8 inches deep.

2. Informational Board (0.05 mi)

The informational board is only a few hundred feet from the start, showing a map, camping info, fire info, and a short bio about the area. There is just a small pull out here and if you haven't already, lock in your hubs and get into 4 low.

3. First Rock Pile (0.05 mi)

This rock pile is probably among the hardest of the trail. You have a couple of different options to decide how large of rocks you wish to go over. If you take it far left, you will have one big rock on the driver's side that will tip you pretty good, while your passenger side is going up and down constantly over medium sized rocks (12-16"). If you take one of the lines through the middle or right, you will have to be sure to keep tires on the high points. Just about any vehicle will scrape something here if you don't stay high.

4. Rock Garden (0.1 mi)

The rock garden is large and has anywhere from a 2 to a 6 difficulty. The lines are in no particular order but the easiest route is to swing around to trail right and the hardest is to go over the main big rock, trail center, that is about 2 feet tall, but has no ramp or even a vertical face. It is strictly a shelf at 24 inches. Lockers help greatly but are not needed if you are good with the skinny pedal.

5. Second Rock Garden (0.2 mi)

The next rock garden is more or less stretched out over the next quarter mile. There are some different lines you can choose to take or not, but the best part is the perfect poser rock near the end of this second garden. You can't miss it slightly right of trail center.

6. Campsite (0.3 mi)

This is the largest of the campsites along the trail before the lake. It can hold 3-5 rigs and tents. The campsite will be on the right.

7. Big Rock (0.7 mi)

This is a fun little body twister. If you angle your vehicle right, you can get some pretty good flex out of this little obstacle. There is no bypass.

8. Mud Pits (1.6 mi)

Along the trail, you may encounter mud pits. Most disappear quickly but this one usually sticks around for a while. However, it is still only around a few days out of the season, but notable when present. There is a smaller hole followed by a run of about 50 feet. The driver's side is a bit lower than the passenger side so you will tip a little bit, but nothing to worry about. People have made a bypass road above it, but it can be very tippy and if wet, very dangerous. This pit can be anywhere from 1-3 feet deep. Fortunately, the mud in the run is not very sticky.

9. Second Informational Board (1.8 mi)

This informational board has the same information as the board near the trailhead. Basic rules apply: If its too hot to touch, its too hot to leave, clean up after yourself, respect the land, and camp 200+ feet from the water.

10. End (2 mi)

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It might not be a fresh and crystal clear lake, but the air around it is cooling on a hot day, and it is surrounded by beautiful green aspens. Camping up here is about as quiet as you can get and you can see almost every start in the sky. Wildlife also runs around quite often. Keep in mind no vehicles are allowed to drive in the lake, and you must camp at least 200 feet from the water. Also, note the area that has been blocked off by logs. This area is strictly off limits to motorized vehicles.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 40.524055, -111.608269

Starting Point: Alpine, Utah

Follow UT 92 east up the canyon until the intersection with UT 144. Continue on UT 144 for 2.5 miles until you pass Tibble Fork Reservoir. After the parking lot by the lake, the road will U-turn uphill to the left, or you can continue straight to the dirt parking lot. This is the air down lot and the trailhead for Lower Mill Canyon. You must then do the first 4 miles of Lower Mill Canyon to reach the trailhead to Forest Lake


There is a large amount of camping on this trail. At Forest Lake, you can find quite a few spots to settle down, however, you must be at least 200 feet away from any water source. Along the trail, there are a few spots to camp that are nice and shaded, but you will likely have people rolling by at any hour. You can also camp at any of the sites around this network of trails and run this trail in a few hours. Lodging is available down the canyon in Pleasant Grove, Highland or Alpine.
Camping: Forest Lake

Writer Information

TJ Bosworth

Crew Leader - Utah
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Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, he's only been off-roading since he was 16 but fell in love immediately. He attended college in Denver for Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management and wheeled in Colorado for 4 years, but ended up moving back home to Salt Lake City. He currently works in an off-road shop and spends his free time doing anything he can to stay busy, which is usually working on his jeep or playing music. Outside of off-roading, he is an avid whitewater rafter and outdoor cook. Camping at least every other weekend in any season is a normal year. The further from civilization, the better. Bring on the memories!


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Trail Reviews (3)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
This is a fun trail for sure. The close proximity to Salt Lake makes it an easy day run, however, that also makes it way to popular. If you like to wheel with no one around, this is not the trail for you. This area gets massive crowds, but still fun none the less.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Closed
Offroaded on:
***FIRE RESTRICTION*** All campgrounds and trails in American Fork Canyon have been evacuated and are closed until further notice. Fire during in steep terrain at the intersection of Major Evans Gulch and the North Fork of the canyon. Keep out of the area. Also, any drones in the area will be taken down immediately. Drones are strictly prohibited within any area of a fire. Utah law states fines and prison time.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I headed up in the early morning on a Sunday to avoid the rush. It was fairly chilly until about 9 A.M. as there was still frost over the shaded part. The first rocky part seems to have been dug out a fair bit more, proving a bigger challenge of not getting high centered with such a scattered pattern. Both of the rock gardens are about the same. The rock in the middle of the trail has been dug around making it a little bit more difficult to keep all 4 on the ground. Even though the trails have only been open for a few weeks, the trail was all dry including the run. The lake is full and the day was beautiful!