Boulder Hopping in the Headwaters of the Weber River

November 7, 2016

Trip details at

More photos at

I’d been planning this trip for a while and originally intended it to be a 3 day hike but work again prevented any overnight trips. Despite the lateness of the season the weather was holding and I decided to try the hike anyway but skip the camping and fishing. I suppose that was for the best because doing this hike with 2 days of camping gear would have been really dangerous.

My planned route

It started out great. I made Clyde Lake in about 45 minutes. Dževad and I camped here in the Spring and it’s a lovely place. It was totally deserted and there was still a dusting of snow from the last storm. Despite the lateness of the season there was still a touch of fall color left up here.

Clyde Lake and the West side of Notch Mountain

The trail peters out not much farther along, in the Three Divide Lakes area. This whole area is very intersting geologically and after leaving the trail behind you cross a series of what seem to be gouged out troughs. Each is like a miniature valley though some are pretty flat. I’m not sure of the forces at work here but they make you feel like a gnat hiking across a washboard.

One of several latreral ‘valleys’ between Three Lakes and Hidden Lake

This terrain is pretty easy to navigate despite there being no trail and within another hour I arrived at Hidden Lake. This is a nice spot off the beaten track but it’s not exactly a secret despite being “hidden”. During the Summer season it seems like I always run into folks out here; a bit unusual for somewhere with no actual trail leading into it.

Hidden Lake

I had made a trip out here last year to sample the fishing but hadn’t gone any farther. Between this point and Abe’s Lake it was all trailless and unexplored for me. My plan was basically to hug the Southwestern edge of Notch Mountain until I reached the Northwestern end and drop into Abe’s Lake.

The trail descends rapidly from Hidden Lake into the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Weber River. The drainage itself is in a steep valley but I stayed up on the bench above and headed North around the end of Notch Mountain. This is about the point where I discovered that the Northeast side of Notch Mountain has a totally different character than the side I’d just been on. The major feature here can be described in one word : “boulders”.

Wow – lots of boulders

Sooo many boulders!

It went on pretty much like this for about another .75 miles into Abe’s Lake. This lake is not much to get excited about. I could see some fish here but nothing that made it worth what I’d had to go through to get here. I understand that there is actually a trail into the lake from the Weber drainage but honestly I don’t feel the need to come back.


Abe’s Lake – didn’t really find it worthwhile

To make matters worse, I began to realize that the boulders continued for the next leg of my route. It was a really tough slog and almost entirely boulder hopping for the next mile. By this point I’d made the saddle where I had to choose whether to continue on my planned route to Meadow lake where I could pick up the trail that would lead back to Ibantik late and out through the Notch or shoot straight across the depression in front of me and pick up the trail near Lovenia lake. It was only about 2 PM but I saw no relief from the boulder hopping in the direction of Meadow Lake, which was another mile off. The last mile of boulder hopping had taken more than an hour and I’d add another mile back by continuing in that direction so I elected to cut straight across. After all, it’s nearly dark here at 5 PM this time of year.

It took less than an hour to get across the depression and pick up the Notch Mountain trail – in hindsight it was definitely a good call. I made the Notch itself by 3 PM and took a quick rest and much needed coffee break. A gorgeous place to recharge.

Coffee Break in the Notch

The final section back to the trailhead is pretty much all downhill and well known to me. I made great time back and was much the wiser for having made this trip. It’s not that being off the trail is a bad thing, but I did learn that Google Earth is a wonderful tool for planning trips like this. The boulder fields I crossed are clearly visible and perhaps I would have been more careful in planning this trip had I used it before going instead of after!

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