Bourbon Lake

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Bourbon Lake

We love camping and hiking on the Mirror Lake Highway, and this week we found a new hike for our family called Bourbon Lake. We would rate this hike as moderate not because of the 2.6 mile RT distance, but because it is pretty steep.


The hike runs out and back to a beautiful lake starting from mile marker 39 at the large pullout right across from Sulphur Campground. The good news about this hike is that it is downhill all the way back to the car. You can figure out the bad news yourself.

You will see this sign at the parking lot.
You will see this sign at the parking lot.

The trail to Bourbon Lake begins climbing almost immediately, as switchbacks slowly ascend the steep hillside. After about a quarter of a mile, a large cascade appears on the left side of the trail. If would be a stretch to call this a waterfall, but it is a nice gentle cascade that is worth stopping for a look. Though you’ll walk away from this creek, you’ll see it several more times.

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Our boys were super excited to see this “waterfall.”
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There were lots of different wildflowers to see on this trail.
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The trail is sometimes out in the open like this and other times in the trees.
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There are times you will be hiking in the shade, but plenty of sun, too.

The climb continues, though it isn’t so steep, for another half mile where you reach the ridge line. Unfortunately, there is a further ridge to reach, but you’ll have a little respite as the trail flattens out before the final climb. This last section of the trail is the steepest, though it is only about 200 yards. At this altitude, you’ll need to stop to catch your breath. From the top of the hill, there is only a gentle walk over to the lake.
We didn’t see a soul at Bourbon Lake nor along the trail on the way to the lake, and it was very peaceful and nice. The lake is quite large, and fish were rolling on the surface and sometimes jumping right out of the water. We dipped our feet for awhile, and watched a few woodpeckers in the beautiful alpine forest.

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There is one junction, so head right when you see this sign. The trail to the left just walks down to the cascade.
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The switchbacks help make the climb a little less steep at first.
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You’ll come to one small water crossing.
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There are so many colors of wildflowers. I took lots of pictures but nothing can show how beautiful they are in person.
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This nice green open area is almost a meadow before the steep climb.
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The last climb is very steep. But it isn’t far!
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And you will come up the hill and see this beautiful lake!

This lake got it’s name because the water is the color of Bourbon. Despite being a rusty brown color, you could still see through the clear water pretty well. And although it was late July, the water was freezing and we could barely keep them in for more than a few minutes.

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The water really looks like Bourbon.
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After that steep climb, putting our feet in felt really nice!
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The lake area is gorgeous.

You can’t walk around Bourbon Lake very easily since there is a mountain on one side, but we walked the edge as much as we could and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the high Uintahs. And the hike back to the car was a nice downhill walk, but be careful at the steep climb with little ones.

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The landscape by Bourbon lake is beautiful.
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We enjoyed spending the morning at this lake. It was so peaceful.

There are definitely easier hikes along the Mirror Lake Highway (we have a whole list here), but if you’re ready to do something a bit more challenging, and if you’d like some solitude, try Bourbon Lake.

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