Reviews: Long Lake, Half Moon Campground, and Soda Lake

Reviews: Long Lake, Half Moon Campground, and Soda Lake

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➻ Quick Facts for Long Lake


  • Date of Trip: 28 Jun 2019
  • Notable Features: Long Lake
  • Total Miles: ~5.0
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: +/-1527′
  • Elevation Min, Max: 7764, 9307
  • General Route: Long Lake Trail
  • GaiaGPS Page

⤷ Intro


Yue texted me and asked if I’d like to go camping with her and Beatriz some weekend. I love spending time with Yue, so of course I wanted to. It also wasn’t hiking season yet due to all of the snow, so all the better. We decided to spend time together 28-30 June and to make our camp at Half Moon Lake campground, which is cheaper than Fremont Lake Campground and a bit quieter.

I arrived earlier than the girls and selected site number 2 at the campground and set up a tent. Yue texted me to let me know that Beatriz might not arrive until the next day, as she was doing some sort of business with a vehicle over in Idaho. She asked if we might be able to hike instead of hanging out once she got there, and that sounded good to me. Long Lake was really our best option.

Yue arrived and we got into my Jeep, then went on up to the Long Lake parking lot. I’ve hiked this trail and don’t care for it, but I care for my friend Yue, so it was time well spent to cover this old ground.


⤑ Hiking Long Lake + Rating


There was a little bit of snow near the trailhead, but the day was clear and in the lower 70s. The hike down says “2” miles at the trailhead, to which someone has helpfully engraved “.5” afterward. The 2.5 number is accurate, as the total trip showed 5.0 miles exactly. The trail descends down to a creek, and then you’re waterless for the next 2.25 miles until you reach the lake, going steeply downhill with no good views, stuck in an ugly forest.

On the way down, Yue and I played some lateral thinking puzzles (including one about Air Force One thanks to the Futility Closet Podcast) and had some great conversation—of course, conversation with her always is. She’s one of the brightest, funniest people I know, and has deep, philosophical thoughts.

We arrived at the lake in an hour and saw Boy Scouts, which meant that I’d seen Boy Scouts 100% of the time I’ve been there. I think it’s the Mormon version of the Boy Scouts, though…pretty sure that they had some sort of split at some point. The wind was insane. I tried fishing while Yue took a…nap thing on a rock. She was sprayed by the waves, sadly for her. I caught no fish, and we decided to pack up and head to camp.

The trip back up took us about an hour and twenty minutes. Yue is a little, blazing Peruvian going uphill! She was leaving me behind. I almost made a comment about the view. But seriously, she’s got a ton of hustle in her. I also explained to her what wild onions are!

Long Lake Trail Rating: ⭐⭐ ☆ ☆ ☆   (2 stars)

  •  My scientific rating system. I didn’t like this hike, though I love spending time with my friend Yue. It’s ugly and dull without a payoff. Yue has probably been my best friend since 2016, though. (And my overall best friend ever.)
  • Beauty. Not to be found here.
  • Camping spots. There are some down at the lake, but it’s really not a good place to camp, nor is there any reason to camp there.
  • Crowds. No. You might see some scouts.
  • Difficulty. Expect a strenuous uphill battle on the way back, but it’s not actually hard…just tedious and ugly, so you feel bad and want to die.
  • Fishing. I’ve never caught anything, but the weather was terrible for fishing.
  • History. None.

⤑ Halfmoon Campground + Rating


Yue and I got back to camp around 6:00, as I stopped and got firewood from the cuts on the way down. I’d purchased camp foods, thinking that the girls might just want to eat burgers, potato salad, and other easy fare. (As I’d find out later on, they’re a bit more enthusiastic about skirt steak.) With Beatriz not around, Yue and I had burgers with some cheese and jalapenos, and listened to EDM from my portable speaker, which we attached to a tree. We kept it at a low volume so that we wouldn’t disturb others. Yue’s got great taste in seemingly everything! Alan Walker’s “Ignite” was just amazing. I asked Yue to help me set up the other tent, but she didn’t want to sleep alone, and asked me to please share a tent. Fair enough!

Now some comments on the actual camping site. It’s in a pleasant location, with plenty of trees, but most of the places were pre-booked. We got a large, pull-through site since we had three vehicles. A couple of ladies were not happy with us, as they had to use a back-in site for their 5th wheel…but it wouldn’t have had room for our three vehicles, and was first-come, first-serve.

The fire-pit was broken; we had to scavenge parts from other sites. The best sites are close to the water, and are pre-booking sites, so be aware of that. There’s a ton of vegetation, so most neighbors are pretty hidden, which is nice. The fees for this place are about to go up to twice as much, despite the fact that the place isn’t really maintained. This seems to be true across the board. With that said, it’s a lot less packed, and a lot quieter than across the hill at Fremont Lake Campground. It’s also close to the Half Moon Lodge.

We had a great night, despite the fact that spot 2 isn’t my favorite. The thing has evergreen trees that shed needles and sap like mad, while some of the other sites have deciduous trees which aren’t given to such maladies. The restroom was about 200 feet away, and it wasn’t much trafficked. There’s no cell service at this location, so be aware of that .

The next day, Yue and I went kayaking in the inflatable kayak to see how it was; the put-in is located in the actual campground, at least for kayaks, via a nice foot-path, so that was incredible convenient. The inflatable kayak is TERRIBLE. I caught a suckerfish, but that was it. We then went into town and got some drinks that were on sale, so that we wouldn’t only have water, and Yue attended to some phone calls. I went and checked out Sandy Beach while the girls did…whatever.

Sandy Beach, Pinedale
Sandy Beach

Beatriz eventually showed up, and I set up my tent so that the girls could share their own. We all ate and chatted, then went fishing, as the pier is just a 5-minute walk up the road. I also tried my hand with tenkara on the surface, given that the wind died down, but had no luck.

The South Americans beating things with my 4-lb sledge and my rock hammer, which I always keep handy.

The next morning, the three of us ate at the Wrangler Cafe. The Mexican sever was apparently abrupt, but I don’t speak Spanish and couldn’t tell. The girls vamoosed and I went up to Willow Lake, then tried road 753 to Spring Creek Park Trailhead. I was the only vehicle at the trailhead, and it was little wonder, as it’s not a highly-trafficked trail, and the road to get there is horrendous. I took road 753G back to Soda Lake, and that was even worse. There were interesting educational signs out in the wilderness, for some reason.

Half Moon Campground Rating:

⭐⭐  ⭐  ☆ ☆   (3 stars)

  •  My scientific rating system. It applies a bit to campgrounds, right?
  • Beauty. Parts of it are filled with picturesque aspen trees. You can tell they’re aspens because of the way they are.
  • Camping spots. The spots are run down, but most are fairly well separated.
  • Crowds. Not compared to Fremont. It was quiet.
  • Fishing. Not the best, but people still catch good ones.

⤑ Kayaking Soda Lake


Soda Lake has its name for obvious reasons (not Coca Cola) and was quite pretty, though storms kept moving through, and the temperature was in the 50s. The weather was too bad for me to get any good fishing done from my kayak, but I saw plenty of people hunkering down, waiting on it to get better. It’s a pretty area, so I plan on returning. I can’t review it much, but will say that it has some nice views from a boat.

I don’t have enough information to offer an informed opinion yet, so I’ll just leave you with the pictures.

With love, always,

My friendly signature.

—Luke


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