The Guide to Little Cottonwood Canyon Hikes

Best Hikes in Little Cottonwood Canyon

The Guide to Little Cottonwood Canyon Hikes

Little Cottonwood Canyon hikes are perfect for everyone, no matter your hiking experience. Nestled in the Wasatch Mountains, this spot has trails that range from easy walks to challenging treks. The scenery is amazing, with towering peaks and lush forests, making every hike a feast for the eyes. It’s also a great place to get away from the daily grind and enjoy some peace and quiet. Whether you’re out for a casual stroll or looking for a tougher hike, Little Cottonwood Canyon has something for you. Let’s dive into what makes this canyon such an awesome hiking destination.

Best Little Cottonwood Canyon Hikes 

1. Cecret Lake Trail 

Cecret Lake Trail is a favorite for many, thanks to its relatively short distance and incredible scenery. The hike is about 1.8 miles round trip and is moderately difficult, making it suitable for families and beginners who are up for a bit of a challenge. The trail winds through Albion Basin, known for its stunning wildflower displays in mid-summer. The lake itself, with its crystal-clear waters, offers a serene spot for a picnic or just to enjoy the incredible views. The best time to visit is mid-summer to early fall when wildflowers blanket the area and the weather is perfect. Winter turns this trail into a snowy wonderland, ideal for snowshoeing. 

How to Find It: 

The trailhead is located at the Albion Basin Campground, which you can reach by driving up Little Cottonwood Canyon Road (UT-210) to the town of Alta. Continue through Alta, following the signs for Albion Basin. There is a small parking area at the campground, but it can fill up quickly, so arriving early is recommended. 

Places to Stay Nearby: 

For a convenient stay, consider the Alta Lodge or Snowbird Resort. Both offer comfortable accommodations and easy access to the trailhead. Alta Lodge provides a cozy, historic mountain lodge experience with excellent dining options. Snowbird Resort offers various lodging choices, from 

standard rooms to luxury suites, along with amenities like spas, restaurants, and shops.

2. Little Cottonwood Trail 

The Little Cottonwood Trail is perfect for those looking for a little longer hike. Explore this 5.4-mile out-and-back trail near Sandy. It’s a moderately challenging route that typically takes around 2 and a half hours to complete. This trail is popular for hiking, mountain biking, and snowshoeing, so expect to see other outdoor enthusiasts along the way. The best time to visit is from May through October. Please note that dogs aren’t allowed on this trail, so you’ll need to leave your pets at home this time. 

How to Find It: 

The trailhead is located near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon. To get there, drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon Road (UT-210) from Sandy. The trail starts near the Temple Quarry Trailhead, which has a parking area and informational signs about the history of the area. 

Places to Stay Nearby: 

There are plenty of places to stay nearby, including lodges in Alta and Snowbird. The Cliff Lodge at Snowbird is a great choice, offering beautiful mountain views and easy access to hiking trails. Alternatively, the Inn at Snowbird provides a cozy, more intimate lodging experience with great amenities and dining options. 

3. Red Pine Lake Trail 

Red Pine Lake Trail offers a more challenging hike, perfect for those looking to push their limits. This hike is about 7.7 miles round trip and climbs steadily through beautiful forested areas and meadows, offering rewarding views of Red Pine Lake at the end. The best times to hike this trail are summer and early fall when the weather is mild and the trail is clear. In winter, the trail is accessible for snowshoeing, providing a different but equally beautiful experience. 

How to Find It: 

The trailhead is located at the White Pine Trailhead parking area. Drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon Road (UT-210) and look for the signed trailhead parking area on the right side of the road. There is ample parking, but it can get busy on weekends and holidays.

Places to Stay Nearby: 

For lodging, you can stay in Sandy or find a cozy spot in the canyon. The Hyatt House Salt Lake City/Sandy offers comfortable accommodations with amenities like free breakfast and an outdoor pool. If you prefer to stay closer to the canyon, the Snowpine Lodge in Alta offers luxurious rooms and suites, a full-service spa, and easy access to trailheads. 

4. White Pine Lake Trail 

White Pine Lake Trail is another must-visit for more experienced hikers. This trail is 10.2 miles round trip and features a significant elevation gain, making it more on the strenuous side. The payoff is the stunning White Pine Lake, which makes it all worth it. Summer to early fall is ideal for this hike, as the trail is usually clear of snow. Winter adventurers can snowshoe here as well as most of the nearby trails. 

How to Find It: 

Starting from the same trailhead as Red Pine Lake, the White Pine Lake Trail begins at the White Pine Trailhead parking area. Drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon Road (UT-210) and look for the signed trailhead parking area on the right side of the road. Follow the signs for White Pine Lake from the parking area. 

Places to Stay Nearby: 

For places to stay, consider the nearby lodges in Snowbird or the city of Sandy. The Lodge at Snowbird offers comfortable rooms with great views and easy access to dining and shopping. In Sandy, the Hilton Garden Inn provides modern accommodations with amenities like an indoor pool and on-site dining, making it a convenient base for all the surrounding trails.

5. Catherine’s Pass 

Catherine’s Pass is a great hike for those looking for amazing views without too much difficulty. Starting at the Albion Basin Campground, this 3.4-mile round-trip hike is perfect for summer and early fall when the wildflowers are blooming and the weather is comfortable. Plan on it taking around 2-3 hours from start to finish. The trail has a steady climb, giving you awesome panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. In winter, it turns into a peaceful snowshoeing trail. 

How to Find It: 

As mentioned above, the trailhead is located at the Albion Basin Campground. Drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon Road (UT-210) to Alta, then continue through Alta and follow the signs for Albion Basin. There’s a parking area at the campground, but it can get crowded, so it’s best to show up early. 

Places to Stay Nearby: 

You can stay at the Alta Lodge or Snowbird Resort, both offering easy access to the trailhead. 

6. Lake Blanche Trail 

Lake Blanche Trail is a tough but super rewarding hike, perfect for those who love a good challenge. This trail is around 7 miles round trip and has a significant elevation gain, so it’s best for experienced hikers. It usually takes about 4 to 5 hours to complete. The best time to go is from late spring to early fall when the weather is nice, and the trail is clear. If you’re into winter activities, this trail is also great for snowshoeing, giving you a unique view of the stunning landscape. Just be prepared for a workout and bring plenty of water and snacks! 

How to Find It: 

The trailhead is located at the Mill B South Fork parking area in Big Cottonwood Canyon, just a short drive from Little Cottonwood Canyon. Drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon Road (UT-190) and look for the signed trailhead parking area on the right side of the road. The trail begins at the far end of the parking area. 

Places to Stay Nearby: 

Nearby accommodations include lodges in Brighton and Solitude, or you can stay in Salt Lake City for more options. The Silver Fork Lodge & Restaurant in Brighton offers a cozy mountain retreat with rustic charm and great dining. 

The Guide to Little Cottonwood Canyon Hikes Conclusion 

Hiking in Little Cottonwood Canyon has a little something for everyone, whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned adventurer. The trails are perfect for getting away from it all and soaking in some amazing views.

Before you head out, make sure you’re geared up. At General Army Navy Outdoor, we’ve got everything you need for hiking, camping, and all your outdoor adventures. Stop by or shop our store online to get ready to hit the trails!

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