There’s a couple way to go this mountain. There’s the popular route, which I will explain, as well as the way I decided to take. You can also cut down on this hike by parking at Albion Basin, which I will explain in the ‘Need To Know” section later on. For now, let’s get into the beta! Starting from the Alta Base at the Albion Meadows trailhead, the hike is approximately 5.6 miles roundtrip. It features a total elevation change of 2,335 feet, and is rated as moderate. This trail is pretty sun exposed, so choose your time to hike this wisely. The trail gets steeper as you ascend through Alta; the last 0.3 miles ramps up the steepness!
This route takes you from the base of Alta near the Snowpine Lodge, and traverses up the mountain, past Cecret Lake, and on towards Sugarloaf Peak. The elevation change here is a total of 2,335 feet, so it’s quite the day! You can take an alternate route up if you’d like; if you’re looking at Sugarloaf from Cecret Lake, take the trail to the left, up towards Devil’s Castle. Once you get to the pass after many steep switchbacks, take a right, and head up a large boulder filed towards the summit.
Need to Know
If you want a shorter hike than the one I described, you can park up at the Albion Basin Campground. There is a $10 fee to drive the dirt road to the campground, and it cuts off about 2.4 miles of your hike. This pay be preferred among people who are looking for an easy summit.
No matter where you start, this trail is *exposed* in multiple ways. There is little-to-no shade on most of the hike, especially once you traverse past Cecret Lake. If you take the path up towards Devil’s Castle, you are susceptible to falling rock. Never hike this trail in the early spring season when snow is still present unless you are carrying the proper gear and assuming the risk. Rockfall due to deteriorating snow is common, and one of the reasons I didn’t attempt this until July.
Hiking poles are definitely recommended, but not required. I’ve done this twice: one with poles, and one without. I would bring them along if you have them. They will not sandbag you!
Justin’s Path to Sugarloaf
Instead of giving my suggestion, I’ll discuss the path I took, and perhaps recommend you do this, too! My total mileage of hiking this trail ended up being 8.31 miles. I decided to hike from the base of Alta, up to Cecret Lake. Then, I took the trail to Devil’s Castle and Sugarloaf Pass, then headed west (right) up to Sugarloaf. From there, I took a rest on top of Sugarloaf, ate some food, and continued down heading west, forming a loop.
I got to the turnoff to head directly back to Cecret Lake, and instead of turning right, headed straight to keep on Sugarloaf Pass Road. I followed this cat-track all the way to Alf’s Restaurant, which is mid-mountain at Alta, and then met up with my Albion Meadows trail to continue to my car.
This way was the best in my opinion, since I got to see lots of wildflowers on the way up and down. Instead of doing a full out-and-back trail, I turned it into a loop trail, which is more scenic in my opinion! I also largely did not want to head back down the Devil’s Castle/Sugarloaf Pass trail, as it was steep!
Take A Hike!
Pack your water, your sunscreen, and take a hike! This trail is best completed in late July to early August, especially if you want to hit wildflower season up the canyon. The beauty is pretty unparalleled this time of year, and you will be able to find some solitude in the Albion Meadows portion of the trail. The views at the top of Sugarloaf are quite impressive – it’s one you won’t want to miss!
See you on the next one!
Next blog: Wasatch of Uintas? I’ve got some from both. How about a frigid August day at 10,800 feet?