One of the best loops in all of the Wasatch, this trail is 6.86 miles roundtrip featuring 2,112 feet of elevation change and is rated as hard. This trail ascends and descends through the mountains dividing Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon. It’s excellent for stellar mountain views, five lakes, wildlife, and photos of all sorts! Since this hike takes place in-bounds of the Salt Lake watershed, dogs are never allowed on this trail. This hike is best done from late May until early October, with spring and fall being the ideal time to hike this route.
- Mileage: 6.86 miles
- Elevation gain: 2,112 ft.
- Highest Point: 10,819 ft.
- Best time to visit: Late May through mid-October
- Total hiking time: 4 hours, 14 minutes
- Total elapsed time: 4 hours, 39 minutes
- Number of Lakes: 5
- Kid friendly: Yes, if your kid is a stud. Otherwise, this is long and can get steep!
- Dog-friendly: No.
- Gear to bring: Solid hiking boots, water, snacks, spare long-sleeve top layer (weather dependent), hiking poles, sunscreen, bug spray (season dependent), rain coat (weather dependent), camera/phone
- Gear I brought: all of the above, plus a winter coat, winter hat, gloves, pants, one thin sweatshirt and one thick quarter-zip. You’ll see why below!
The hike starts out at the base of Brighton. Traverse up 0.75 miles to a turnoff to head to Lake Mary. After another quarter mile, you’ll reach Lake Mary! Continue past Lake Mary towards Lakes Martha, and swing around for a beautiful view of Brighton Resort, overlooking Dog Lake. After about 2.2 miles of total hiking time, you’ll reach Lake Catherine, and an overlook of Martha and Mary! Continue on the trail 0.4 miles to Catherine Pass, and turn right towards Mount Tuscarora.
From here, you’ll be greeted with spectacular views of the mountains in both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon. Looking west, you’ll see Little Cottonwood Canyon, along with many namesake peaks, including Sugarloaf Peak. Looking south, you’ll see Sunset Peak, one of my favorite peaks in the Wasatch. Continue on 0.3 miles from Tuscarora to Mount Wolverine, your highest point this trip, and another 0.4 miles from Wolverine to Patsy Marley.
From Patsy Marley, you’ll begin your descent towards Twin Lakes, and walk along the ridgeline trail that separates Solitude Resort from Brighton Resort. Once you hit Twin Lakes, you have another 1.6 miles to reach Silver Lake, and then walk along the road back to your car. Alternatively, you can take a service road, which dumps you at the base of Millicent lift at Brighton; this alternate route is approximately 1.1 miles one-way.
Need to Know
This hike is pretty grueling, and traverses from steep, exposed terrain. Make sure you wear appropriate footwear; I would recommend boots that cover your ankle! Also remember that this trail is steep, and you may want hiking poles. I never would have used them in a million years, but they are way more helpful then I could have imagined!
Remember to watch the weather when there are clouds in Utah. It may rain, it may dry-thunderstorm, and it could snow! Pack extra layers accordingly, and prepare to be warm and cold in the same hike.
This was a pretty fun story. We had received some snow the night prior, and Alta, Snowbird and Brighton all recorded about an inch of snow! Mind you, this happened in early August, mid-summer in Utah. I couldn’t wait to get out and hike up to these peaks, so I packed accordingly. I’m glad I did because the summit was 37 degrees Fahrenheit! I used everything in my backpack except my raincoat – a successful pack, if you ask me!
If you’re not doing this hike in colder weather, but rather in summer, try to start this hike earlier in the day, midweek if possible. I was practically alone on this trail, since the temperatures were so low. With that being said, it was very beautiful, and I imagine hiking this in early October would yield moderate temperatures and some spectacular fall colors in the Wasatch.
Take A Hike!
Have a great time on this hike! Unlike some of the other hikes in the Wasatch, there are no boulder fields you need to cross, and you’re greeted with some spectacular ridgeline walks and climbs. Make sure you give yourself some extra time!
For more in the Wasatch, check out my favorite peak, Sunset Peak, or, for a shorter lakes trail, Cecret Lake. You can also check out all of my blogs near Salt Lake City by heading over to my Wasatch National Forest page.
See you on the next one!
Next blog: Got another in the Wasatch Range. There’s also more in the Uintas. Nevada, and even Maine.