Want some serious exposure? You’ll get it with Devil’s Castle in Alta, Utah. This hike is no joke, and definitely not for the faint of heart! The hike length itself isn’t terrible long, clocking in at 3.5 miles if you start from the Cecret Lake trailhead. If you start from Albion Base, add about 1.6 miles total to eclipse about 5.1 miles. Since this route takes a similar route to Sugarloaf Peak, the exposure is pretty real – and only gets realer once you start the climb up the castle!
- Mileage: 3.5 from Cecret Lake trailhead, 5.1 from Albion Base
- Elevation gain: 1,482 ft. from Cecret Lk., 2,203 ft. from Albion Base
- Highest Point: 10,961 ft.
- Best time to visit: Late May through mid-October
- Total hiking time: 3-4 hours
- Number of Lakes: 1
- Kid friendly: No.
- Dog-friendly: No.
- Gear to bring: Solid hiking boots, hiking poles, extra layers, plenty of water, food, first aid kit, sunscreen
This hike is intense. Le me just put that out there. You begin with some gradual elevation change, walking through meadows and low angle slopes. Once you reach Cecret Lake, head to the west side of the lake to follow the trail, although it is definitely difficult to see. You’ll make you way towards a series of switchbacks that last about 0.5 miles, although it feels like much longer than just a half mile. Once you reach the pass, head left towards Devil’s Castle. You’ll maneuver around the backside, and meet some exposure. The drop off is pretty steep, but if you have good boots and poles, you should be fine on this dirt and rock slope.
Now, climbing the castle is where the exposure becomes insanely real. Anyone who has ever skied at Alta knows Devil’s Castle, as the monster looms over the ski resort. There is a section of hand-over-hand climbing that I would classify as class 4 climbing. The exposure here is a large, 500-ft cliff. Do not attempt this if there are any crosswinds, or if you feel uncomfortable. If you make it to the top, you can reward yourself with the satisfaction of completing this hard route, although the view is similar just 25 feet below.
Need to Know
This hike is hard. It is not for novices, kids, or anyone afraid of exposure and heights. This hike seriously has it all! Take many breaks once you attempt the climbing section, as a fall from this would certainly be fatal.
Pick a clear, weather-free day for this hike, including free of winds. Pack your water, snacks, and your camera so you can remember this epic hike. It’s a one-and-done hike for me, but I’m glad I did it! I’m usually of the school of “we’ll go until it doesn’t make sense anymore”. Take this hike as far as your comfortable with; many people who attempt this route bring ropes and belay each other.
Take A Hike!
Stay safe on this hike, and make sure to have fun! It is definitely a great hike, and is one of those “bragging rights” hikes. Just remember to always take precautions, and turn around when it doesn’t make sense anymore.
If you’re looking for another, less stressful hike in the Wasatch, attempt Sugarloaf Peak which neighbors Devil’s Castle! Or, check out the Patsy Marley, Mount Wolverine traverse. This is a rewarding hike, and one of my very favorites!
Have fun out there, and for the millionth time, STAY SAFE!
Next blog: Either another relaxing hike with a friend, or some peak-bagging in a different state. What’s it going to be??