Hiking to Devil’s Castle in Alta, Utah

The Beta

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!

Quick Beta

  • 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
The view from Devil’s Castle in Alta, Utah.

The hike

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.

The never-ending switchbacks to get to the pass. Make sure you turn around to look at Cecret Lake!

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.

Devil’s Castle as it appears from Sugarloaf Peak in Alta, Utah.
On top of Devil’s Castle!

Justin’s Suggestion

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.

And begins the treacherous downclimb…

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!

Parting shot:

A sun-lit Devil’s Castle as seen from Cecret Lake. It does look beautiful!

Next blog: Either another relaxing hike with a friend, or some peak-bagging in a different state. What’s it going to be??

12 thoughts on “Hiking to Devil’s Castle in Alta, Utah

  1. Those views!!! This hike looks 🔥 I’m itchin for a hard trail like this- ours are definitely kid + pup friendly hikes lately!
    I bet this time of year it’s gorgeous! And cecret lake is always so pretty bet it’s a great place to start!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just wanted to revisit this one Melanie – with all the snow we’ve gotten recently, this hike has become basically impossible. I just did Mt Wolverine, Tuscarora, and Patsy Marley in the snow, and it was manageable, but slow going. I know you’re looking for a harder hike, but all this snow is ending hiking season a little bit earlier!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I guess they don’t call it the Devil’s Castle for nothing. This does looks like a challenging hike with the steepness and all the loose rocks and dirt. But it looks like it was well worth the effort. Your pictures are gorgeous.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was pretty extreme! Probably the most extreme hike I had done to that date. Exposure was real, and all that loose rock and dirt was sketchy. Thank you! I do my best to accurately report conditions, and these photos are part of it for sure! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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