5 Unforgettable Hikes
5 Unforgettable Hikes
Whether you’re local to Utah or visiting for some outdoor adventures, make sure you spend some time in the Rocky Mountains. Although the area is well-known for its fabulous skiing in the winter, there are plenty of amazing activities in the summer as well. For example, check out some of the hikes around Snowbird, where you’ll find abundant wildflowers, animal life and breathtaking views.
Best Hikes Near Snowbird in Little Cottonwood Canyon
Some of the best hikes in Little Cottonwood Canyon (and arguably Utah) are located either near or at Snowbird. From short and easy trails that are great for kids and beginners to longer and more difficult trails for advanced hikers, there is something for everyone in this area. Take a look below at some of our favorite hiking trails in Little Cottonwood Canyon to see which ones are right for you and your group.
NOTE: Keep in mind that dogs are not permitted on hiking trails in Little Cottonwood Canyon. You will also want to make sure you have plenty of water and sunscreen. Even on the more shaded trails, the heat in the summer can create an added challenge for hikers of all experience levels.
1. Observation Point Trail
The Observation Point Trail is great for all ages and skill levels. Formerly called the Barrier Free Trail, this hike begins behind the Snowbird Center, so look for parking close to this building if possible. Head inside and go up to the 3rd floor, where you’ll find an exit at the back of the building leading to a large open area with a bridge on the right-hand side.
This trail is free, paved, relatively flat and stroller-friendly, making it a great hike for little ones and families. You’ll walk for about a half a mile among beautiful flowers, and hopefully some wildlife, before reaching an observation deck. Hikers have spotted squirrels, deer and even an occasional moose, so keep your eyes peeled. The observation deck overlooks the ski resort and the canyon below so young children can enjoy the incredible mountain views without a steep climb.
2. American Fork Twin Peaks Trail
Although you can begin this hike at the base of Snowbird, the easiest route is to ride the Tram up the mountain. This will get you about a mile from the ridgeline part of the trail. If you choose to walk the entire way from the resort, it will most likely take you an additional 2 hours, but is free. If you choose to ride the Tram, you will shave off some time, but will need to purchase a Scenic Tram Ride . Keep in mind that the last ride down on the Tram from the mountain at the end of the day leaves at 7 pm, so plan your return trip accordingly.
Whether you decide to take the Tram up to the trail or start from the resort, be on the lookout for stunning wildflowers! Wavy Leaf Paintbrush is a common wildflower that thrives in high elevation and rocky landscapes. With its spreading, vibrant scarlet red petals, it stands out against the green landscape so you can’t miss it.
*As a reminder, masks are required to be worn when on the Tram , while in confined spaces such as the lodge and while walking around the Snowbird Center and Village to protect against COVID-19. However, hikers are not required to wear a mask while hiking or mountain biking on mountain trails.
In full disclosure, this hike can be very difficult and not suitable for beginner hikers. There are sliding rocks on one section and a knife-edge ridge that requires careful maneuvering. It is important that you wear shoes with plenty of traction to prevent slipping, and you may want to wear gloves to help with gripping the rocky ridgeline. Hikers have completed this trek in as little as 2-3 hours (when riding the Tram) and taken as long as 8 hours round trip (with plenty of stops to rest, snack and take pictures). It’s a long standing favorite for experienced hikers that appreciate the adrenaline rush.
This is one of the most spectacular hikes near Snowbird for those that are up for the challenge. There are three sections during the hike to the first summit:
- The white rocks (only about a foot wide in some sections)
- The black rocks
- The summit trail (steep with loose rock)
At the top, you’ll have a stunning view looking east toward Heber City. A short walk to the west (roughly 10 minutes) will take you to the second peak, where you can see Mount Superior and Monte Cristo in the distance, as well as Silver Lake Reservoir beneath you.
3. Cecret Lake & Sugarloaf Peak
This hike is above Alta Ski Resort, which is not too far from Snowbird and is still in Little Cottonwood Canyon. To find this trailhead, follow the Albion Basin road. Once it becomes a dirt road, continue for a few miles until you reach a dirt parking lot on the left-hand side of the road, just before the Albion Basin Campground. You’ll find the sign marking the trailhead just to the right of the campground, where you’ll cross a creek to get started.
This area is only open from the 4th of July to the end of September, depending on the weather. It can get cold and windy in the morning and evening, so make sure you bring a jacket with you.
This trail is great for hikers of varying skill levels. One section does have loose rock, so good shoes are a must, as well as supervision of children. However, overall it is a pretty mellow climb to Cecret Lake.
This trail is a well-known local favorite for its stunning array of colorful wildflowers that bloom each summer. From vibrant red Indian Paintbrush and wispy yellow Globeflowers, to delicate Mountain Bluebells and luscious purple Elephantheads, Albion Basin is home to a vast variety of mountain wildflowers. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a moose or two! Increase your chances of spotting wildlife by hiking in the early morning hours or at dusk.
You will need to climb up several switchbacks to reach the top of the rock formation where Cecret Lake sits atop. At the top, the view opens to a hidden mountain lake surrounded by evergreens, rock formations and more wildflowers. From there, you have the option to turn back or continue for 1 more mile to Sugarloaf Peak. If you decide to climb up Sugarloaf Peak, continue hiking the trail that’s to the right of Cecret Lake and it will loop to the base of the peak where you’ll begin the summit. At the top of the summit, you can look down at Cecret Lake from above and enjoy incredible views of Albion Basin.
4. Peruvian Gulch to Mount Baldy
Not only is Peruvian Gulch a popular skiing and snowboarding spot on the resort, it’s a popular hike around Snowbird during summer and fall. It’s always important to start out by remembering that it’s a highly trafficked trail for both hikers and mountain bikers, so be kind and share the trail!
Right above the parking garage for The Cliff Lodge at Snowbird is a paved pullout area with space for cars to park. From here, head to the Peruvian Gulch Hiking Trail so you can hike around the west side of the gulch. If you prefer, you can also use the Blackjack Trail, which is more of a service road, to head around the east side of the gulch. After a while, the two trails will merge, so if your goal is to make it to Mount Baldy, either will do.
This hike is just under 4 miles and fairly steep. When you reach the point where the trails merge, you can follow the service road or look for footpaths up the canyon while keeping an eye on the road or the ski lifts to stay on track. Climb the saddle section using a series of switchbacks until you reach the top of Hidden Peak. From here, follow the ridge to the east until you find the footpath that takes you along the north side of the ridge to the summit of Mount Baldy, the dividing line between Snowbird and Alta. Once you reach the peak, relax and take in the views from 11,068 feet high!
5. Red Pine Lake Trail
While this trail is roughly 7.5 miles round-trip and can be steep at parts, it’s a beautiful hiking trail in Little Cottonwood Canyon that the whole family can enjoy! To reach the trailhead, drive up the canyon road approximately 5 miles till you see a sign marked ‘White Pine Trailhead’ which should be located on the south side of the road. It seems confusing that the Red Pine Lake trail starts at the White Pine trailhead, but the two will connect and it’s well-marked.
A good thing to note is that this trail is typically open between April and November. Snow tends to cover the trail after that and into early spring transforming this stunning summer hike into a winter snowshoe destination.
After the 1st mile, which is usually pretty crowded, but great for families, you’ll reach some mini waterfalls. This is a fun sight to see in Utah’s mountains where waterfalls are not typically visible from canyon roads. Keep in mind that some parts of the trail are rocky or muddy (depending on the weather), so sturdy hiking boots can make your experience much more pleasant.
At the end of the trail awaits a beautiful alpine lake, but you can continue walking farther towards Upper Red Pine Lake to reach another secluded mountain lake that sits at a higher elevation! Upper Red Pine Lake is typically less trafficked because most people will turn back around once they reach the first level.
While swimming in any lake in Little Cottonwood Canyon is prohibited (it’s a watershed area), camping is permitted. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of moose, deer or other forest critters walking around.
Snowbird Wildflower Tours
For the best nature experience while embarking on one of our 5 favorite hiking trails in Little Cottonwood Canyon, make sure to check out the Wasatch Wildflower Festival at Snowbird. This fun and educational event occurs each year, and supports an excellent organization that maintains the health and vibrancy of the Wasatch front!
Snowbird also provides Guided Hiking Tours during the summer for those who are new to Utah’s Wasatch mountains, or are looking to learn about new trails from experienced tour guides (Guided Hiking Tours will be cancelled for summer 2020 due to physical distancing guidelines). You can find more information on hiking trails by visiting the Summer Trail Status Report , viewing the Summer Trail Map online or picking one up at the Snowbird Center or visiting the Snowbird Hiking page . As always, remember to be respectful of road closures and posted signs as well as the flora and fauna while enjoying the wildflowers and hikes around Snowbird, Utah.