One of my favorite hikes is driving up to the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, parking at the Brighton Ski resort and taking the trail to the top of Sunset Peak. I have done this hike once before and it is an easy to navigate hike that affords some pretty spectacular views along with the chance to see 3 lakes (four if you make the stop to Dog Lake).
|Yours truly at the top of Sunset Peak
I left the house just after 10AM and made my way to the top of the canyon. The temperature was in the low 70's in the valley so up there it was in the low 60's. Just an absolutely beautiful day: a touch of a breeze and plenty of sunshine. There was quite a bit of fall color in the trees, but it hasn't hit full stride yet.
I set up my Garmin and took off. It is about 3 miles to Sunset Peak and I made it there in about 75 minutes. I wasn't doing a power hike or anything, but I was moving pretty quickly. The trail starts at about 8800 feet and climbs to 10600.
There were quite a few people on the trail. Due to the marathon being there the previous day I did encounter a few runners who were out enjoying the scenery as well. There was also about half a dozen people at the top; last time I was there, I sat solo on the summit (You can see photos of all the lakes in more detail in September 2013).
This trail is heavily used, primarily by tourists and visitors to Salt Lake so the chance of wildlife sighting isn't likely. The trail is also highly runnable and if I was 100% I'd like to take a shot at running it.
After enjoying the peak, I took a detour and got on another peak which afforded some nice views of Alta. The trail wasn't too terribly interesting going that way so after about a mile I turned around and headed back.
All in all, this is probably one of my more favorite hikes. There are plenty of people on the trail so it is easy to strike up conversations with people (people are always so friendly on hikes) and you do get some nice views from the top of Big Cottonwood.
|Lake #1: Poor Lake Mary mostly drained at this time of year
|Another shot of Lake Mary. Normally you have to swim to that island
|Lake #2: Lake Martha
|Aerial shot of Lake Martha
|Lake Catherine below, plus the other two lakes + Brighton
|Me at Sunset Peak
|Views from Sunset Peak
|Views from Sunset Peak
|Last of the wildflowers
|Route plus elevation profile