Sunday, July 26, 2015

2015 Red Pine Trail Hike - Alta Utah

My "hangout" for nearly an hour


Well, another weekend of hot weather in the valley led me wondering exactly what to do on this fine Sunday.  On deck was making yet another trip out to Wendover or heading up north and doing some exploring.  

I was totally ambivalent on what to do and couldn't find anyone to do anything with.  So instead of driving around, I headed back up to Alta and did the White Pine Trail's sister, Red Pine Trail.

Casual readers may recall I did the hike in 2013 with a friend of mine, which you can read here.  This trail is short but not easy.  It is almost all ascent.  I didn't measure it this time with my Garmin, but reading about in my prior post put it at 3.25 miles or so.  I managed to make the trek in about 90 minutes and that was hoofing it at a solid clip.

The Hike

With the temperatures pushing the upper 80's in the valley, this trail certainly didn't feel very hot.  Most of the trail is shaded and heavily wooded.  There were some wildflowers on the way up, but most of the trail is either heavy pine or cedar.

Also about a third of the way up you are treated to some really great views of the Sandy Valley.

There is a lot of scrambling as well as some muddy sections on the way up to Red Pine and I saw a number of people gasping for breath.  This is really a good glute and quad burner.

Finally I made it to the top and the lake was just as scenic as I remembered.  I wound up cruising around the side of it.

I had the studied the topography maps before I had left and I knew that there was another lake behind and above Red Pine.  I had never visited those and I was curious as to what they looked like.

I asked around and found a few people who had made their way back behind Red Pine.  Basically the trail climbs a massive rock hill.  The trail at this point is very hard to make out and it is hard to guess what the best way up is at times.  I managed to follow the trail and every time I thought I had lost it, I found it again and within about 15 minutes I made it to the top.

And discovered a tiny little puddle of a lake...  Seriously it was a puddle.

I sighed audibly and low and behold another guy was heading down from above me and I said "That's Upper Red Pine Lake?"  He said no and made me look in between a pair of trees shimmering in azure blue was another pair of larger lakes.  I managed to make my way over there, but again there was no discernible trail and also the lake didn't look too interesting.

I really don't like trail blazing and while I knew exactly how to get back to Lower Red Pine Lake, anytime I am 100% by myself in an area I don't feel comfortable in, makes me want to not explore much.  Just too easy to slip and fall up there and so I wound up making my way back down to Lower Red Pine.

I wound up sitting with my feet in the creek as I enjoyed the cool breeze, the sun and the view.  Just an absolutely perfect day.

Early Waterfall

Heading up -- view of where I had driven in from

Hello Red Pine Lake

View from above

In the bowl above Red Pine Lake

In the bowl above Red Pine Lake

Upper Red Pine Lakes

View of Sandy Valley

Saturday, July 25, 2015

2015 White Pine Trail Hike


After running 11 miles in the morning I had to make a decision: what to do next?

Initially I thought about going up north to Logan or Pineview Reservoir and hiking around, but I was looking at the clock and it was inching closer to noon.  Couple that with the fact that I was thinking about going to Wendover on Sunday, I figured I'd spare my car the miles and head back up to Alta and revisit White Pine Lake.

Readers may recall that I did the hike in 2013, and you can see the pictures and recap here.  Since 2013, I haven't been back up there (well I started to go for a hike there late spring of 2014 but the trail was still too snowy) and I've always wanted to get back up there.

The Hike

The first part of this trail is shared with the trail to Red Pine Lake, probably the more popular of the hikes.  White Pine has the same ascent, but it is spread out and the climb is less intense.  It also changes scenery frequently.

The first part of the hike is a gradual uphill and at about a mile in the trail splits, one going to White Pine and the other going to Red Pine.

You climb a bit more before it levels off and you get a respite from the hills.  It is also heavy pine and I always feel like there is going to be moose in the area.  The only wildlife I saw were a handful of deer and a snake or two.

Eventually after getting through the pines (which smelled heavenly) you begin some more ascent.  You also get to walk through some flowery meadows, which at this time of year smelled great.

The final mile or so is all rock and contrasts greatly from the initial part of the trail.  There is virtually no shrubbery or trees of any sort and you can see for a long ways.

After getting through the rock garden you descend into a grotto of pines and you are greeted with the beauty of White Pine Lake.  I had forgotten just how pretty this lake is.  It seems to almost magically drop off the end of the mountain, giving it an appearance of an infinity lake.

It took me about 2 hours and fifteen minutes to make it to the top and that was booking it - but not running.  I got the impression from others that it took 3 hours (or more) and I saw some people in pretty bad shape up there.  Looked like the distance and the altitude had gotten to them.

Overall a great hike.  Enjoy the photos: