5 Awesome Alpine Lake Hikes Near Salt Lake City

The hiking near Salt Lake City is incredible, and when temperatures rise to above 100°F in the Summer months, it’s nice to escape to the mountains. These are some of the most popular alpine lake hikes near Salt Lake City that are definitely worth the hike!

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Beautiful alpine lake hikes near Salt Lake City, Utah

Best Lake Hikes Near Salt Lake City, Utah

Before we dive into the list, there are a few things to note.

First, these alpine lakes feed into the Salt Lake City watershed, so swimming is not allowed in any of these lakes, and no dogs are allowed on these trails either.

Second, moose sightings are common on these hikes. Do not approach them.

Check out the map below to see where all the alpine lake hikes are relative to Salt Lake City:

Map provided by Wanderlog, a travel planner on iOS and Android

1. White Pine Lake

White Pine Lake in Little Cottonwood Canyon in Summer
  • Distance: 10 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,600 feet
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Trailhead: White Pine Trailhead
  • Canyon: Little Cottonwood Canyon

White Pine Lake is my favorite alpine lake in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Not only is it a beautiful hike, but it’s also the least crowded hike on this list.

While the hike isn’t too crowded, the White Pine Trailhead is the start of four different hikes, so there’s a lot going on at the trailhead.

At the trailhead, there’s a pit toilet and plenty of parking options on the side of the road if the parking lot is full.

Trail Info:

The trail is very wide and easy to follow, but a GPS is always recommended.

After about 1 mile, the trail splits. Make sure you follow signs for White Pine Lake. The trail to Red Pine Lake and Gloria Falls are also at this junction.

The views on this trail are spectacular. When you get down to the lake, you can walk to the other side and get a really great view of both the lake and the mountain you hiked up.

I actually did this hike as a 1-night backpacking trip. It was so much fun to spend the night there and enjoy the lake even more.

2. Red Pine Lake

Red Pine Lake in Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah
  • Distance: 6.5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet
  • Difficulty: moderate to difficult
  • Trailhead: White Pine Trailhead
  • Canyon: Little Cottonwood Canyon

I’ve done this hike a handful of times in all different seasons! It’s shorter than White Pine Lake mentioned above, but in my opinion, the trail is a little more difficult.

Trail Info:

The trail is easy to follow, but a GPS is always recommended.

After about 1 mile, the trail splits. Make sure you follow signs for Red Pine Lake. The trail to White Pine Lake and Gloria Falls are also at this junction.

Sometimes this lake can be badly drained in August and September, but it’s still a beautiful hike.

3. Lake Blanche

Sundial peak via the Lake Blanche hike near Salt Lake City
  • Distance: 7 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,700 feet
  • Difficulty: moderate to difficult
  • Trailhead: Mill B South Fork Trailhead
  • Canyon: Big Cottonwood Canyon

Lake Blanche is the first hike I did when I moved to Utah years ago, and it still remains one of my favorites.

Once you get to the top, you’ll see Lake Blanche, beautiful red rock, a view of the Wasatch Range, and Sundial Peak (pictured above).

There’s a lot to look at and explore up at the lake, so make sure to leave some time to relax at the top!

Trail Info:

The trailhead is about 4.4 miles up Big Cottonwood canyon. If you’re driving up the canyon, the trailhead will be on your right. There’s a small parking lot with pit toilets and overflow parking along the road.

This is an incredibly popular day hike, especially on the weekends. The trailhead is always packed.

The trail is easy to follow, but a GPS is always recommended. This is a pretty steep trail just about the entire way. After all, you’re hiking 2,700 feet in about 3.5 miles.

Towards the top, there’s a little bit of rock scrambling. I’ve seen moose on this hike multiple times! If you get lucky, you might even see one in the lake when you get to the top.

4. Willow Lake

A moose spotted in Willow Lake in Big Cottonwood Canyon
  • Distance: about 1.5 miles round trip to the lake
  • Elevation Gain: 570 feet
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
  • Trailhead: Willow Lake Trailhead
  • Canyon: Big Cottonwood Canyon

If you’re looking for a short alpine lake hike near Salt Lake City, then Willow Lake is for you!

There are a lot of Aspen trees on this hike making this an incredible trail if you want to see the changing leaves in the Fall. As you see in the photo above, I’ve also seen moose up there a couple of times!

Trail Info:

The parking for this trail is along the road. There is no parking lot and no pit toilets at this trailhead.

The trailhead can be hard to spot. Drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon for about 11.5 miles and the trailhead will be on your left, shortly after you pass Canyon Vacation Rentals, also on your left.

Once you start the hike, you’ll quickly come to a fork in the trail. Both trails will take you to the lake. I think going left is a slightly more direct and less steep option, but there are a couple of small stream crossings.

Going right is slightly steeper, but there are no stream crossings.

When the trail levels out and opens up, you’re close to the lake. The trail is easy to follow, but a GPS is always recommended.

It is about 0.7 miles from the road up to the lake. At that point, you can choose to turn around and hike back the way you came.

If you want to make the hike a little bit longer, you can continue to hike around the lake and then back down to the road making it a lollipop-shaped hiking route. This would add an additional 0.6 miles to the hike.

5. Lake Mary, Martha, and Catherine

Hiking to Lake Mary at Brighton
  • Distance (NOT roundtrip): 1 mile to Lake Mary, 1.5 miles to Lake Martha, 2 miles to Lake Catherine
  • Elevation Gain: 700 feet to Lake Mary, 900 feet to Lake Martha, 1,200 feet to Lake Catherine
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Trailhead: Brighton Lakes Trail
  • Canyon: Big Cottonwood Canyon

This is a nice hike because you can go as far as you want. See just one lake, or see all three!

Lake Mary and Lake Martha are both stocked with trout if you want to fish while you’re there.

Trail Info:

This trail starts at Brighton Ski Resort under the Majestic Lift line and there is plenty of parking.

The hike begins with a steady incline up the ski mountain. After about 0.8 miles, you’ll reach the junction for Dog Lake – a nice and quick detour if you want to add another lake to this hike!

After about 1.0 mile on the trail and a steady uphill, you’ll reach Lake Mary, the biggest of the three lakes on this hike.

If you want to continue, Lake Martha is next, and finally Lake Catherine. The views are awesome the entire way. If you want, you can hike the loop around Lake Catherine and back down the way you came.

There are lots of forks in the trail along the way, so make sure you’re prepared to navigate.

Amanda hiking to Red Pine Lake in Utah
Red Pine Lake hike in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Ready to Hit the Trails?

That’s the rundown of my favorite alpine lake hikes near Salt Lake City!

Although these hikes are easy to access and close to a major city, I’m always so surprised by how remote they feel.

Looking for even more awesome hikes near Salt Lake City? Then check out my guide to all the best Millcreek Canyon hiking next!

Related Hiking Blog Posts:

If you have any questions, just comment below!

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2 Comments

  1. Love this article. Already knew about all of them but hoping to tackle White Pine and Red Pine this summer!

    IG @thenimitpatel